Do you look for words like sustainable or eco-friendly (ahem – cork flooring) when you set out to go buy something new? Or do you drive your friends and family crazy insisting that you read every label looking for anything listed that could be toxic to you or the environment?
If so, then you are a great candidate for cork flooring in your home. And if this is not you, there are still plenty of reasons to like it.
Cork flooring is about as green as it gets. Harvesting doesn’t damage trees, and very little goes to waste.
It’s good for anyone with allergies because it resists mold and mildew. And since it is all-natural, it doesn’t emit any toxic gases.
Cork is also easy on the ears, soft on the feet, and light on the pocketbook. Plus, installation is relatively simple if you can follow directions.
While it has its quirks, cork flooring continues to grow in popularity. And if you keep it maintained well, it will last for many years to come.
Before you install cork flooring in your home, read reviews of different types of flooring & decide if it’s best for your kitchen, living room, or basement by considering its pros and cons as well as its durability and maintenance requirements.
Cork Flooring Resources
Cork Flooring Pros
- Pattern & color choices
- Easy to maintain
- Competitive pricing
- Relatively quiet
- Kind on bare-feet
- Positive health impact
- Style points on your friends & neighbors
1. There are many stylish patterns and colors to choose from.
Cork flooring is unique and versatile in its patterns, shapes, and colors. You can use cork to achieve the look of natural wood, painted tiles, or mix it up to create your own design.
Install planks in your favorite wood tone for the look of hardwood floors. Choose from colors like maple, walnut, or driftwood to create a warm, natural environment.
If natural stone is more your speed, try cork tiles. Your friends and family may be surprised to learn it is cork.
Design a pattern using different colors and shapes of cork for a custom, one-of-a-kind look for your floor.
2. It is easy to maintain.
Cork flooring is easy to maintain if you follow its care instructions. With minimal care, it can keep its look for up to 40 years.
It is hard to scratch or tear. And because of its “bouncy” nature, most furniture indentations won’t last long.
It is the ideal flooring for high-traffic areas. So, install it anywhere that children and pets roam free.
You can’t use regular cleaning products on cork. However, with a little sweeping and the occasional damp mop, your floors will stay in tip-top shape.
3. Cork flooring pricing is very competitive.
While it is not the cheapest thing on the market, it is priced like other popular options such as tile, carpet, and hardwood. So you won’t break the bank by choosing cork floors.
Most cork flooring options range anywhere from $3 to $8 per square foot in price. And because cork is easy to install, you can always cut costs by doing it yourself.
It comes in both interlocking tiles and glue down options. The glue down tiles are generally the least expensive of the two types.
4. It’s a “Quiet” choice in flooring.
What do we mean by “quiet” flooring? Well, it absorbs sound well.
Homes without absorbent materials such as carpet and draperies tend to echo. Cork flooring is one of the few hard surfaces that reduces this noise.
Need to absorb some of the sounds of your child testing out that new musical instrument they got? It works well in rooms with pianos, or any other musical instruments are practiced.
Do you like to get up early or stay up late for a little time to yourself? Because cork absorbs sound, you can move through the house without waking the rest of your family.
5. You will enjoy walking with bare feet in your home.
Cork feels soft to touch and cushions you underfoot. This means that you can stand on it for long stretches of time without feeling stress on your back or legs.
It also stays at room temperature, so it feels warm to bare feet.
You may even decide to stop wearing socks or slippers inside the house.
6. It is one of the healthiest flooring options.
How does flooring impact your health? Cork flooring is anti-microbial and resistant to mold and mildew.
This is good for small children and anyone with allergies.
Cork flooring also doesn’t release gases or microfibers that can affect indoor air quality the way that other flooring options do.
7. You can brag to all your friends how eco-friendly your flooring is.
Not only is cork flooring good for you, it is good for the environment. No other flooring product is as green as cork flooring.
Cork harvesting is very sustainable. Trees must be at least 25 years old and are harvested every 14 years after that.
And because the cork flooring is a byproduct of manufacturing cork stoppers for wine bottles, very little waste is generated.
Cork Flooring Cons
- Vulnerable to water damage
- Need to avoid sunlight
- Avoid heavy objects
- Needs to be re-sealed frequently
1. It can be vulnerable to water damage.
Water damage can be an issue with cork flooring, especially if it is not properly sealed. So, make sure yours has a good coat of polyurethane sealant on it.
It can expand when wet which causes it to look uneven. Too much water can also cause it to crack or lose its shape.
While it is water resistant, it has its limits. In the event of a flood, you can expect cork flooring to warp.
2. You will have to watch how much sunlight it gets.
Repeated exposure to the sun can cause cork flooring to lighten or discolor. This may limit where in your home you can install it.
Which can put a damper on your plans.
If you do install cork flooring in areas with lots of light, you should protect it with window coverings or use of rugs.
3. Be careful putting anything too heavy on it.
Although cork flooring is a durable material, it does not do well with heavy weight.
If you drop an extremely heavy object on it, it can dent.
Physical damage on cork flooring can come from many sources. You must always be mindful of this when you have cork floors.
4. Cork floors must be sealed right away and sealed again every few years to protect them.
Proper sealing with a polyurethane topcoat protects cork flooring from all sorts of damage.
However, if it is not sealed right away and sealed properly, your cork flooring is left vulnerable. And damage that was avoidable can harm your floors.
This is especially a concern if you are installing the floor on your own.
How to Find a High Quality Cork Floor
While there are many options of cork flooring out there, not all of them are equal.
Look for a manufacturer with a good reputation. And choose a cork floor that comes with a reasonable warranty.
