Cork Flooring Products
Cork Flooring Product TIPS
- Flooring products respond to trends
- Cork comes from the Mediterranean Sea countries
- Dream DIY material - it's very easy to work with
- Density is everything - best cork flooring is denser and heavier
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Cork Is Magical
Cork flooring is simply spectacular. It is distinctive, yet affordable.
Cork has been serving as an exemplary flooring material for well over 100 years. It was environmentally friendly long before the current eco-movement leaders were in their diapers.
There are many positive attributes about this flooring material and few negatives. I feel that it offers a homeowner a most unusual choice when considering flooring.
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Trends Ebb & Flow
The popularity of cork flooring peaked in the late 1950's and early 1960's. As with colors (who can remember avocado and harvest gold appliances?), cork simply lost favor with designers and architects.
It's most unfortunate as this flooring material is timeless. Perhaps the abundance of natural wood products within our own geographic borders contributed.
I've installed cork in my own home and have put it down for customers. Everyone has loved it. I really like how quiet it is.
It does a great job of absorbing sound in a family game or recreation room.
Cork is only commercially grown in the Mediterranean countries. Quite possibly the best quality cork is harvested from cork trees in Portugal. Spain, France and some North African countries also grow and export cork. Cork trees simply have adapted to the balmy climate in this part of the world.
It appears to me that cork flooring is making a comeback. I consider it to be one of the most beautiful and durable flooring materials to have in a home.
It's easy on your feet and ears. It can be refinished just like a wood floor.
DIY Dream Material
Better yet, it is a DIYer's dream material. It's quite possibly the easiest flooring material to install that I have ever worked with.
If you install the traditional 12-inch by 12-inch tiles, all you need is a simple razor knife for cutting and a trowel to spread mastic. It doesn't get much easier than that.
Selecting a Cork Floor
Cork flooring is available unfinished or pre-finished. The pre-finished cork comes with either an acrylic, urethane or wax finish.
The acrylic finish is actually an ultraviolet light cured process. It's very similar to the process that creates product labels that have that very high gloss finish you see.
This finish can be installed quickly by automated machinery. It's only downfall is that it is a somewhat soft finish similar to wax. Scratches can be a problem if you tend not to vacuum regularly.
Urethane coated cork flooring probably offers the best finish. The urethane is no different than the material you might put on your hardwood floor. It is applied in controlled factory conditions.
Urethanes and acrylic finishes allow you to simply screen the cork flooring as the finish wears. The screening process is just an ultra-light sanding. You then apply a maintenance coat of urethane to make the floors shine like glass.
Wax Finishes More Work
Wax finishes are just that - wax. Wax is tough to maintain. You need to have a low speed (and sometimes a high speed) buffer on hand to polish and burnish the floor.
I can't even imagine going to this kind of trouble in this day and age! It is beyond me as to why wax finished cork is even available! I do not recommend that you even consider it for household use. When I buy my cork flooring, I'm getting the pre-finished urethane brand!
Density is Important
It shouldn't surprise you that all cork is not the same. Different trees produce cork of different densities.
The lighter (less dense) the cork, the more easily it is damaged and the less wear and tear it can withstand. Density is measured in a given weight per cubic foot of material. Manufacturers will tell you what the density of their product is.
The denser products will always cost more. Use price as a barometer when trying to figure out the best cork to buy for your floor.