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The Cork Flooring Guide
Cork flooring comes from the cork oak tree (quercus suber) that is found in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and France. It is estimated that cork oak forests cover 25,000 hectares in these countries. Cork is a renewable resource and an environmentally friendly product that is especially suited to modern flooring needs.
The unique thing about cork is that it is made from the bark of the cork oak tree. The bark can be peeled off the cork oak every nine years without damaging the tree. Thus unlike other renewable resources like bamboo the tree or plant is not killed in the harvesting process.
Cork flooring is easy to install and competitively priced. Cork flooring is different to hardwood flooring and bamboo flooring in being soft to the touch. This softness makes cork flooring very comfortable to walk on and sit on. And yet cork flooring is not weak - it can stand up to high traffic situations and can deal with heavy furniture. The strength of cork lies in its honeycomb structure which is 85% air. This honeycomb structure gives cork flooring an 'elastic' property that allows it to 'spring back' after it has been compressed. This elastic property also makes cork flooring a great heat and sound insulator. Not only does cork flooring feel warm underfoot but it also stores warmth thus helping to reduce winter heating bills. The sound insulating properties make cork flooring ideal for upstairs rooms because it muffles out the sound of people walking around.
Cork flooring is also very durable. It can last with minimum maintenance for several generations, just like hardwood flooring. This long lasting quality is another strong selling point of cork flooring.
Another amazing aspect of cork is that it naturally contains a chemical called suberin that makes any products made of cork mold and fire resistant as well as allergen free. This makes cork flooring ideal for people with allergies, asthma and other chemical sensitivities. If a VOC free adhesive is used in installation then cork flooring is a completely safe flooring material that fulfills LEED guidelines for indoor air quality.
Finally, cork flooring is now available in a wide variety of colors and styles. As well as the traditional mottled pattern, cork is available in various plain colors without a pattern. Thus, cork flooring can be made to fit into any style of interior decor.