Bamboo vs Cork Flooring

Bamboo vs Cork Flooring

By Fortino Rosas / August 3, 2021 / 4 Comments

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    You’re at the home improvement store and it’s down to one final decision: bamboo vs. cork – which is the superior option? For many years, solid hardwoods were the gold standard for bare flooring options. Today, flooring like bamboo and cork are making their impact on consumers.

    While both types of flooring look great, which is the better option for your home? Are you worried about scratches or damage because of kids or pets, or do you want a flooring that’s more resistant to moisture that can be installed in your bathroom? Is comfort most important, or are you more concerned with price?

    We’re going to compare bamboo and cork flooring to help you make the best choice for your home. Flooring is an investment, and you want to make sure that you make the right investment that you can enjoy for many years to come. We’ll evaluate the pros and cons of both flooring types in seven categories so you can feel confident in your flooring purchase.

    In this guide, we’ll explore:

    Side-by-Side Comparison

    DurabilityExtremely durable but is vulnerable to scratchesCan be scratched, dented, or damaged
    CleaningDaily cleaning with broom, dust mop, or vacuum. Can be cleaned with a product designed for use on bamboo flooring. No wet mopping.Daily cleaning with broom, dust mop, or vacuum. Can be wet mopped with a mild cleaning product.
    RefinishingYesYes, depending on the thickness
    InstallationFloating floor, glue-down, nail-downFloating floor, glue down
    Pet-FriendlyYes but nails should be kept trimmed to prevent scratchesCan be scratched or gouged with pet claws
    Price$5 to $7 per square foot$3 to $5 per square foot
    Installation Costs$4 to $5 per square foot$5 to $7 per square foot
    Lifespan50 years or longer40 years or longer
    Flooring GuideBamboo Flooring GuideCork Flooring Guide


    Sure, the floor you want to purchase looks great, but how will it look a year from now? In five years? If it isn’t a durable flooring, it won’t look very good at all.

    Bamboo flooring is extremely durable. In fact, high-quality bamboo holds up as well as solid hardwoods. Unfortunately, it’s also susceptible to the same kind of damage as hardwood flooring.

    The biggest issue with bamboo flooring is that things can scratch it. Furniture legs, high heel shoes, pet claws, and even dirt and other grit can cause unsightly scratches on your floor.

    You can take some care to prevent these problems. You can add protectors to the legs of furniture that you move often, such as dining chairs. Pet nails can be trimmed, shoes should be removed while walking on the floors, and floors should be swept often to keep the clean.

    Because cork is a soft material, things can damage it. Furniture legs, high heels, or sharp objects can puncture or pierce it. Long pet nails can also cause scratches or punctures, so always make sure your pets’ nails are trimmed.

    Heavy objects such as furniture or appliances can cause denting to occur, which you can prevent by using furniture coasters. However, permanent dents may still occur.

    Even though things can scratch it, bamboo flooring is the most durable when you compare it to cork. While cork provides a more cushioned surface, the softness of the floor leaves it vulnerable to damage.

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    Water Resistance

    More consumers are moving away from hardwood flooring because it can be damaged by water. This leaves consumers scrambling to find bare floor options for bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and other rooms where moisture and humidity may be an issue. When exposed to water, do bamboo and cork flooring pass the test?

    Bamboo flooring is slightly more resistant to water than solid hardwoods. This means that if an occasional spill occurs, you won’t have to worry about stains, warping, or other types of damage.

    However, moisture is still a concern with bamboo flooring. This type of flooring can’t be wet mopped, spills should be wiped up promptly, and you should avoid installing this flooring in damp, humid rooms. Exposure to excessive moisture may result in warping, mold or mildew growth, or other damage.

    Cork flooring is naturally water-resistant. When installed, cork flooring is also sealed to protect against spills. Cork can be installed in rooms like bathrooms or basements, although a floating floor installation is not recommended.

    Cork is naturally resistant to mold and mildew, so this isn’t a concern. Even though cork is very resistant to water, floors should never be saturated and spills should always be wiped up.

    If you’re looking for flooring that can be installed in moist, humid rooms without becoming damaged, cork is the right option for you.

