Cork Flooring Pros and Cons

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Cork is known for its antimicrobial properties, naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and termites. It is environmentally beneficial, natural-renewable material harvested on the bark of cork oak trees.

Cork flooring is durable, versatile with natural aesthetic beauty. It provides comfortable walking and pleasant flooring, with natural heat insulation that doesn’t off-gas. Its limitations include not suitable for high traffic area, scratching, easily scuffs. Its also sensitive to light, prone to water and moisture damage, and also require a hefty investment.

Pros and Cons of Cork Flooring



  • Eco-friendly. 

  • Good natural heat insulator.

  • Easy to install and maintain.

  • Hypoallergenic.

  • Very durable.

  • Soft and comfortable.

  • Expensive.

  • Prone to water damage

  • Prone to ultra-violet rays fading

  • Prone to scratches and dents

  • Requires professional installation.

  •  Expand and contact due to temperature changes.

Advantages of cork flooring

Here are few merits of installing cork flooring on your house.

1. Eco-friendly

The flooring is durable and can handle misuse that tiles, vinyl, and wood flooring like dropping items on it. It tens to feel bouncy or item bounce back on dropping an item on it. The flooring is made from natural renewable material that contains minuscule tiny air pockets making is softest among wood flooring. If you have achy legs, cork flooring can be a good option for you.k tree back. In fact, its made from the material left after making bottle tops, glued together to form  a flooring material

The flooring is harvested from cork tree bark, its grounded, compressed, and baken in a kiln to make cork planks. It takes about 9 years to harvest the spongy bark from the tree again which makes it a renewable product. The damaged plank can also be recycled back to tiles.

2. Natural Heat Insulators

Cork is able to maintain and regulate temperatures, it can help you save on heating system if you a person like me who fear cold floor surfaces. It helps regulate both temperatures in winter and summer seasons.

The cork flooring also helps to act as a fire inhibitor and known to slow down combustibility a little bit for your house. NASA used it as a heat insulator for Mars Rover. The R-value for cork is a bit higher than the hardwood floor making it a good insulating material for your house.

3. Easy to Install and Maintain

Cork flooring requires a professional floor installer to minimize imperfections. When installed correctly with the addition of new layers of quality sealer to improve its Impermeability, it becomes extremely cheap and easy to care and maintain it.

Regular sweeping or dust mopping or vacuuming is enough to remove any dirt, dust, and grime particles. Damp mopping like any wood floor remains the best cleaning method to prevent cloudy haze, white of black water stains.

 It’s an easy to install floor compared with bamboo and another hardwood flooring. For the large area, you may choose to use a large sheet rather than plank or tiles which areas to install with adhesive, or smaller area tiles are easy and quickly installed with adhesives The floor can be sanded, stained or even sealed to reduce flooring imperfections.

4. Hypoallergenic

The cork floors are non-voc and do not off-gases like vinyl and laminate floors. It has antimicrobial properties that repel dist, dust mites, and other allergens that are a treat to asthma and allergy sufferers.

The suberin in cork flooring helps in preventing mildew, mold, and inhibit the growth of microorganisms that compromise the air quality and leady to allergic reactions for people with lung diseases respiratory allergies.

5. Soft and Comfortable to walk in

Cork has a spongy file and bounces back when you step on it. This makes it a good choice for areas you spend a lot of time like a kitchen bathroom and any other room you stand in for long.

Cork is a natural allergen resistant material creating a hypo-allergenic environment. In case you accidental fall on cork it will give a soft landing than any other hardwood or tile flooring. It’s a good option for elderly homeowners.

6. Durable

Cork has a bouncy surface, so indents and accidental items fall won’t cause permanent damage. It also resists cracking, abrasions, and impermeable to water spill, liquids and gases. With proper installation and proper care and maintenance, it can last for about 50 years or even more.

7. Acoustic Properties

Cork has tiny air particles that help in Sound dampening/ insulator. It not only acts as a good sound absorptive for your floor but may also be installed as wall paneling and interiors for improving room acoustics.

If you been frustrated with sound echo on your hose, cork flooring might be the solution you been looking for.  Cork floors are naturally soundproof, making it an excellent choice for rooms above a basement suite at your house.

8. Can Be Refinished

You don’t have to worry about haze on the floor or even black water stains on your cork flooring. Solid cork flooring can be sanded with fine-grit sandpaper and refinished with the desired stain.

This can help to remove stains and rejuvenate your flooring. However, you cannot sand composite and cork veneer, you may need to consider waxing and sealing the scratches to restore its natural beauty.

9. Mold, Mildew and Insect Resistant

Cork flooring has antimicrobial properties that help it resist insect damage. It’s still vulnerable to expansion and contraction in extreme weather conditions or moisture build-up, although its amicrobial characteristics help it resist mildew and mold growth.

