The term cork is used to describe the outer bark of the cork oak tree. This evergreen tree can grow up to 20 meters tall, with leaves reaching between 4 and 7 centimetres. Over the course of its lifetime, which on average lasts 200 years, a cork oak tree may be stripped of its bark 17 times.
Cork is a much softer alternative than solid wood. Cork has been around for decades, but has recently had a resurgence in popularity because it is an environmentally sustainable resource. Cork is biodegradable, meaning it will break down into the environment at the end of its life cycle.
Cork’s softness and elasticity means that it is a unique material and as such it has many uses. Traditionally, cork has been used as a bottle stopper, particularly for wine.
Lessor known uses for cork include gaskets, balls and shuttlecocks, noticeboards, buoys and floats, musical instruments, and even space craft.
Cork is fire retardant, making it a popular choice for insulation, walls, ceilings, facades, and floors of homes and commercial buildings.
Cork in Flooring
Cork flooring is made by mixing ground cork with resin binders. This material is then compressed and cut into large sheets. There are often 4 layers in the makeup of cork flooring – working from the bottom up it begins with a compressed cork underlay, high density fibreboard, natural cork veneer and finished off with multiple coats of a protective lacquer.
Cork’s unique structure is composed of millions upon millions of air-filled cells which provide insulation against the heat and cold, meaning that cork flooring will keep your feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Because of its acoustic insulating properties, cork flooring absorbs sound. Making it a practical and comfortable addition to your home.
An often unexpected feature of cork flooring is that it is available in a variety of colours. From light cream to dark brown and even grey, there is sure to be a colour that suits your home or commercial space.
While there are a number of reasons to use cork inside the home, it can be used outdoors too! It can be used under decking and pergola surfaces. Being naturally noise-absorbent, cork will ensure that footsteps from outside cannot be heard inside. It’s also a great way to continue the aesthetic from the inside out.
Cleaning a cork floor is simple. Sweeping, mopping or vacuuming should be enough for everyday cleaning. If a deeper clean is required, ensure you use products specifically designed for cork flooring. As with any flooring, pet claws can cause scratches or small holes, so ensure your fur-babies nails are trimmed to prevent any damage.
Cork floors are resilient, and any indentations that may accidentally occur will eventually spring back and disappear from the floor. However, it is best to keep extremely heavy items off of the cork, as a sustained amount of heavy weight over a period of time could permanently damage the surface.
The average expected lifespan of cork flooring is between 25 and 30 years, but it can last longer if taken care of correctly. It resists cracks, abrasions and is naturally resistant to mould, mildew and termites, as well as being anti-microbial. It is also both fire-resistant and moisture-resistant (due to a waxy substance found in cork called ‘suberin’.)
At Back To Timber, we offer a range of cork flooring options. Check them out below.
If you have questions about these products or any other flooring products, please contact our friendly team. We’d love to hear from you!