Mention cork and most people think about bulletin boards and wine bottle stoppers instead of flooring. Yet cork floors were popular from the early to mid 20th century and are now returning in popularity. Cork floors are attractive, durable, eco-friendly, appealingly retro, and dense (unlike bulletin boards). The experts at Floor Coverings International Metairie share eight reasons why today’s homeowners are showing increased interest in this eco-friendly choice.
Cork is durable. One reason is due to its impermeability, which prevents decay. This is because cork contains a substance called suberin, which keeps liquids and gasses from penetrating the material.
“Pieces of cork exist that have been submerged for centuries without rotting,” the FAO says.
Cork oaks aren’t cut down to make products. Instead, workers harvest portions of their thick bark layer (the cork), which protects the tree’s wood about once every 9 to 11 years. The trees may live more than 200 years. Cork flooring is recyclable, which is another point in its favor for green consumers.
Quieter Foot Traffic
Even tiny bits of cork contain tens of millions of cells, each of which acts like a shock absorber deadening sound by creating softer footfalls. This is true even after cork waste is restructured into flooring through a process of heat and pressure.
This ability to quiet a room is one reason why so many libraries once installed cork floors. A good example is the U.S. Department of Interior Library in Washington, D.C., which was built in 1936 and retains its original checkerboard cork floors.
Springy and Elastic
Cork is springier underfoot than other kinds of flooring due to its flexible, honeycomb structure.
The elasticity of cork allows it to bounce back after pressure is applied. Once popped, a wine bottle cork quickly returns to its original shape, because the gas in its cells decompresses and returns to a normal volume.
The waxy suberin in cork is unappealing to insects, including termites that normally love tree products.
Better for Allergies
Cork doesn’t absorb dust or pollen, so it poses fewer problems for people who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems. It also resists bacteria, mold, and mildew.
Suberin helps cork resist fire. Due to low combustibility, it isn’t the kind of tree product you would burn in a fireplace.
Natural variations in texture and tone give cork a natural appeal. However, due to advances in the manufacturing of cork flooring, you don’t have to limit your choices to browns. An array of dyed corks is available including greens as well as dramatic reds and blacks.
Cork is bouncing back in style! Give the experts at Floor Coverings International Metairie a call today to schedule your free in-home consultation and talk about cork flooring in more detail. We proudly serve the greater Metairie and New Orleans area.
Photo Credit: Jo Ann Snover