Ok, picture cork. What do you see? I would imagine a nice bottle of Merlot just floated through your mind (relax, 5:00 p.m. will be here soon…). But bottle stoppers are just one simple use of cork. It has a thousand and one uses, and it's a fabulous choice for flooring. We're proud to offer cork flooring from WE Cork from Exeter, New Hamphire.
First, a little about where cork comes from. Cork is the bark from an evergreen oak tree found in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Portugal is the largest producer, followed by Spain. These trees are almost miraculous in their ability to regenerate their bark.
When a tree is about 20 years old, its "virgin" harvest is made, and then that same tree can be re-harvested every nine years, which entails stripping about two-thirds of its bark each time, until it's about 150 years old. A new tree is planted when one reaches its final year and hopefully thanked for its long years of service. Eco-responsibility is something companies are increasingly being encouraged to keep at the forefront of their business models, and luckily the cork industry is by nature environmentally sustainable and has been for centuries.
Cork flooring can come in the form of tiles, planks, or floating panels. Tiles are formed from a mixture of granulated cork and a binder that is compressed at high pressures and "baked" and then cut into squares or planks. Tiles can have various colors and finishes, including glossy wax and slip-resistant wax finishes.
They can also be refinished to bring back their original look at any time. Floating panels are slightly different in that they are installed via a tongue and groove system, unlike tiles that are glued down, and consist of a cork backing, processed similarly to the tiles, and then a thin cork veneer is applied to provide several patterns and styles to choose from. WE Cork also has a product called WECU underlayment. It's processed similarly to the tiles but has an added compound that makes it impenetrable to moisture. It can be used under hardwood or ceramic tile floors for sound control and to protect against cracking.
The benefits of going with cork are as numerous as its uses. First are its durability and resiliency; cork can take a pounding and be unaffected. Because of these qualities, it is great for high traffic or high impact areas (such as gymnasiums). Another is its sound and shock absorbing qualities, which makes cork an excellent choice for libraries, schools, and hospitals. Another plug for cork (get it? A "plug" for cork. Ah, never mind.) is that it insulates a floor against excess cold or heat, which can save on your home or office's utility costs. It's also beautiful and, don't forget, environmentally solid. So the next time somebody says, "Put a cork in it," you can tell him all the ways you can, and why.