Concrete vs Cork Flooring

Concrete vs Cork Flooring

By Fortino Rosas / October 5, 2021 / 1 Comments

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    Homeowners looking for an alternate type of flooring to standard hardwood floors or carpets might find themselves weighing the pros and cons of concrete versus cork flooring. These are two flooring types that are increasing in popularity for homes. People are seeking something different. But which is better, concrete or cork flooring?

    In order to make a sound decision, you’ll want to take a look at all the characteristics of both types of flooring. That will help you to know which one is better for you.

    This could include not only the price of the flooring, but the properties that might make it good or bad for a particular room in your home. Knowing this information before you make your purchase will be crucial to your enjoyment of the floor.

    In this guide, we’ll explore:

    Side-by-Side Comparison

    Make-UpMade from same hard materials as in building constructionMade from bark of oak trees; springy properties
    CostAnywhere from $2-$30 per square footAnywhere from $4-$8 per square foot
    DurabilityCould last a lifetime; may need a re-seal every few yearsCould last about 25 years; needs re-seal every 5 years
    AppearanceVery modern look with various dyes and etchingsMore classic look; fewer color options
    ComfortHard surface, so not very comfortableNaturally springy and very comfortable with cushion
    MaintenanceEasy maintenance; won't stain if spills cleaned upEasy maintenance; susceptible to staining
    SafetyHard surface; not a tripping hazzard, but no padding for falls or dropsSoft surface; can be a tripping hazard, but cushions falls or drops


    Before you can make a truly informed decision about which flooring type to choose, you should know what each flooring type is made of. First, it is important to understand its composition. Then, you can have a better idea of why each flooring type has different pros and cons. So which is better in that way, concrete or cork flooring?

    Concrete flooring is made of the same materials that are used in the concrete in buildings and other construction. It is tailored for indoor usage.

    Concrete flooring has been around for quite a while. However, it has been used in the past mostly for commercial buildings. Concrete flooring can be stained or etched. That will give you a look different than the typical gray look we’re all familiar with.

    Cork flooring is made from bark that is harvested from oak trees. Because of this, cork is a natural flooring that is a “green” alternative to those who are environmentally-conscious. Cork also has springy properties, which provides an extra cushion under your feet.

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    Cost is often a deciding factor when it comes to choosing one type of flooring over another. It isn’t the only thing that matters.

    However, it can certainly eliminate one type of material over another if it is out of your flooring budget range. On the other hand, it can help sway a decision one way or another if all other things are equal.

    The price of concrete flooring can vary quite substantially. At its cheapest, concrete flooring can cost roughly $2 per square foot. That is if all you desire is the standard gray concrete poured on your floor.

    Opting for a dyed concrete or any type of etching to give a more intricate design? In that case, a concrete floor could run as high as $30 per square foot.

    Cork flooring, on the other hand, is more expensive on the low end. However, it doesn’t run nearly as high on the upper end. The least expensive versions of cork flooring can cost as little as $4 per square foot.

    If you choose a higher-end type of cork flooring, it could be almost double that. That would be up to about $8 per square foot.

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    One of the biggest cost factors that people don’t often consider when they’re making a flooring choice is how durable the options are. You can’t assess the total cost of a floor by just looking at the cost of the materials and concrete or cork installation. You should also consider how long the floor will last.

    If cared for properly, a concrete floor could outlast the life of everyone in your home. That’s because it is an ultra-durable material that was created to stand the test of time. If your concrete floor is in a high-traffic area, you may need to re-apply the finish to the floor every few years or so.

    Cork flooring is typically more durable than another traditional type of wood flooring. Depending on how well you care for it, and what type of material you choose, a cork floor could last up to 25 years before you have to replace it. One other thing to consider, though, is that you may need to seal a cork floor every five years or so to keep its waterproof characteristics.

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    The way a floor looks is the factor that most people care about first and foremost. If they don’t like the way a flooring type looks, they are not likely to gravitate toward it, even if there are a lot of pros to choosing that type of flooring. On the other hand, if they love the way a certain type of floor looks, they might flock to it and do their best to fit it into their price range.

    One of the biggest advantages of a concrete floor is that it provides more options in terms of look than just about any other flooring type out there. That’s because you can make whatever design you want with concrete flooring. You can dye concrete to make it whatever color you want, and you can even etch designs into it to give it a very unique, modern look.

    Cork flooring, on the other hand, won’t give you nearly as many options in terms of appearance. Cork flooring has that more classic look similar to a hardwood flooring type, since it is made from the bark of wood trees. While you can stain a cork floor, you won’t have nearly as many options in terms of design of color palette to choose from.

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    An area that often isn’t in the front of everyone’s mind when they are making a choice about a flooring type is how it feels under their feet. But this is an extremely important factor that you should consider when making your choice. So which is better, concrete or cork flooring?

    As you should already know, concrete is an extremely hard surface. As a result, it isn’t the best surface to use if you’re going to be standing on it for long stretches of time in bare feet or without shoes.

