Eco-Friendly Cork Flooring

Jim Williams
Posted in:
Buying Guides

More than ever, homeowners are looking for flooring materials that not only look great, but are also earth-friendly. Cork flooring is no exception. In addition to its variety of color and design options, its durability, sound and shock absorbtion cork flooring is as eco-friendly as it comes.

Although cork flooring has been flying off the shelves for the past decade, its actually been used for residential and commercial spaces for more than a century, Houzz notes. “Back in the early days, cork appeared mostly in commercial and public spaces, although residential use increased after Frank Lloyd Wright chose it for many of the homes he designed.”

But why so popular? Not only are buyers drawn to cork for its natural variations in depth, tone, and texture, but more and more consumers are seeing the importance of caring for the environment through earth-conscious purchases.

Why It's Sustainable

Cork is harvested from the cork oak tree, which is found in primarily southern Europe and northern Africa. Mother Earth News notes, “The trees live for 200 years or so, and the forests, called Montados, are highly prized and passed down through generations of families in the cork-producing business.”

Unlike other hardwoods, cork is only harvested from the oak tree’s bark, and is sourced once every nine years. Cork flooring processing is simple: the cork is stripped into small pieces, cured, boiled and pressed. Scraps are collected for reuse, so almost nothing is wasted, notes Mother Earth News.

Many hardwood trees are harvested by cutting down the entire tree, and takes up to 40 years for a tree to reach full maturity. Though hardwood floors are a beautiful option, they clearly do more of a number on the environment than cork flooring. On the other hand, the process of stripping bark off of a tree does no damage to the ecosystem. In fact, environmentalists note that stripping the bark actually improves the health of the tree.

And if that wasn’t enough, cork harvesting is highly regulated so consumers should have no doubts of the sustainable practices surrounding their floor purchase. If you ever choose to replace your cork flooring, also know that cork is recyclable and biodegradable.

Installing cork flooring not only invests in a durable floor that will look great in your home for years, it also invests in an eco-conscious material that does more good than harm.