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    The lifespan of flooring is how long it will last through normal wear and tear. If you want to install flooring and forget about it for many years, which option is best: bamboo or cork?

    Bamboo flooring has a very long lifespan. On average, most floors last 20 to 25 years. However, higher quality flooring for 50 years or longer – comparable to solid hardwoods.

    Cork flooring is also high-quality. With proper maintenance, most cork flooring can last 40 years or longer.

    Even though both floor types have long lifespans, high-quality bamboo flooring has the longer lifespan.

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    A big consideration for most consumers when selecting new flooring is the cost. If your budget is the determining factor of choosing between bamboo or cork, which is the most cost-effective option?

    It’s important to remember that there’s no set price for flooring. The quality and thickness of the flooring, the brand name, and even the region in which you live all can affect the price, which is why we provide a range of average prices. You may find options that are slightly less or more expensive than the listed price ranges.

    Bamboo flooring is less expensive than bare flooring options like solid hardwood, which can cost $10 per square foot or more. On average, bamboo flooring is more affordable at $5 to $7 per square foot.

    Cork flooring is even more affordable. The average price of cork flooring is between $3 to $5 per square foot.

    Even though both flooring types are affordable, cork flooring has the edge and is the least expensive option of the two.

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    When calculating the price of your new flooring, the cost of the materials aren’t all that you need to consider. If you plan to hire a professional contractor, you’ll need to calculate the price of installation as well.

    For the professional installation of bamboo flooring, you should expect to pay an average of $4 to $6 per square foot. In some areas and for more complicated installations, you may pay $9 or more per square foot.

    If you plan to pay a contractor to install cork flooring, pricing is around $5 to $7 per square foot. Again, these numbers may vary based on the size and difficulty of the job, as well as the average rates in your region.

    If you prefer to save money by doing the do-it-yourself route, which flooring is the easiest to install?

    There are several ways to install bamboo flooring. The easiest and most common is to install it as a floating floor, which doesn’t require adhesives or nails. You can do this type of installation with tongue-and-groove or uniclic flooring.

    If you opt to not install a floating floor, you can also nail down or glue down your floors. No matter what type of installation you do, you need a few basic tools, including a measuring tape and a circular or table saw. Depending on the type of installation you select, you may also need flooring adhesive or nails.

    To install cork flooring, you can do a floating floor installation with click-together flooring. Gluing the flooring down is also an option. Like bamboo flooring, you will not need basic tools if you opt to install cork yourself.

    It’s a close race in this category, but because it is less expensive to install on average, bamboo inches ahead of cork.

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    Whether you’re walking around cleaning up your house or standing in the kitchen gathered with family, you spend a lot of time on your feet in your house. For many, comfort is extremely important. Most bare flooring is extremely hard and uncomfortable – is the same true of bamboo or cork?

    Bamboo flooring is hard – similar to solid hardwoods. Some darker, carbonized bamboo floors may be a bit softer and more comfortable. It’s important to note that these floors may also be more prone to scratches and damage.

    Like hardwoods, bamboo flooring can also get cold during the winter. An underfloor heating system can be installed to warm up floors, but this can cost several thousand dollars.

    On the other hand, cork is a very soft floor. While this makes it more prone to damage, as discussed earlier, it is also much softer to walk on than other types of bare flooring.

    Cork also has sound and heat insulating properties. It is a quieter type of flooring, and it stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

    Because of its cushioned feel and insulating properties, cork flooring is easily the most comfortable flooring when compared to bamboo.

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    Most of us don’t want to spend hours cleaning our floors to keep them looking their best. If you’re the low-maintenance homeowner, which flooring is the best flooring for your household?

    To clean bamboo floors on a daily basis, you can use a broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner designed for bare floor use. This is sufficient for cleaning dirt, dust, and everyday messes.

    For a deeper clean, use a dry mop or cloth with a cleaner designed for use on bamboo floors. You should never use a wet mop or steam mop on this type of flooring.

    For daily cleaning of cork floors, you can follow the same process. Use a broom, dust mop, or vacuum designed for bare floor use. Make sure to choose a model without a beater bar to prevent scratches, dents, and other damage.

