Column: Cork flooring a comfortable, savvy design choice

Cork is a renewable resource made from tree bark that’s a greener alterna- tive to traditional hardwood flooring materials. (Submitted photo)

Cork is a renewable resource made from tree bark that’s a greener alterna- tive to traditional hardwood flooring materials. (Submitted photo)

Eco-friendly and full of natural health benefits, cork flooring is experiencing a growth in popularity among homeowners. And it’s easy to see why. Let’s take a closer look at cork flooring and the basic facts that you should know before installing it in your home.

Cork is a renewable resource made from tree bark that’s a greener alternative to traditional hardwood flooring materials. By definition, “renewable resource” refers to a material that can be harvested without impacting the environment. When cork is harvested, only the bark of the tree is removed, which means the tree can continue to grow after the product is removed. The bark is replenished every nine years, at which point it can be harvested once again. This is great news for any homeowner looking to cut down on their environmental footprint and install a greener hard surface flooring option.

Many of the benefits from cork flooring stem from its natural-occurring physical properties. Cork is quite durable and resilient, which means when it’s used for flooring, it will hold up well against foot traffic. The material retains heat, so it will feel warmer under your feet than other hard surface options. Its cushioned texture makes it an excellent flooring option for people who suffer from joint conditions or those with young children. Additionally, it can help absorb sound waves, which makes it a good choice for rooms where acoustics could become an issue. And as any wine aficionado knows, cork is naturally resistant to mold. This makes it one of the more hypoallergenic flooring options available: great news for allergy sufferers.

On the flip side, cork flooring can be a little pricey. While a little more comfortable to walk on, cork’s spongy texture does not hold up well under the weight of heavy furniture. You’ll also have to be careful with sharp objects, as cork can get scratched or cut fairly easily. This means that pet nails, high heels and other sharp objects could scratch the surface of your flooring as with any other type of hardwood.

To ensure that your cork flooring has a long lifespan, you’ll want to proactively protect it from scratches or dents. Safeguard the flooring and install soft pads or coasters underneath your heaviest furniture.

Before installing cork, carefully weigh all of the pros and cons and analyze the characteristics of the room first. If placed in a suitable room, cork flooring can be a comfortable and savvy design choice.