Bamboo vs Cork Flooring

Bamboo vs Cork Flooring

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

 BambooCork
DurabilityExtremely durable but is vulnerable to scratchesCan be scratched, dented, or damaged
Water-ResistantNoYes
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
WaxingNoYes
Flooring GuideBamboo Flooring GuideCork Flooring Guide

Durability

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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Lifespan

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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Price

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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Installation

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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Comfort

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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Cleaning

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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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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