Cork Flooring Pros And Cons [Comprehensive Guide]

Are you looking for cork flooring pros and cons? You’ve landed on the right page.

Cork flooring is a popular alternative to hardwood and laminate flooring. It is considered an eco-friendly product because it is made from the bark of cork trees, which prolongs the life of the tree.

While cork floors might be more expensive than other types of flooring, such as laminates and carpets, there are other benefits that should be considered.

Cork flooring is a long-lasting and adaptable material with a natural aesthetic appeal. It has natural heat insulation, making it ideal for walking.

Its drawbacks include the potential for scratches, ease of scratches, and sensitivity to light. It’s also vulnerable to water damage, prone to cracking due to dampness and humidity, as well as costly.

In this article, we will explore the cork flooring pros and cons in various rooms of your home.

Cork Flooring Pros (Advantages)

Each room in a house has its own set of advantages and disadvantages for cork flooring. To begin, let’s take a look at some of the pros of having cork floors in your home.

Eco-Friendly

As mentioned before, cork flooring is made from the bark of cork trees. The bark regrows if harvested correctly, which means it’s an environmentally friendly product.

Cork flooring is considered sustainable because it lasts longer than other types of natural materials such as hardwood and bamboo floors.

Furthermore, some cork flooring is made from the leftover bark of the cork tree. A cork tree is the only known species of tree capable of getting harvested without killing them.

The process involves coring the bark by inserting a small blade around the trunk. By allowing the tree to get cut at regular intervals, it can get harvested for up to 200 years.

Considered eco-friendly, however, harvesting methods are still too destructive for cork trees. Cork plantations are mainly located in southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia.

Keep Reading: Hazy Hardwood Flooring Solution

Soft & Comfortable To Walk

Since cork flooring is a soft and flexible material, it creates a cushion-like effect when walked on. It provides better shock absorption than most types of hardwood or laminate floors.

Cork floors are suitable for people that spend most of the day standing up because they can reduce foot fatigue. Another advantage of cork floors is that it reduces noise levels when walking on them.

It’s a quiet flooring option that doesn’t produce any distracting creaking or squeaking sounds when walked on. Cork floors are also perfect for children and pets because it’s a soft surface, free from toxic chemicals, and safe enough to be chewed by animals without causing harm.

Because this is light, it’s a wonderful choice for areas where you spend a lot of time, such as the kitchen bathroom and any other room you stand in for lengthy periods. There won’t be any pain after-effects from standing on those hard floors for a long time with cork flooring.

Easy Installation & Maintainance

Cleaning and maintaining cork floors are very straightforward. You can sweep or vacuum them regularly to ensure a clean environment and prevent dirt from building up.

Cork floors with a smooth finish will need occasional mopping. On the other hand, cork flooring materials can be cleaned with water for cleaning purposes without causing damage.

As it’s a natural product, it’s also safe to use chemical cleaners for cork floors. It won’t cause any damage or toxic inhalation like laminate or engineered flooring.

On the contrary, it’s suitable to use natural soaps and detergents to keep cork flooring looking good without causing any harm.

Cork flooring is naturally water-resistant. This feature makes it easy to clean spills because you can wipe them with a damp cloth without having them absorbed by the material.

The only downside of this advantage is that cork flooring isn’t suitable for installation below ground level.

Keep Reading: Tips On Shining Laminate Floors

Hypoallergenic & Non-Toxic

As a natural and eco-friendly product, cork flooring is also hypoallergenic. It doesn’t emit any toxic gases while installing it and won’t release any harmful particles over time.

As mentioned before, cork floors are safe to use with chemical cleaners without causing damage or harm to your respiratory system.

Cork flooring is also non-toxic because it doesn’t make use of any chemicals such as varnish, paint, or sealant during installation.

It not only prevents toxins from contaminating your home’s environment but also makes sure cork floors won’t release toxic gases when exposed to fire.

On the other hand, cork flooring is a natural product and can’t be compared with laminate flooring or vinyl floor coverings.

