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Cork Flooring – Warm, Resilient & Easy On The Planet.

 

by Chris Moline, LEED AP


Are you looking for a warm, comfortable, eco-friendly floor? I’ve had cork flooring in my sun room and kitchen for almost two years now. What’s the verdict?


Well, my wife and I, along with our children ages 9, 10 and 13… and our 75-lb German shepherd… absolutely love it. In fact, we recently installed it in her home-based physical therapy office as well.
We’re active (to say the least) and there is so much about this type of flooring that goes with our lifestyle. In fact, cork has been used for flooring since the mid-1800’s. Stop by some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes and you’ll see cork everywhere from the kitchen to the bathrooms.
Cork is well-suited to commercial applications, too. Chicago’s First Congregational Church, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and Lafayette College in Easton, PA, are just a few of the places you’ll find it.

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Here are some great reasons to look into cork for your flooring choice:

It’s warm
– Our 300 s.f. sunroom is built over a crawl space. It’s also got a 12-foot cathedral ceiling and I didn’t want to run ductwork for heat. So I installed R-45 insulation, radiant subfloor heat and the cork.  We do not have a problem staying warm, even though the three sides of the sunroom are all glass (triple-pane, Low-E).
Here is a picture of our sunroom:

It’s quiet
– Cork is the most efficient insulating material. Humans have tried, and failed, to make something better. But cork’s bajillion-cell-per-cubic-inch structure (ok, so I’m not a numbers guy) insulates wonderfully well against the sound of 3 kids and a dog when the adults are trying to relax.

It’s great camoflauge!
– Ever notice how hotels and restaurants always have patterned carpet and other types of flooring? It’s really quite simple to explain. Every floor will get dirty, but if you can’t see it, the time-lag to cleaning doesn’t bother you as much. Cork definitely offers that hands-down.
The natural appearance of cork is very, well, varied. Heaven forbid that I drop something small on the floor… it’ll be hard to find! And that, my friend, is just what I need given our hectic lifestyle.
But even though it’s great for hiding spills and other household ills, it also cleans up very easily. Personally, I use Windex for spot-cleaning, and Alba, our cleaning person, for weekly cleaning. Alba, however, uses Mr. Clean for hardwood floors. Cork, after all, is made from the the bark of the Cork Oak tree.

Cork is very green
– Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. It is a renewable and sustainable resource with a very small carbon footprint. In cork oak plantations the first cork bark is not harvested from a tree until it is 25-30 years old.  The process of stripping off the bark in sections is traditionally done by hand, the way it’s been done for hundreds of years. The tree is not damaged and the bark regrows completely. The bark is harvested every nine years and a cork oak can live for 150-200 years, so it can be safely harvested up to 20 times during its life cycle.
According to Natural Cork, “Cork’s structure is very similar to that of a honeycomb: each square centimetre is composed of 40 million cells (a more accurate figure than a bajillion). These cells, as well as the spaces between them, are filled with a gaseous mixture similar to air. That is what makes cork so remarkable. The unique structure of cork creates the three most important characteristics in its application as flooring: Thermal Insulation, Sound Reduction and Elasticity.”
That’s why you can place a grand piano on your cork floor and it will bounce back when you move it.  Also, if you do happen to gouge it, repairs are much more easy to conceal since the finish is so varied in color and texture.

We’ve just installed a hundred square feet of cork in our showroom in Alexandria, Virginia. Come on by and give it a walk. Go ahead, take your shoes off!

Chris

cork flooring northern virginia, greenfloors.com, greenfloors, green flooring, eco friendly floors

Chris is our Residential Group Manager & a US Green Building Council LEED Accredited Professional

Christopher Moline, LEED AP
Residential Group Manager
Commercial Carpets of America
703-370-0000
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