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Types of Cork Flooring

Posted: Monday, December 27, 2010
Cork Floor from APC Cork

Pop! That's the sound of a cork we love, but the sound cork doesn't make is another thing to love – when it's on your floor. Cork is a great choice for flooring because it is warm, absorbs sound, and has the beauty of more traditional floor coverings. It's also eco-friendly and uses bark from trees that regenerates in about nine years. They don't even cut down trees to make it — kind of like shearing sheep for wool. It's also durable and easy to maintain.

There are different types of cork flooring as well as different installations. Cork can come pre-finished or unfinished and as tiles or laminate. Tiles are solid cork typically about 3/16" thick. They are glued down, which is often a more expensive way to go because of the extra labor involved in the subfloor prep. Cork naturally resists water, so cork flooring tiles can even be used in bathrooms. (Try not to flood a cork tile floor, however, because water can seep down into the cracks and still cause some trouble.)

Laminate style cork, which is made by adhering a strip of compressed cork to a plank of fiberboard, can be installed as a floating floor via an interlocking method. The costs for that are similar to that of hardwood. The subfloor for any flooring installation must be even, dry, and free of debris, but the cork floating floor can be installed over existing laminate, vinyl, or ceramic floors.

Laminate cork flooring is not suggested for bathrooms because of its fiberboard component. And while, as its name suggests, pre-finished cork is ready to be walked on as soon as it's installed, unfinished cork must be sanded and a finish applied, pretty much like you would a raw hardwood.

Cork comes in myriad patterns, styles, colors, and shapes. Its texture is unique as well as its natural patterns. But you can also select from an array of colors from bright white to black. Some manufacturers even offer custom coloring. Cork can be in plank form that resembles hardwood flooring and tiles or even a collection of bottle stopper-style cork cut into discs and adhered to a mesh backing that can be installed in sheets and grouted. So whichever way you go, cork can be your flooring answer.