For instance, it needs a porous foundation instead of being installed directly on concrete surfaces. If cork floors are installed on inappropriate platforms, they may need re-installation after a few years due to wear and tear.

It’s excellent for preventing and treating asthma and allergy symptoms because it has antimicrobial qualities that repel dust mites, as well as other allergens that are difficult to breathe in.

Keep Reading: Remedy To Get Rid Of Hardwood Black Water Stains

Natural Heat Insulators

Cork is a naturally insulating material. It has much better insulating qualities than most types of flooring, such as laminates, vinyl, and engineered woods.

Cork floors help insulate the temperature in homes, which prevents energy loss during cold seasons and cools down hot rooms.

This natural heat insulation also gives cork floors the ability to cool down a room during the hot seasons. Cork floors are also a good choice for bathrooms, kitchens, and anywhere else in your home that gets humid or damp because of their ability to regulate humidity levels.

Since it can absorb moisture from steamy environments, it helps maintain an optimal level of dryness in homes by regulating both humidity and temperature.

As an added bonus, cork floors are considered very quiet. They won’t make any distracting noise when walking on it. It also helps to act as a fire inhibitor by preventing flames from spreading.

Durable

Cork flooring is a durable type of flooring that can last for decades if installed and maintained properly. Cork floors with an unfinished surface will need proper sealing to ensure there’s no water seepage in the future.

Without proper sealing, cork floors aren’t suitable for installation below ground level and only last a few years. But when cork flooring is finished and properly installed, it can last for decades without showing significant signs of wear and tear.

This makes it a perfect choice for commercial establishments such as restaurants and other high-traffic establishments because it won’t need replacement if maintained properly after a few years like most other types of flooring materials.

On the contrary, cork floors should only be installed by a professional service provider because it’s a complicated process that needs to be done properly.

Arranging a long-lasting cork floor installation is quite expensive and time-consuming, which may not be suitable for homeowners because they tend to have other priorities. It’s possible to survive for 50 years or more if installed correctly and properly cared for.

Acoustic Features

Cork floors are very good at blocking noise, which makes them a suitable choice for homeowners that require complete silence in their homes.

It’s an excellent insulation material because cork flooring can absorb sound waves and prevent them from penetrating through to the other side.

This is also why cork floors are often installed in top-of-the-line recording studios because it creates an environment that’s perfect for producing the best quality sound.

Cork flooring is also great at insulating heat, so your rooms will stay cool during warm summer days instead of getting hot.

Porous cork floors are good at keeping dust away from the air you breathe in, with their high-density nature of trapping all sorts of allergens and dirt particles.

Variety Of Colors & Grain Patterns

Cork flooring comes in a variety of color and grain patterns, just like other types of flooring such as hardwood, bamboo, and laminate.

Cork is harvested from tree bark which makes it available in the same rich wood colors that you would see on natural trees.

It’s also possible to get cork floors with unique grains and patterns because this material is used as the top layer of quality hardwood flooring.

Cork floors with grain patterns and designs that resemble other types of wood, such as oak and walnut, are becoming more popular in modern homes.

Real wooden cork floors may cost a bit more than synthetic cork floors, but they’re definitely worth the price. This is because real cork flooring can be more beautiful, diverse, and unique compared to the latter.

Synthetic floors are designed to mimic the look of cork, but they’re not as appealing due to poor replication. Cork is also a good alternative for homeowners who want wooden floors but don’t have the budget to purchase real hardwood.

Can Be Refinished Multiple Times

Cork flooring can be refinished many times, making this a suitable choice for homeowners that want to save money by refinishing floors themselves.

For the best results, it’s recommended to hire professional cork floor refinishers because they know how to do it properly and avoid causing damage to your floors.

If you have a cork floor with a hardwood base, refinishing it yourself is also possible if you have the right tools. But this should only be done by experienced homeowners who are familiar with how to reface floors because cork floors are not as sturdy as hardwood or bamboo floors.

Cork flooring should be refinished as per the usage and requirement. High-quality cork floors can be refinished up to 5 times, which is when the floor starts looking dull and faded.