Ask for samples to take home and perform a few tests on them. At home, test how the samples hold up against water.
You can also put a sample under the leg of a piece of furniture to see if it recovers from any dent marks. Or drag something across its surface to see if it scratches easily.
Good, high quality cork board should hold up against these tests.
So, start with a reputable brand, take home samples, and see how it holds up when you put it to the test.
Cork Board Costs
As mentioned earlier, cork board flooring is comparable in cost to many of the other available options. Whether you choose to have it installed or do it yourself also impacts the price.
To give you a better idea of what it will run you to install cork flooring, here are some estimated costs:
- Cork flooring costs in the range of $3 to $8 per square foot to purchase.
- The average price of cork flooring is $5 per square foot.
- Installation runs approximately $1 per square foot.
Keep in mind, however, that these are estimates. Factors such as where you are located, the brand/style you choose, and difficult installation areas such as a staircase can also impact the price.
When it comes to durability, cork flooring gets mixed reviews. Some people rave about how easy it is to maintain, while others complain of how quickly it can be damaged.
The key here is to buy a good-quality cork flooring and to keep up with its maintenance. You can reduce the risk of damage by re-sealing it every few years.
Like all types of flooring, including Bamboo, cork flooring accumulates dirt and grime from foot traffic and wear.
Don’t use regular cleaning products on cork. Regular sweeping, a damp mop, and the occasional solvent paste wax will keep your floors clean and well-maintained.
The bottom line is that cork flooring has its issues just like any other type of flooring, but if you follow its cleaning instructions and take care of it, cork floors will last as long as 40 years.
There are specific cleaning and maintenance requirements for both sealed and unsealed cork floors.
Sealed Cork Floors
- To ensure durability of your sealed cork floors, vacuum the floor thoroughly to remove loose dirt and grime.
- Sweep the floors daily to prevent dirt buildup.
- Mop the floor regularly and dry it with a soft cloth. Avoid leaving excess moisture on cork flooring.
Unsealed Cork Floors
- Vacuum the floor thoroughly and regularly to remove loose dirt and grime.
- Mop the floor regularly using foam rubber sponge to remove dirt and grime.
- Moisten a soft cloth with water and use it to blot remaining dirt.
- Avoid leaving excess water on unsealed cork flooring.
Cork Flooring Reviews
A wide selection of cork flooring options can be found at Home Depot. The Heritage Mill brand carried here received the highest consumer reviews.
Cork flooring planks at Home Depot range from five-inch widths up to over 10 inches wide. And the color and style options are designed to look like wood floors or stone tiles.
Most are floating floors, however, you can find a few glue down options as well. And professional installation is available at an additional cost.
Home Depot opened its doors in 1979 by two guys who were fired from their jobs at a home improvement store. Their goal was to provide homeowners with the materials and resources to do their own projects at home.
They are committed to hiring and training a sales team with a high level of knowledge and expertise to help their customers.
Lowe’s carries cork flooring by Cali and USFloors. Both brands have received moderate to favorable ratings by consumers.
USFloors is the most popular brand of cork sold at Lowe’s. However, more style options are available with the Cali brand.
Cali offers planks five or seven inches wide and USFloors planks are 12 inches wide. Both brands have interlocking planks for easy installation.
Lowe’s has been around since the 1940s where it first opened in North Carolina. Although it began as a hardware store, it has since expanded its offerings to become the second largest home improvement retailer in the world.
The type of cork flooring carried here is the Lisbon brand. Lisbon is a trademark brand of Lumber Liquidators.
Most reviews of Lisbon cork flooring are favorable. People like the look and feel of the product.
However, many people who installed it on their own found the installation to be difficult, especially at the beginning of the project.
The company’s Lisbon cork flooring comes in both glue down and floating floor options. The floating floors can be installed with or without underlayment.
Lumber Liquidators has been in the flooring business for over 20 years. In 2015, they faced controversy over the safety of their flooring, however, since then they have voluntarily worked with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to test the safety of their products.
Menards carries the brands of Amorim® and Crown Lake Royal cork flooring. Amorim is a global leader in cork flooring.
Both cork flooring brands offer several choices in colors. And each one uses the floating floor installation method.
Menards itself has received mixed reviews on the quality and installation of the flooring products it sells.
The company began in the late 1950s as a pole building business. It has now become a leading retail home center, especially in the Midwest, and currently has stores in 14 states.
This up and coming flooring company carries a variety of cork flooring brands including the popular Wicanders Cork line.
Quality Flooring 4 Less has received some very high-rated reviews and some not-so-impressive ones. It did receive the Best of 2016 award by Houzz.
The cork flooring selection here is wide and varied. Brands include Wicanders, APC Cork, and US Floors Natural cork, just to name a few.
Unlike other companies that have physical retail outlets, Quality Flooring 4 Less is strictly an online retailer of cork and other types of flooring.
Homeowners have different opinions about the suitability of cork flooring in their homes.
John seems to like the versatile nature of cork flooring. He says:
I like cork flooring because it combines cork, wood and digital photographic veneers to create a wide range of floors that cover the aesthetics of traditional hardwood, natural stone, and cork. This means that I can get the comfort, durability, and eco-friendly features of cork with whatever look I want
Adrian prefers the customizable nature of cork flooring. He says:
Cork flooring comes in a wide variety of textures, colors, and sizes, making it easily customizable for those with design flair.
Randi Houser says:
I have two dogs that sometimes urinate on the floors. I am not comfortable with cork flooring since I was advised that I have to add an extra layer of sealer to fill in the seams, which is just extra work for me.