To some of us, cork flooring might bring back memories of the 1970s and 80s, when cork was seen regularly on the walls and floors of our homes.
However, cork flooring is enjoying a renaissance, and it’s not hard to see why.
Cork is a sustainable resource, since the bark of the cork tree, which is used to produce cork products, can be harvested around every 8 to 14 years. Between harvests, the tree is left to renew its bark. The production process leaves very little carbon footprint too, so it’s a good environmentally friendly flooring option. In fact, cork flooring is actually a by-product of wine cork production, as the fragments are collected and bound together to produce cork tiles or planks.
As a floor covering, cork is extremely versatile. Naturally anti-bacterial, it is hard wearing, fire-resistant and both thermally and acoustically insulating, cutting down on noise and keeping the floor warm, which is great for cooler climates like the UK. It’s also easily cut to size and can be installed quite simply, either in tiles or planks. Different colours and finishes are available, although it’s most readily available in its natural shades, from pale honey to a richer, deeper golden brown.
Look after your cork floor and it could last for decades. Cork will need treating with a sealant or wax, and while it is water resistant, it’s not the best choice for bathrooms or areas that are likely to get very wet. The surface can also be scratched by pets’ claws or damaged by shoe heels, so it might not suit very high-foot traffic parts of your home.
Looking for an alternative?
If you are wondering what surface to choose and need something a little tougher, engineered wood flooring is a good alternative. Online retailers like UK Flooring Direct (http://www.ukflooringdirect.co.uk/engineered-wood-flooring) have a broad range of engineered flooring, and will happily offer customers advice and tips prior to purchase, to ensure customers are making an informed choice.
If you like a ‘close to nature’ look, engineered wood has the natural appeal of cork and wood, but with the benefit of being extremely durable. It is available in a wide range of finishes, from light to dark woods and also painted finishes. Added to that, it’s easy to install and easy to replace a damaged section if necessary.