This depends on how much foot traffic the floor gets and what sorts of abrasive chemicals it comes into contact with during cleaning.

Homes with children and pets should have their cork floors refinished frequently. There’s a high chance that these homes will experience more damage because they are often more careless when it comes to humidity control, which is why it may be necessary to refinish your floors sooner.

Mold, Mildew & Insect Resistant

Cork flooring is highly resistant to molds, mildew, and insects because it has a sealed-off cellular structure. It can dry out quickly after getting wet, which makes this material suitable for humid rooms such as bathrooms, kitchens, and other places where water gets spilled on the floor.

This also makes cork floors an excellent choice for homes located in damp and moist areas, especially if they’re already pre-treated with a cork flooring primer sealant during installation.

Cork floors are water-resistant, which is why they can be used as a material for outdoor decks. However, the waterproof nature of cork floors also makes them more susceptible to scuff marks than other types of flooring because they can be scratched more easily.

Cork floors are not the best choice for your household unless they’re sealed with a protective coating that has UV resistance.

In the extreme weather conditions of winter, moisture tends to get trapped beneath cork floors which makes it a good place for mold and mildew bacteria growth.

This is why it’s recommended that homeowners should provide ventilation for their cork floors during the cold months of the year by opening up windows and doors in the room where your flooring is installed.

Keep Reading: Do Check Cons Of Epoxy Flooring

Cork Flooring Cons (Disadvantages)

There are various disadvantages that you need to consider when it comes to cork flooring. Some of these things may sway your decision in favor of a different type, so let’s take a look at the drawbacks of this material.

Expensive

Cork flooring can be more expensive compared to other types of flooring like vinyl, laminate, bamboo, and engineered hardwood.

This is because it’s usually handcrafted by artisans or cottage manufacturers, which makes it more labor-intensive than the materials mentioned above that are mass-produced by machines.

However, high-quality cork floors are more versatile and long-lasting, so it balances out the additional cost. While you can get a decent vinyl floor for less than $4 per square foot, good cork floors start from around $5-12 per square foot.

This is why some homeowners who want an alternative to solid hardwood may find cork flooring too expensive for their budget.

However, real cork flooring is worth the price because it looks great, feels warm to the touch, has a durable wear layer, and brings out the beauty of your home.

Foam cork floors are also more affordable compared to other types of cork floors which makes this material a good choice for renters who want an easy-to-install replacement for carpeting.

Keep Reading: Effective Ways To Shine Your Laminate Flooring

Limited Color Palette

Cork flooring is available in a limited number of colors which means homeowners have very few options when designing their home.

Some manufacturers only offer cork floors in dark brown, but some eco-friendly brands are now offering black or gray variants that are made with recycled or sustainable materials.

These types of cork flooring are more expensive, but they’re also made with eco-friendly manufacturing processes that are friendly to the environment.

There are still other companies that offer simple brown, gray, or white variants, so it’s important to check the label before making a purchase.

The biggest drawback of having limited color options is that your cork flooring might not match the décor or theme of your home.

For example, if you have a modern themed living room, then it’s best to install an eco-friendly cork floor with black accents because this type of material complements most types of furniture and decor.

Not Entirely Waterproof

Cork flooring has a thin protective sealant that likely contains some form of wax. However, it’s not completely waterproof and shouldn’t be treated as such.

If your cork floors get wet from exposure to water, then there’s a chance that the material will expand and curl up, which can result in buckling.

This is why it’s important for homeowners to reseal their cork floors every few months or so because it ensures that the protective coating remains intact and won’t peel off due to exposure to excessive moisture.

We prefer to use Tru-Seal on all of our cork floors because it helps add flexibility, penetration, and protection from spills. This means that it also makes it easy to clean our cork floors with mild cleansers and scrub brushes.

If you own real cork flooring, then you should consider resealing the material every few months because it keeps the protective coating intact.

However, if you have synthetic flooring, then there’s no need to worry because this type of material doesn’t expand or curl up due to exposure to water.

