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cork flooring – questions to consider

Room with Cork

Looking for eco–friendly cork floors but don't know where to begin? Want to know why some cork flooring is considered greener than others? We can't be with you when you are shopping, but we can prepare you for your cork buying experience. This section contains helpful flooring questions and answers for you to use while shopping for cork floors. If you have a question and don't see it answered here, use our Live Chat feature at the top of the page to get in touch with FindAnyFloor's™ cork flooring professionals.

Featured Cork Products

Cork Questions to Ask Your Local Floor Store

What binders were used to manufacture this cork flooring?

In the manufacturing process, ground cork is combined with chemical binders, which may include urea melamine, phenol formaldehyde, and natural proteins. Check out the VOC* levels in the binders used to manufacture any product you're considering.

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

Does this cork flooring include any recycled content?

Many manufacturers use cork waste left over from the production of bottle–stopper corks to make new cork flooring. Although the percentage of recycled cork varies from product to product, some contain as much as 100% recycled cork. This means less cork being taken from the source (the cork oak tree) and less going into the waste stream.

What kind of finish does it have?

Cork flooring is available either finished or unfinished. If you choose a finished product, make sure it is a low–VOC, water–based product.

If you choose an unfinished product, ask about the manufacturer's recommendations. Look for flooring that's compatible with a low VOC, water–based polyurethane or a natural wax product. These will help minimize the pollution of your indoor air.

Would tile or planks be a better choice for my situation?

For rooms that are below ground level (also called "below grade") or include radiant heat systems, manufacturers often recommend planks installed in a "floating floor." This technique involves fitting planks together without nails or glue. In essence, the planks "float" on top of a moisture barrier that covers the subfloor. Some have beveled edges that allow the flooring to expand and contract along with temperature and humidity conditions.

Cork tile is often recommended for bathrooms. It can be used over dry, level subfloors in other rooms, as well. It is usually not recommended for basement floors.

Does the thickness of the cork matter?

If sound insulation is a consideration, thicker products are better choices. Cork is an effective sound barrier, especially if the product is 6 mm or thicker. In general, planks are thicker than tile. For more general information on cork flooring, go to the cork section of™.

How is this flooring installed?

Cork products are available for installation with and without glue, as tongue–and–groove or click–lock flooring. Be sure you understand the suggested installation methods for any product you're considering. If you plan to install it yourself, make sure you have the necessary skills and tools. A good first stop is our Live Chat feature at the top of the page. Click it and chat in real time with one of our flooring experts.

Do I need to take special precautions to protect this product?

Cork tends to yellow and may fade in direct sunlight. Some manufacturers recommend installing shades or UV protection on windows in rooms with cork flooring. They also recommend moving furniture and rugs periodically to even out any changes in coloring.

Cork flooring is not as scratch resistant as some other types of flooring. Manufacturers recommend keeping pets' nails clipped carefully and using mats or rugs at all entrances.

How would I maintain this flooring?

Manufacturers suggest using a gentle, neutral PH cleaner and very little water. Avoid abrasive cleaners and solvents, especially any that contain glycerin. Plan to polish cork floors at least once a year. For more information, please visit our Cork Floors Care & Cleaning page at™.