    To clean cork floors, you can add dish soap or another neutral cleaner to warm water. You can then apply this to the floor using a sponge mop or cloth. Do not over-saturate the floor with water, and you should avoid using steam mops to prevent excess moisture.

    Even though both bamboo and cork are fairly easy to keep clean, cork doesn’t require any special cleaners and it can get wet, making it the easier, lower maintenance choice.

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    Which is better: cork or bamboo flooring?

    Most homeowners prefer cork to bamboo flooring because it’s a much better insulator. Additionally, cork is more comfortable to walk on because it’s springy. You can also wax cork flooring and it’s highly durable. It’s also more sustainable than bamboo because you don’t have to cut down trees to harvest cork. 

    Although bamboo flooring is water resistant, cork is even more resistant to water damage because it contains suberin. This is one of the reasons cork is used to seal wine and champagne bottles. On the other hand, bamboo looks more natural and provides a realistic hardwood floor look. It also lasts 10 years longer than cork and it’s highly durable because of its extreme density.

    Is bamboo more sustainable than cork?

    Bamboo and cork are considered to be the most sustainable types of natural flooring on the market. Bamboo grows extremely fast because it’s grass, not wood. Once planted, the bamboo will be ready to harvest after five years. 

    However, cork can be harvested without cutting down trees because it’s stripped from the bark of a tree. The tree can continue to grow after it’s been stripped so there’s no need to replant trees to harvest more cork. So cork would be the most sustainable flooring.

    How long will cork floors last?

    If you take care of your cork flooring it can last for more than 40 years. It’s resistant to mold and termites. What’s more, cork is also scratch-resistant and won’t get damaged by water. However, if you’ve chosen a glue-down installation, water may affect the adhesive so it’s best not to drench your cork flooring in water.

    How long do bamboo floors last?

    The average lifespan for bamboo flooring is 20 to 25 years. However, if you take care of your bamboo flooring it can last for more than 50 years. Bamboo flooring is extremely dense and is considered to be even harder than most hardwood materials. This is because it has a janka range between 3000 and 5000. It’s water-resistant and you can refinish the bamboo floors if they start to look dull or have too many scratches.

    Is cork flooring bad for the environment?

    No, cork is not bad for the environment because it’s biodegradable and has a clean manufacturing process. This means cork won’t release VOCs or chemicals into the air. Cork is also a renewable resource and the environment isn’t harmed when harvesting cork for flooring or other items.

    Final Verdict

    You can’t go wrong with choosing either bamboo or cork flooring. Both are extremely durable, high-quality flooring types that would look beautiful in any home. However, you can narrow down your selection based on the top qualities that you’re looking for in your new flooring.

    If you want a very durable flooring that’s easy to install and comparable to solid hardwood, choose bamboo flooring. If you’re looking for an affordable option that is comfortable, more resistant to water, and easy to clean and maintain, choose cork flooring.

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    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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    4 thoughts on “Bamboo vs Cork Flooring”

    1. Our bamboo floor $32k has been eaten by white ants all the lacquer has worn off. Soft as soft. Disgusting flooring especially living on a horse property. Not designed for children either or dogs both will trash it very quickly expensive to remove too
      Never again will I buy into the sales pitch

    2. I installed cork flooring in open concept floor plan in kitchen, dining and living- with an area rug in the furniture area of living room. The flooring was fabulous to walk on, we dropped many, but never broke a single glass or plate and it was quiet and always a comfortable temperature. This was new construction and 20+ years later is still looks amazing! Clean with moist terry mop – hot water only – and it looks brand new every time. Place felt pads on bar stool and dining room chair and table legs and you have no indentations or marks in flooring.

      1. I am considering cork for my sewing room flor but am concerned about dents from heavy storage units. You said felt pads protected foor from table and chairs legs, any experience with bookcase or similar units?

      2. Hi Jana
        Did you put a sealer coat or two on the cork? Also, do pets mark the cork? I’m thinking of installing it throughout my upstairs – landing, kitchen. Lounge, bathroom, toilet, two bedrooms and an office. I’m hoping it will be stylish, last well, provide sound and heat insulation and be easy to look after. Am I on to a winner?
        Many thanks.

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