Keep Reading: Eliminate Water Under Vinyl Flooring

Prone To Sunlight Damage & Fading

Most types of wood flooring contain some amount of natural oil and wax. This helps protect the material from direct exposure to sunlight because it prevents UV rays from penetrating deep into the material and fading/discoloring the color or grain pattern.

However, cork flooring does not have this protective layer, so it’s very susceptible to damage from sunlight. This is why it’s important to install cork flooring in shaded or dimly lit areas if you plan on installing this material in your home.

However, there are different types of cork flooring, so homeowners need to read the label carefully before making a purchase.

Some manufacturers even produce environmentally-friendly cork floors that don’t contain any form of varnish or sealant.

These types of cork flooring are not as susceptible to damage from sunlight because they’re made with a UV-resistant material that prevents the color from fading due to exposure to direct sunlight.

However, this type of cork floor is more expensive compared to other types that require a coating or varnish.

Prone To Water & Moisture Damage

Cork flooring isn’t waterproof, and it’s prone to damage from moisture and liquids. If you spill a drink or any other form of liquid on the floor, then make sure you clean it up right away because it might cause discoloration, warping, or buckling if left unattended for days or weeks.

However, you can get special cork flooring that’s resistant to water and moisture damage. These types are slightly more expensive, but they’re perfect for homes with pets or kids because you don’t need to worry about stains or scratches too.

Keep Reading: Read This To Get Rid Of Hardwood Floor Warping

Tricky Installation

Cork flooring is very difficult to install because it requires a lot of technical expertise and the right equipment, such as adhesives and tools that can strip or level surfaces.

Also, you might need some additional protective measures to prevent warping and other damage. If you don’t have any experience with installing cork flooring, then you should hire a professional because it will cost you less in the long run than making mistakes during the installation process.

But, if you do have experience, then you should be careful with your work because a single mistake can result in irreparable damage to your material, and this will likely waste your money.

Scratches & Dents Are Visible

Cork is a soft material which means it’s easy to damage or scratch the surface. If you have pets, then this problem is compounded because your pet paws can easily cause scratches, dents, or scuff marks on the surface of your cork flooring.

It’s important to consider this factor before installing any type of cork flooring because it’s best to avoid areas where pets are allowed if you want to protect the material.

There are some types of cork flooring that have protective coatings or varnishes, but these variants are more expensive so most homeowners choose simpler options with limited protective layers or chemicals.

However, there are some producers that offer scratch-resistant cork flooring that doesn’t require a protective coating.

Keep Reading: Guide On Bleaching Hardwood Floor Stains

Temperature Sensitive

Cork is a highly sensitive material that’s also very fragile. This means it can easily warp or bend when exposed to extreme temperature changes, so you should avoid installing any type of cork flooring if your home has a poorly insulated roof, walls, or windows.

The biggest drawback of having cork flooring in your home is the tendency to warp or bend when exposed to large temperature changes. For example, your cork flooring might buckle if your heater is turned on then turned off again within a short span of time.

However, there are different types of cork flooring with different levels of sensitivity, so you should consult the label before making a purchase. Also, it’s best to avoid installing cork flooring in any part of your home where there are large temperature changes.

There are also some types of cork flooring that have adjustable elements, so you don’t need to worry about warping or buckling when exposing the material to different degrees of heat or cold.

Extreme climatic conditions, such as high altitudes and extreme heat or cold, may require temperature and humidity monitoring.

Final Verdict

Cork flooring is a popular choice for many homeowners because it has a lot of benefits. However, there are also some drawbacks to consider before deciding if this type of flooring is the right fit for your home.

In this article, we’ve explored the cork flooring pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s the right choice for your needs. Thanks for reading!

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Shelley Stevenson

Shelly Stevenson is the full-time editor responsible for painting, flooring, bathrooms & home climate coverage at StyDomIo. She is a home improvement expert with an eye for design and the skills to get the work done. She knows what turns a house into a home and has the advice and ideas to make upgrades easy and fun.

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