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Product Review: Wicanders Cork Flooring

Posted: Wednesday, March 02, 2011

We've all popped the cork on our share of champagne bottles over the years, but did you know that cork has also been used for flooring at least as long as it's been used to stop up our bottles? Did you ever wonder where cork comes from?

Cork's almost miraculous nature, on several levels, makes the perfect versatile, durable, and sustainable product on the market for flooring. And Wicanders is one of the premier suppliers of cork flooring, so definitely consider their cork for your next new floor.

Environmentally sustainable is the new buzzword in just about every industry from fishing to flooring. When you can find a product you love, all the better when it is also a product that regenerates so well and so quickly that the environment is basically unaffected. That's what we have with cork.

Portugal is the leading exporter of cork, followed by Spain and other countries close to the Mediterranean. The cork oak, as it is called, has amazing bark. The bark of the tree, not the tree itself, is what provides the world with cork.

The trees, when they reach maturity, have their cork "harvested," which is a rather delicate process that generations of cork workers have perfected to a science. Then every nine years or so, the bark is removed again.

Surprisingly, this is not damaging to the tree whatsoever; actually the quality of the cork increases with each harvest. This is sustainability at its finest. Not only that, but every part and parcel of the bark is used, other than the very tough outer layer. After the production of wine stoppers, the "left over" cork (what remains in the bars of cork left after the round pieces are cut out) is reprocessed and used to make numerous products, including flooring tiles and planks.

The reasons that cork is such a superb material for flooring products are many. For one thing, cork is exceptionally resilient and durable. The cellular structure that makes up the cork fibers resembles a honey-comb whose walls are very flexible, and the pockets within the cells are filled with a gaseous substance, the combination of which makes for an incredibly resilient product that is naturally airtight and water –resistant.

These factors and others make cork anti-microbial, rot-resistant, and allergenic. And though cork might not rank at the top of the class in density and hardness testing, it's still a brilliant choice for flooring because it "bounces back," making it a product that will take punishment and come back for more.

Check out Wicanders' products on FastFloors.com, and there's sure to be a cork product that will fill the bill for your next flooring project.