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cork flooring

Did you know?
  • Cork forests are efficient storehouses for greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Slightly less than one third of the world's cork forests are found in Portugal.
  • A harvested cork oak tree can absorb 3 to 5 times more carbon than an unharvested tree.
  • Cork oak trees live to be 150 to 200 years old. A typical tree can be harvested between 13 and 19 times during its lifecycle.
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When it comes to green flooring, cork floors are one of the most eco-friendly.

It is:

  • made from organic, harvested materials
  • pest resistant because it naturally contains a substance called Suberin that repels insects, including termites
  • fire resistant
  • great at absorbing sound
  • relatively hypoallergenic

One of cork's chief claims to (green) fame is that it's harvested without harming the tree. The cork oak tree, or Quercus Suber, grows throughout the Mediterranean Basin. By law, each tree has to be 25 years old and more than 23.6 inches (60 cm) in diameter before its initial harvest. When the cork is ready –about every 9 years afterward – the bark is stripped off, and the cycle begins again.

Room with Cork Flooring

After the cork is stripped, it's cut into planks and left in the forest for about 6 months. During this time, exposure to sun, wind, and rain create chemical changes that improve the quality of the cork. Eventually, the cork is ground, mixed with resin, processed, baked and compressed. The result: cork flooring.

Some manufacturers use waste from the production of wine corks in their cork flooring products. That makes the flooring twice as nice – harvested without hurting the tree and recycled.

Like any other flooring product, the benefits aren't the whole story. Here are some drawbacks to consider:

Image of
Stained Cork Flooring Tiles

  • The color of cork tends to fade and the surface can yellow. Many manufacturers recommend that you move furniture and rugs periodically so the color changes evenly.
  • The surface has to be sealed periodically. Some manufacturers advise applying sealer as often as every 9 months, but most recommend once a year.
  • Heavy objects can permanently compress cork. (This can be solved by placing wide coasters beneath the legs of heavy furniture.)
  • Manufacturer's warranties range from 10 to 15 years, which is not as long as some other flooring products.

Before you get too discouraged about its durability, you should know that cork flooring has survived in the First Congregational Church in Chicago since 1898 and in Fallingwater (a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) since 1937.

There are many benefits of cork flooring. If cork floors sounds good to you, let™ help you learn more. Get more information on cork flooring in our cork section at™.

Alternatives to Cork Flooring – Other Green Flooring Options

Cork is an excellent resilient flooring for a moderate– to high–traffic area. Other green options for such areas include:

Image of Recycled Rubber, Natural Linoleum and Hardwood

  • Recycled rubber. With up to 87% recycled tire rubber, this flooring is durable and comfortable to walk on. It contains low VOCs* and can be recycled at the end of its useful life.
  • Natural linoleum. Made from natural materials, linoleum is extremely durable, easy to maintain, and naturally resistant to bacteria.
  • Sustainably harvested hardwood. If your interest in cork is based on its warm, natural appearance, check out sustainable hardwood, too. Yes, hardwood flooring can be green. Some hardwood flooring products are manufactured from salvaged wood. Others are made from trees being harvested at the same rate that nature replenishes them.

*VOCs (short for volatile organic compounds) are carbon-based chemical compounds that can be found in certain flooring materials, adhesives and cleaners.

Cork Flooring Information | Help
  • Questions – Find out what you should ask at your local flooring store.
  • Lifecycle – How to keep your cork floor lasting as long as possible.
  • Buying Guide – Prepare for your cork flooring purchase with our useful guide.
  • Flooring Estimator Tools – Use our estimator tools to determine how much cork flooring you need.
  • FAQs – Find answers to frequently asked questions about cork flooring.
  • Glossary – Look up common terms you'll come across when researching cork floors.