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Pros and Cons of Cork Flooring

by Crystal Hosking – Hosking Hardwood Flooring Inc. © 2015, Copyright protected. All Rights Reserved

Although it may seem a strange option for flooring, cork is gaining ground as a hugely popular option for flooring in residences and commercial settings across the country. There are quite a few advantages of using cork flooring instead of carpet, tile, laminate or hardwood.

Cork Flooring Offers More Cushion

When walking across cork flooring, it is much softer underfoot than other hard surface floors like tile or hardwood. One notices the spring and cushion-like feel immediately when stepping on a cork floor and this lends to the benefits of cork flooring being installed in rooms where people might be standing more often and for longer periods of time. This includes kitchens, showrooms, hotel lobbies, hospitals, etc. Because cork flooring has more spring to it, it also offers more cushioning against falls. This makes it great for homes with small children, elderly or disabled persons. Cork flooring has more shock absorption properties, lessening the impact of a fall and therefore lessening damage to fragile bones. Additionally, aiding the prevention of slip and falls, cork is also skid resistant, even when wet.

Cork Flooring Offers More Natural Acoustic and Thermal Insulation

For years, cork sheets have been used for soundproofing rooms and insulation the walls of homes. Cork flooring tiles and planks will offer those same insulating properties. Cork flooring helps to prevent sound transfer to and from rooms below while also helping to cut energy costs by hold in heat in the winter.

Cork Flooring Can be Refinished and Renewed

Just like hardwood flooring, you will notice wear and tear on your cork flooring over time. It is a natural product and can be scratched or damaged if subjected to abuse on a regular basis. Cork flooring is similar to hardwood flooring in that it can be sanded and refinished (with a finish sealer) in order to clean up and restore the original appearance of the floor. Usually all that is needed is a screen and recoat. Whether a particular cork floor can be refinished depends on the total overall thickness of the floor. Although it can be damaged with use, the resiliency of cork flooring is amazing. Cork has the unique ability to "bounce back" and surface dents from heavy object typically resolve themselves over time.

Cork Flooring is Naturally Hypoallergenic and Antimicrobial

With all the allergens floating around these days, it's refreshing to find a floor covering type which not only steers clear of contributing to the problem, but which also lends a hand to repel collecting allergens within the home. Cork is naturally hypoallergenic and its antimicrobial properties mean you'll be spending less time worrying about what may be hiding in the crevices of your family's floor. Cork flooring adds to the overall cleanliness of your home by creating much better air quality than you would get with a covering like carpet. Additionally, it's much easier to clean!

Cork Flooring is More Environmentally Friendly

Ecologically speaking, cork is one of the best products you can use in your home. The raw material for cork flooring comes from the bark of cork trees, which are able to regrow their bark after it has been harvested. This is much more environmentally efficient than taking the entire tree down, as is the case with the acquirement of raw material for real hardwood flooring. You can read more about how cork flooring is Earth-Friendly here: Why We-Cork is an Environmentally Friendly Flooring Choice.

Radiant Heat Approved

Although it may vary with different brands of cork flooring, most cork floors are approved for installation over radiant heating systems. Typically, it's recommended to use a floating cork floor when installing over a radiant heated subfloor. We recommend taking a look at the WeCork Avant Garde Collection for use over radiant heat.

Installation of Cork Flooring

WeCork has a couple different constructions of cork flooring which are pretty easy to install. There is a glue down cork collection (Classic Collection) as well as a variety of click locking floating cork collections (Avant Garde, Eco-Nomical, Timeless Tiles and the Serenity Collection). The click lock cork boards are the least time consuming to install and offer the cleanest installation --- no messy glue necessary.

For installation of their click locking cork floors, WeCork recommends just a simple 6mil plastic sheet as a moisture barrier. We recommend the MoisturBloc. Install the moisture barrier and then click the cork planks/tiles together --- it's that simple. WeCork also offers a few installation videos on their website to help guide homeowners/contractors through the installation process: WeCork Installation Videos.

It's not recommended to use any other padding underneath WeCork's floating cork floors.

WeCork flooring can be installed over concrete, wood subfloors, tile or vinyl. Carpeting must be removed prior to installation of cork flooring.

Variety of Cork Visuals

You may like the idea of cork flooring because of all the benefits it has over other flooring types, but maybe you aren't really feeling the stereotypical visual of cork underfoot. Rest assured, though, WeCork has a huge variety of cork designs to choose from. These range from the paler natural corks to darker exotic looking corks and even cork planks that look just like hardwood flooring (Serenity Hardwood Cork) or tile flooring (Serenity Tile Cork) when installed.

Disadvantages of Cork Flooring

As with most decor options for the home, there are both Pros and Cons to using cork flooring. You've read about the advantages of cork; now, for the disadvantages.

Cork flooring is not indestructible. Just like hardwood flooring, the finish is liable to scratch if something heavy enough is dragged across it. Additionally, cork flooring is not waterproof. Spills are easily cleaned up, true; but standing water on cork flooring (ie. flooding) will eventually cause the cork planks or tiles to warp and/or become discolored. Fading and/or discoloration could also take place if the cork flooring is exposed to heavy, direct sunlight for extended periods of time and on a daily basis. The possibility of this is reduced if the cork floor is shielded with curtains or drapes.

Here at Hosking Hardwood Flooring, WeCork is our cork flooring of choice. WeCork offers a variety of constructions, styles and colors. View the entire WeCork product offering here: WeCork Flooring.

If you are looking for cork UNDERLAYMENT for use UNDER engineered or solid hardwood flooring: Underlayments.

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