Cork flooring is made from a renewable resource like bamboo flooring, but unlike bamboo flooring, harvesting cork, if done correctly, has a minimal impact on the environment. To turn bamboo into bamboo flooring, it is necessary to cut down vast bamboo forest areas. Although the bamboo grows back quickly, the commercial pressures of the bamboo trade often mean pesticides and fertilizers are used to maximize bamboo harvests and often forests are clear cut to make way for new bamboo plantations. This is not the case at all in Europe and Northern Africa, where the main cork oak forests are located.
The cork oak forests spread over a wide area in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. They are ancient forests that have traditionally been the home to a wide diversity of animals and a source of income to local rural communities. Skilled workers peel the bark from the trees without damaging the tree and with minimal disturbance to nature. The tree lives between 150 and 250 years. After 25 years, a cork oak tree is ready to be harvested for its bark. And after that, the bark can be taken every nine years.
Cork is strong, durable and lightweight. It makes excellent flooring because of these properties. It is composed of a honeycomb structure that is largely filled with an air-like gas. This structure gives cork flooring its softness and elasticity. Thus the flooring can withstand heavy pressure applied to it, and when the weight or pressure is removed, it ‘springs back’ to its original shape. The honeycomb structure also makes cork an excellent natural insulator. Cork flooring will absorb heat in the winter and save you money on heating costs. Cork flooring is also a tremendous acoustic insulator. Unlike hardwood flooring that amplifies sound, cork flooring muffles sound making it suitable for people who don’t like their sleep disturbed by the sound of people walking around at night.
Cork contains a waxy substance called suberin that seals the flooring and makes it fire-retardant, mould and mildew resistant, and allergen-free. All these qualities make this flooring ideal for allergy and asthma sufferers.
It is cheap, environmentally friendly, strong, long-lasting, beautiful and suitable for those with allergies. That, in short, is why cork flooring is excellent.