Cork is beautiful and incredibly sustainable floor covering option. Made from the outer bark of the cork oak tree, cork is carefully harvested once every 9 years, allowing new bark to grow in its place and without ever damaging or killing the trees. It’s not unusual to have a 200 year-old tree still producing cork bark.
Cork organically repels dust, germs and mold. It’s maintained without any harsh chemicals or cleaners, is warm and soft underfoot, a sound and thermal insulator, easy to install and durable choice. Cork has been popular for use in public buildings such as court houses, churches, banks and libraries. Cork has been installed in the Library of Congress since the 60s, the Mayo Clinic since the 1930s, and today in IKEA stores which receive millions of visitors.
Although it’s possible to make a dent in cork with a heavy object or high-heeled shoes, the cork will probably recover to near its original shape quickly. Cork has a unique structure that is filled with an air-like gas. The cork cell membranes are very flexible allowing cork to be both compressible and elastic. When cork is subjected to pressure or heavy weights, the air in the cells is compressed think of a cork stopper is pressed into a bottle opening. Once the pressure is released (or in the example, the cork is removed from the bottle), cork returns to within 80-95% its original shape over a short period of time.
If you have large dogs at home or dogs that love to race through the house, then you know they have the ability to scratch or damage almost any surface – resilient, wood, carpet and even some tiles. Just walking on a cork floor by a heavy dog will not cause damage. Do to the nature of cork (anti-slip) animals do not have to use their claws to move around, this saves your floors from most type of animal claw marks. Large dogs (75 lbs+) with poor kept nails will damage the majority of finishes including cork. Medium sized dogs that are extremely active or small dogs that like to dig are will likely do more damage to a cork floor.
Similar to some hardwood floors cork floors also patina as it ages. Additionally like many other floor coverings cork will fade from UV rays.
Care and maintenance
- Furniture coasters should be placed on large pieces of furniture (beds, sofas, arm chairs, dining room tables, etc).
- Use felt pads on furniture pieces such as dining room chairs or office chairs.
- Items that roll should be fitted with the large castors that look like soup cans.
- Maintain relative humidity between 35-50%
- Sweep or vacuum floors frequently in order to avoid build up of abrasive particles.
- Use only cleaners specified for use on pre-finished wood floors. Stay away from harsh abrasive cleaners and NEVER wet mop a cork floor.
- When the floor surface starts to show a traffic pattern and signs of wear it is time to renew the finish.
- Use walk-off mats at entrance doors. Avoid rubber backed or other non-ventilated mats or rugs.
The softness of cork allows items, especially heavy items to “sink in”. This is natural. The weight of a chair or sofa will cause the item to sink into the floor. If it is for a short amount of time, that’s fine. The cork will recover from this denting and act as if nothing happened.