    Concrete doesn’t provide a lot of support for your feet. Concrete flooring also doesn’t absorb heat well, so it is often colder than other flooring types.

    Cork flooring, on the other hand, is naturally springy, and therefore, provides an extra cushion for your feet. It is actually one of the more comfortable types of flooring available, because its natural properties make it so without the need for any extra padding or support.

    Cork flooring also absorbs heat well, and provides a warm surface. These are some of the main attractions of cork flooring.

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    No one wants to be spending all their time cleaning and caring for their floor meticulously just to keep it lasting long and looking good. We are all accepting of the fact that there will be maintenance that is needed for our floors, but we don’t want to spend all day doing it. So which flooring type is better for maintenance, concrete or cork flooring?

    Concrete flooring is extremely low-maintenance. This type of flooring needs a typical dusting and vacuuming a few times a week, like any other flooring type does. While you’ll also want to clean up any spills right away, concrete flooring won’t stain from a spill as long as liquid doesn’t sit on it for too long.

    Cork flooring is also easy to maintain on a daily basis. Like other hardwood flooring types, a dusting and vacuuming with hardwood vac a few times a week is necessary to keep it clean and looking good. However, cork flooring is very susceptible to staining from spills because the cork material is very absorbent.

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    Another important factor to consider when making a decision on flooring type is how safe the floor will be for your home and, most importantly, your family. This decision really needs to be based on your particular family, such as whether you have pets and/or children.

    Concrete flooring is a safe floor in the sense that it isn’t susceptible to lifting or chipping with ease, and therefore isn’t a tripping hazard. However, because it is a hard surface, it doesn’t provide a cushion for falls or for if you drop a breakable object. It is a hypoallergenic flooring type, though, so it won’t absorb odors or dander that can come from pets.

    The properties of cork flooring make it almost the exact opposite of concrete flooring when it comes to safety. Unlike concrete, cork flooring is susceptible to lifts or chips and can become a tripping hazard. However, because it is springy in nature, it provides that extra support for falls or drops. Like concrete, cork flooring is also naturally hypoallergenic.

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    Can I use Murphy Oil Soap on cork floors?

    Before you decide to clean your cork floors with any commercial cleaner, check your warranty. If you treat the floors with a solution you’re not supposed to, you can void your warranty, leaving you completely responsible for any damage or replacement costs. For example, most cork flooring manufacturers specifically mention that you should stay away from Murphy’s Oil Soap solution.
    Although this cleaner is formulated for wood, cork is a gentle flooring type that’s susceptible to stains and damage. So if you ever want to use a commercial solution, find one that’s specifically made for cork floors.

    How do you maintain cork flooring?

    For daily cleaning, you’ll need a broom or a vacuum cleaner meant for hardwood floors. You can use them to remove dirt, dust, and debris and clean the floors by dusting and vacuuming several times a week. 
    Cork flooring tends to absorb liquids that later leave stains. If liquid spills ever happen on your cork floors, act fast and take care of them right away. Ensure that your floors are always dry, and avoid using steam mops. Read the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to prevent unwanted damage and educate yourself on how to care for these floors properly.

    What is the best cleaner for cork and concrete floors?

    The best cleaners for cork and concrete floors are mild and specifically made for the type of flooring you want to clean. When you buy your flooring, it will come with a booklet that includes cleaning instructions, products you can use, and products to avoid. You should always opt for the recommended cleaners, because they won’t cause damage and you won’t void your warranty.
    Avoid solutions that contain bleach, ammonia, or abrasive cleaners, and always choose gentle cloths that won’t cause damage. You should also wax cork floors once or twice per year.

    Can I use Bona on cork floors?

    Yes, Bona is a basic floor cleaner that you can use on cork floors in most cases; however, as we mentioned before, you have to check with the manufacturer first. If they approve this cleaner, you can use it without fearing that you’ll lose the warranty on your floors.
    Bona also has several products specifically made for cork floors, including a high traffic polyurethane satin finish solution. These solutions come with instructions you have to study and follow to prevent flooring damage.

    The Verdict

    Taking all these factors into consideration will help you make a well-informed decision between a concrete and cork floor. Because of its properties, concrete floors are often a great choice for high-traffic areas such as main living spaces and even bathrooms and powder rooms. Cork floors, meanwhile, are often a great choice for main living spaces as well as bedrooms and rooms where children congregate often.

    It is important to take into consideration the room you will be installing the floor in, how you intend to use that room and who will be using that room most often before you make your final choice on which type of floor to purchase.

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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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    1 thought on “Concrete vs Cork Flooring”

    1. It’s good to know that concrete flooring offers a lot of look options to choose from compared to other types of flooring. My husband and I are thinking if we should replace our carpets since they take too much effort to clean and ends up being dusty all the time. We’ll consult a nearby contractor and see how soon they can install polished concrete flooring on our home.

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