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Environmentally friendly cork flooring

This cork floor in installed at the UTC library where it stands up to lots of use and wear.
This cork floor in installed at the UTC library where it stands up to lots of use and wear.Image by UTC Library

People who have cork floors love them. Cork is a renewable resource. The cork bark is peeled from the cork tree, and the tree grows replacement bark.

The folks at This Old House say that cork tiles are easy to install if you do a careful job of measuring and cutting. They estimate it would take 3 hours to cover a 10 x 15 foot floor space. This Old House says, "Resilient yet durable, stylish yet earthy, a natural cork floor can turn any cool room into a cozy haven."

Cork is non-toxic and fairly easy to care for. Most cork tiles come with a polyurethane or wax finish that should be reapplied on a regular basis. Cleanup is simple if you follow the manufacturer's instructions. Some specify a wood cleaner, some say ammonia and water, and some say just a damp mop. Cork should not be soaked since the cork may expand and then become damaged.

Some cork floors "float" rather than rely on an adhesive. No glue means no fumes. There is an ongoing "discussion" in the trade on which method is best. There are situations when glue is a better option.

Globus Cork, a manufacturer known for colored cork, says, "Bugs, mold, mites and even termites are repelled by cork due to a naturally occurring substance in cork called suberin. This waxy substance also prevents cork from rotting even when completely submerged under water for long periods of time."

A point to note, all the fancy cut designs that you can accomplish with vinyl and linoleum are also possible with cork. You can create the look of parquet flooring and enjoy the comfort of walking on cork.

The Sexy Kitchen offers some pros and cons for using cork in a kitchen.

  • Cork is resilient and will usually bounce back to its original plane if something is dropped on it.
  • Cork keeps floors warm and absorbs sound.
  • Cork contains suberin which retards fire from spreading.
  • The use of padding under furniture and appliances will limit the footprint that develops over time.
  • Sunlight and age will fade and/or change the color of the cork.
  • Cork floors will show damage and wear if they are not swept frequently or become water logged.

Don VanderVort of Home Tips says, " The installed cost of a cork floor typically runs from $5 to $10 per square foot. By doing the work yourself, you can save up to about $2.50 per square foot." That makes it very cost effective.

Cork flooring and professional installation are available from most major flooring stores in Michigan. You will want to compare prices, warranties, and recommendations. Some flooring stores have "outside companies" who do the actual installation, so be sure to ask and factor that in before you make any decisions.

Cork flooring is a green option that costs less than wood flooring, adds comfort and warmth to the room, and looks great. How nice to be environmentally friendly and stay on a budget.

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