Cork on floors? That may sound like an invitation for stains, scratches and dents—but cork floors might be the most durable and eco-friendly flooring available today.
Cork is a naturally sustainable “wood” product that does not absorb liquid—that’s why winemakers use cork to seal their bottles!
Surprisingly, cork floors also come in a huge variety of colors, textures and patterns. The design possibilities are almost limitless.
They are also soft underfoot, warm to the touch, highly resistant to dents and stains, and last for years with little sign of wear and tear.
This article will not be an in-depth exploration of cork floors, but rather a look at one of the most prominent and pioneering brands in cork flooring today: Globus Cork. But first, a little about cork floors.
- Why Choose Cork Flooring?
- What Makes Globus Different?
- How Do I Care for Globus Cork Floors?
- Is Globus Cork Flooring Eco-Friendly?
- Are People Generally Happy with Globus Floors?
- Cons of Cork Floors
Why Choose Cork Flooring?
Cork and other natural materials are becoming more and more popular for homeowners. Why? Not only are they gorgeous, but many are environmentally sustainable, durable and long-lasting flooring options.
While cork is technically a wood flooring product, there are benefits to cork over traditional wood flooring. Manufacturers produce cork flooring from cork tree bark and they harvest it without harming the tree itself.
Once the bark grows back—after several years—people can harvest it again. That means manufacturers can use the same trees for decades without cutting down any trees.
You can use cork flooring successfully in many different applications and in many different climates, unlike some other wood flooring. It’s also very easy to clean and maintain. Dust mopping, sweeping and a monthly damp mop is all you need.
Cork is moisture-resistant and anti-bacterial, making it a safe and healthy flooring choice for families.
The benefits don’t end there! Cork flooring is also far warmer and quieter than almost any other floor type. Its natural springy, soft nature prevents heat and cooling loss making it energy-efficient in any season and almost all climates. It also makes it resistant to dents—they do sometimes appear but spring back.
Globus Cork Flooring
Globus Cork describes itself as a “premier provider and a pioneer in the development of colored cork flooring” and has an exceptional record for their high quality and sustainable product choices.
Based in the U.S., they offer an impressive line of styles, colors, shapes and borders, making their line one of the most versatile cork flooring collections available in the market. There are several features of Globus floors that set their brand apart from other suppliers, especially the “big box” brands.
With every different brand of cork flooring comes different material percentages, adhesives, finishes and top layers. While some manufacturers mix materials or even use vinyl as the top layer, Globus Cork tiles are 100% cork. Edges won’t separate, peel or cause peaking at the seams.
Globus flooring uses a proprietary finish specially formulated for cork, which prevents small cracks from appearing over time but still allows for “give” in the flooring so it remains soft underfoot.
The Globus collection is expansive with 25 different tile shapes and sizes including rectangles, squares, hexagons and triangles; and more than 40 unique colors. In addition, they can make any of their colors in any of their available shapes, giving designers and creative homeowners almost unlimited floor design options. The available styles offer three different rich textures—Nugget, Striata and Traditional—exclusive colors, and more than 27 tile layout options.
Their glue-down cork tiles offer the greenest green flooring with no gas emissions, nor VOCs in the adhesive. The pre-glued tiles also save time and headache for the DIYer. Globus only uses solvent-free, water-based products in both the manufacture and adhesives in their cork flooring.
They also offer floating floor options (note that floating floors are not 100% cork, but fiberboard/cork combination). Designers made both of these to effectively deal with the environmental expansion and contraction that occurs with all natural products.
Care and Maintenance
Caring for a Globus Cork floor is easier than you may think! Cleaning cork floors is fairly straightforward.
Globus sells their own line of floor cleaner that is proven healthy for cork floors. You should never use wax or any ammonia-based floor cleaning products, or flood the floors with water. Steaming floors is also not recommended.
Globus floors have four layers of finish by the time people finish installing them. Wear on the floors, if and when it occurs, will show up on the top wear layer.
They suggest using their cork polish product to refresh the tiles and address any visible wear. They recommend doing that once or twice a year in residential applications (more often for commercial use).
The Eco-Friendliest Cork Flooring
As mentioned earlier, Globus was a pioneer in sustainable cork harvesting and floor manufacturing, and that innovation continues today. Globus glue-down cork tiles are the most environmentally-friendly product in the cork flooring line.
The manufacturer does not need to cut down the cork oak tree to make any cork product. Rather, they harvest the bark of the tree and then it can replenish for the next 9 years, leaving the tree undamaged.
Amazingly, Globus Cork flooring is made from the leftover pieces of cork created during wine cork manufacturing! Plus, all the glue-down tiles, adhesive, stains and finishes are water-based so they do not produce gasses and do not contain any VOCs.
Over the last several years, Globus Cork has received numerous environmental certifications and awards. They qualify for LEED credits in several categories, and were named by Hanley-Woods Building Products Magazine as a “most valuable product.” They have also been named Top 10 Manufacturer in NYC and received the ADEX Award for Design Excellence.
What Reviews Say
With all those awards, it’s not surprising to learn that people love Globus Cork floors. During our research, we found almost no negative comments, but there were a few who had some concerns with dents showing up on their samples. This likely occurred because the samples are not sealed.
Most builders, designers and homeowners agree these floors are not only beautiful and conducive to creative designs, but also last a very long time. One blogger even showed pictures of her floor over the last seven years and her floors still looked as good as the day they were installed. In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with Globus Cork.
For more information on Globus Cork, visit www.corkfloor.com
Cons of Cork Floors
Aesthetics – Cork flooring is unique to say the least. It has a very specific look which will either attract you or leave you cold. Of course it is this very uniqueness that attracts many homeowners who love the informal, warm and slightly retro look of cork. No two cork planks or tiles will be exactly the same, so if it’s a plain uniform floor you’re after cork is probably not for you.
Refinishing – Or rather a lack thereof. Given its softness and thin wear layer (engineered cork flooring) refinishing cork floors isn’t really viable. You could use a hand sander and re-seal a small area to make minor repairs, but you won’t have the option of completely re-sanding the floor and returning it to new.
Re-sealing – Cork glue down tiles can work great in a bathroom or kitchen. With both the glue and several polyurethane layers on top you will have a pretty impregnable water-proof floor. You will, however have to keep it this way. Unsealed cork does not stand up to moisture at all well, so you may need to re-seal your cork flooring in wet areas after a time.
$4 to $8 per square foot is a pretty common/standard price for a good quality cork floor of either type.
The majority of residential cork installations are kitchens, followed by bathrooms. Often, cork is installed in commercial locations which have much higher use than homes, and it holds up fine. Cork will last many decades, although it will age just like other woods and can fade in direct sunlight without UV protection just like other woods.