Are you looking to winter-proof your home this fall? Cork flooring might be an excellent option, especially if you want to insulate a ground floor or an area above an unheated garage. However, before you commit to buying and installing cork flooring, there are some things you should consider. Here is our list of the benefits of cork flooring and a few things you should know before you buy.
1. Thermal Insulation
On a cellular level, cork is naturally an excellent insulator. This is because the individual cell structure of cork is a many-sided cell with air inside it. This air pocket provides a buffer between an extreme temperature on one side of the cork and the other, making it perfect for insulating above an unheated garage or crawl space. Cork will help keep your toes warm even on the coldest mornings! As a bonus, you may even notice a lower heating/cooling bill, as it will reduce your heat transfer through the floor!
2. Sound Insulation
Again at a cellular level, cork is designed to help reduce sound transfer. Unlike most building materials that reflect sound, cork deadens it, reducing echoing, the sound of footfalls, and more. The air pockets we mentioned before are a key part of this process. The air pockets spread the sound waves out before dulling them. This is especially helpful in multi-family buildings or older buildings with less built-in insulation.
3. Supports Your Joints
Cork is naturally more comfortable to stand on than hardwood flooring and ceramic tile. The reason once again circles back to those air pockets. The air pockets allow the cork to flex and compress under your feet, supporting your weight more evenly than a more rigid surface. Corks support is why many people choose to install cork flooring in kitchens or other spaces where they anticipate lots of standing.
4. Easy to Clean
All our floors are available with a varnished finish. Optionally, you can put on a couple of additional coats once installed. These coats will prevent any liquid spills from seeping between the tiles and provide a bit of extra protection to the cork flooring underneath. The varnish also makes it easy to clean! Routine cleanings can be done with a bit of water and a mop to remove dirt and any sticky spots that inevitably develop in kitchens. Deeper cleanings can be done with a gentle cleaner like Simple Green.
5. Long Lasting with Proper Care
If you notice that your cork flooring is losing its shine from when it was first installed, the floor can be spruced up via a buff and finish. The buff is a more gentle alternative to sanding the floor (which can damage your flooring) and instead roughs up the existing varnish. Once the existing varnish is buffed, simply recoat with another couple of coats of water-based polyurethane. Once dry, your floor will look like it was installed yesterday!
6. Benefits of Carpet without the Side Effects
If you are looking for the warmth and comfort of carpet without the off-gassing, trapped allergens, and easy staining of carpet, cork could be the solution! Like carpet, cork is warm, soft, and quiet when you walk on it, but it doesn't have any of the yucky side effects. For example, did you know pet dander can remain in the carpet at high levels for up to six months after the pet moves out?!?
7. Environmentally Friendly
You can reduce your home's carbon footprint by using cork in your home. Unlike most materials, cork is an entirely renewable resource. The bark is harvested from a mature tree and regrows to be harvested again in the future. The tree continues to remove CO2 from the air and will actually remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than will be produced by the manufacturing and shipping of its harvest.
8. Multiple Options to Fit Your Project
Cork flooring comes in a wide variety of patterns and colors to fit your home. Our most popular patterns are available in both glue-down and floating floor tiles so that you can choose the best installation method for your home and lifestyle.
Things to Know
1. Not Ideal for Movable Heavy Furniture
Cork is a softer wood than oak or pine. This means it can dent over time when sharp, heavy furniture is placed on it and then moved. Placing rigid furniture pads under those types of furniture will prevent these indentations. If you are looking for flooring with the benefits of cork for your workout room, where there is often heavy equipment, we recommend checking out cork and rubber flooring.
2. Can Scratch
When moving, rearranging furniture, or installing something on your cork floor, you should be aware that it can scratch more easily than some other flooring. Therefore, we recommend laying down cardboard or another floor protector when putting furniture together on your cork flooring and always using furniture sliders when you move something heavy to prevent any scratches on your flooring. Shallow scratches can usually be fixed by a buff and refinish; however, if a scratch is deep enough to reach the cork, you won't be able to fix it quickly.
Cork can be more expensive than carpets, linoleum, and some tile options. However, as discussed above, cork has definite benefits that other flooring options don't have. Depending on your location and if people are familiar with cork, it might even add a bit to your home's value. Use code “CORKFLOORBLOG” at checkout for 7% off!
4. Turns a Lighter Shade in Sunlight
Cork is a natural flooring, and like all natural flooring, UV from the sun can cause a change in color. Cork will lighten in the sun, whereas hardwood will generally become darker when exposed to UV light. This is most noticeable if an area rug or a larger piece of furniture covers a section of the floor for an extended period of time. When the rug is moved, the section under the rug will be a darker shade than the rest of the floor.
Depending on where you live, you might not be able to see and feel cork flooring installed in person before you order. This can make a big purchase even more daunting. If you can visit us at one of our locations, you can feel the flooring for yourself, but if you can't, we recommend ordering a few individual tiles. By ordering 2 or 3 floating flooring tiles or 6 or 8 glue-down tiles, you can stand on them and get a sense of what your floor would feel like with cork installed.