10. Available in Variety of Colors and Grain Patterns

If you like the artistic look, cork comes with arrays of colors and grain patterns. If you looking for flooring to fit in your uniques design, cork provides limitless options for you. In addition, cork flooring can increase the value of your home.

Disadvantages of Cork Flooring

Here is a list of demerits of cork flooring:

1. Cork Flooring is Expensive

Cork plank or tile flooring costs between 4-12$ per square foot. The cost may vary depending on its thickness, quality, and finish type. The average cost fr many flooring is about 10$ plus installation cost of 1-2$ per square foot this cost a little bit higher than vinyl and laminate flooring, although slightly less than bamboo and hardwood flooring.

2. Not Waterproof Completely

Applying quality sealer improves cork flooring impermeability, however it still prone to moisture build-up or flooding damage. Cork floors can warp, curl and plump or even buckles due to water damage.

The finishing sealing process help to make you floor water resistant to give you time to wipe out a spill. Avoid installing it in a flooding basement.

3. Prone to Sunlight Damage and Fading

The flooring is sensitive to light, its color fades with a long time exposure. In addition, while it’s water-resistant, always wipe any accidental spills. Avoid wet mopping and soaking the cork floor with water it may damage and permanently leave white od black stains.

4. It has Limited Color Palette

When compared with vinyl, laminate, and carpet flooring, it has a limited variety to choose from. It’s available in the lighter and darker color palette to choose from.

Majorly, the main natural cork floor is beige in color, this may limit the color choices although staining with the right finish may give you the desired outcome.

5. Prone to Water and Moisture Damage

Cork is prone to pet nails, scratches and even water damage. You need to glue down the floor on the subfloor if installing on water pron areas. Otherwise, it will stain the floor which makes sit look uneven.

Cork tends to absorb stains than hardwood floors since it dries at different rates on the affected area. Hire a flooring professional to install the cork floor for you it’s not DIYs friendly.

Some extremely heavy furniture can also leave permanent divots on your flooring. Placing larges flat wooden pieces on the furniture legs can help to offset the weight damage. Since cork is very soft than any other flooring material, it also makes it prone to damage.

6. Scratches and Dents

Pet nails and installation in high traffic areas makes it vulnerable to scuff marks and scratching. Cork flooring like any wood floor is prone to dirt and high heels stains, marks, and scratches.

Pulling and pushing heavy objects may also scratch and dent your floor. However, heavy objects sitting on it might not be an issue, the dents and divots disappear once the objects have been moved away.

7. Sensitive to Temperature

Cork flooring is prone to expansion and contraction more than wood floor. The good news is it more stable and expands in all directions, unlike the traditional wood floor.

You might want to invest in temperature and humidity monitor for extreme climatic conditions. Acclimate your cork flooring before installation, it can help overcome these problems.

8. Tricky Installation

The installation of cor flooring is better done by a professional. As much as the cork flooring is durable and long-lasting,  poor installation may reduce its lifespan. You better prepare your subfloor properly. Cleaning should also be done right with the best cleaners and the right tools.

Can I install Cork in the Kitchen and Bathroom

Can I install Cork in the Kitchen and Bathroom

You can install the cork flooring on the bathroom and kitchen, however, it will require you to put a proper underlayment. In addition, you will have to do diligent maintenance occasionally when the need arises to keep the floor looking great.

Is Cork Flooring Sustainable?

Cork flooring is a renewable resource. It is made by removing the bark of  the Cork Oak tree (Quercus Suber). This is done  without harming the tree when harvested correctly.

The flooring has naturally anti-microbial and good heat insulator properties. When correctly harvested and being recyclable, it makes it a sustainable flooring resource.

Is Cork Flooring Good for High Traffic Areas?

Cork flooring is a durable flooring able to cater to the flooring need for high traffic areas. You won’t have to worry about kids, pets, or customers’ constant motion on your floor as well as a hassle-free maintenance schedule.

Cork flooring is a good choice for you if I need warm, attractive, comfortable, and sound absorptive floor with the informal appeal. However, if you are looking for a pristine completely waterproof floor that doesn’t wear and tear with time, the cork floor may not be the right flooring.

Is Cork Flooring Good for Kitchens and Bathrooms?

If you are comfort-conscious cooks and homeowners, cork offers a great floor for your kitchen and bathroom. It’s inherent softness and Spongy or springiness making standing for long periods much easier on backs, legs, and feet. Any accidental drop of your favorite soup tureen provides a chance of bouncing back rather than breaking up.

When installed in your bathroom it provides a soft and comfortable floor. It’s able to handle water as it inhibits the growth of mold and mildew. It is a high-style floor option available planks, tiles, or sheets with a variety of fashionable shades.

Sources and Reference

SFI: Sustainability forest standards.

Wikipedia: What is Sustainable Flooring?

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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