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The Best Cork Flooring Options & 11 Reasons They’re Awesome

February 25, 2020

You’ve heard a lot about the pros and cons of cork flooring, but how do you know if it’s right for you?

We know—there are endless types of flooring to choose from. And even if you do decide on cork, most of the best cork flooring options come in different sizes, shapes, and finishes.

Not sure what you want? Don’t worry—we’re here to help. Let’s learn some more about the best cork flooring options and how you can transform your home with this beautiful, warm, environmentally-friendly material.

What makes the best cork flooring so awesome?

Best Cork Flooring Bathroom Cork Cleaned New House

We thought you’d never ask! Let’s run through some of cork’s biggest advantages; once we’ve got the basics down, we’ll go into more detail below.

1. Cork offers tons of choices

Whether you’re looking for a solid floor, an engineered floor, or a totally natural floor, cork has you covered. 

2. Cork is naturally insulating

Cork floors naturally hold in heat, so you get warmer floors and warmer feet (the rhyme was unintentional, we swear).

3. And it’s naturally hypoallergenic 

Unlike carpet (cork’s closest competitor in terms of warmth), cork doesn’t absorb dust and is totally hypoallergenic. If you seal your cork floors properly, they’re going to be naturally resistant against dust mites, microbes, mold, and mildew.

4. Cork is ergonomic (and easy on the joints)

Cork’s natural composition makes it flex and bounce just enough to reduce stress on your back and feet. It’s not a soft floor per se—it’s just super, super comfy.

5. It can be refinished 

Thick cork floors without a laminate finish can be sanded and refinished if they need a refresh. You can also pull up and replace individual tiles or planks if needed (although this depends on the specific product you buy). 

6. It’s super versatile 

Cork floors come in tons of different finishes. You can find ones that resemble hardwood, tile, or even stone. And it comes in tons of colors, too! 

7. Cork is naturally sound-dampening

If you’re looking for a surface that won’t amplify sound, cork’s probably your best choice. Cork is naturally sound-absorbent, and it’ll keep your house calm and quiet—even if your kids have recently taken up tapdancing. 

8. Cork is eco-friendly

Thanks to cork’s environmentally-friendly production methods, it’s known as one of the greenest and most sustainable flooring options around.

9. Cork can be very easy to install

Cork flooring comes in a variety of mediums, from click-lock planks to full sheets. Depending on the product you choose, putting in a cork floor can be a relatively easy project. 

10. It’s surprisingly durable

Despite what you might think (we know, wine bottle corks don’t give a great impression when it comes to durability), cork can be an extremely durable floor. Really!

11. And it’s competitively priced

Again, it depends on the specific product you choose—but cork can be just as competitively priced as many other types of floors.

Types of cork flooring: the basics 

Generally speaking, cork flooring comes in three different mediums: cork tiles, cork planks, and cork sheeting. Each one can be installed in a variety of different ways, and like most wood flooring types, they can also be constructed as either solid or engineered products. 

Installing different types of cork flooring

Cork tiles

Cork tiles often have to be glued to a subfloor. If you decide to go with a conventional glue-down product, take our advice and find a flooring professional in your area to do the job—it can get messy and stressful really quickly. Plus, you have to make sure your subfloor is on the up-and-up before you begin. 

Fortunately, lots of manufacturers are now offering peel-and-stick cork tiles for the DIY crowd. These come in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors, and you install them the same way you install peel-and-stick carpet tiles from Home Depot—just clean, peel, and press! 

Click-together cork planks

Best Cork Flooring Man Holding Cork Plank

When you think of click-together flooring, you probably don’t think of cork—but like many of today’s best vinyl flooring options, cork flooring now comes in snap-lock planks. 

If you’re not familiar with these, they’re relatively easy to install—just use the special interlocking grooves to tap them into place. No need to nail or glue them down! Plus, as a “floating floor”, they can be installed over existing surfaces, which is super convenient.

Cork sheets

You can also purchase cork flooring in sheets or rolls. These are most frequently used for commercial applications or as an underlayment, but they can make an amazing surface as well.

Cork flooring price comparison

The exact cost of cork flooring depends on a number of factors, including construction (solid vs. engineered), color, finish, manufacturer, and just about a million other things. That being said, you can expect a cork floor to cost between $3–$12 per square foot.

The best cork floors are surprisingly durable

While cork isn’t usually thought of as the most durable flooring option in the world, it’ll surprise you. With basic care and maintenance, it can last for generations.

Cork can stand up to heavy traffic

You might be surprised to hear that cork floors can handle heavy traffic extremely well. The relative softness of cork floors is actually an advantage when it comes to taking abuse—its “elastic memory” helps it keep its shape, resist dents and gouges, and repair minor damage.

Cork floors have been installed in places that receive extremely heavy traffic, including IKEA. All we know is this: if it can handle thousands of IKEA shoppers, it can handle your pets and kids.

Cork floors can be sanded and refinished

Accidents do happen, but don’t despair! Many types of cork floors (specifically those over 4mm thick without a laminate finish) can be sanded down and refinished. If you have a click-together product, though, you can just take out any damaged planks and replace them.

Cork floors can be water-resistant

Cork floors are naturally water-resistant, and sealers can be added to make them even closer to competing with traditional waterproof flooring options. Your cork floor should hold up just fine as long as you don’t abuse it, let it get saturated, or install it somewhere excessively damp. 

Cork is easy to maintain (and can last decades)

If you have concerns about maintaining your new floors, relax! Cork flooring is easy to maintain and clean. It’s impervious to dust, and with periodic sweeping, dry-mopping, and sealing, it can last for ages.

The best cork flooring advantage: it’s sustainable

Want to do your part to save the planet? Start with sustainable flooring! 

Cork trees are sustainably harvested

Best Cork Flooring Cork Tree

Unlike similar flooring products, cork floors don’t come from wood at all—they come from bark. It takes a cork tree 20–25 years of growth to be ready for its first harvest, but after that, its bark can be repeatedly harvested every 9 years or so for up to 250 years

But wait! It gets better.

Harvested sheets of cork bark are first used to make wine corks. Then, the leftover material is processed to make other products like bulletin boards, Birkenstocks, and… you guessed it… cork flooring! In this way, every bit of the harvested cork gets used. It doesn’t get much greener than that.

Plus, cork is biodegradable

If you’re concerned about long-term environmental impacts, you’ll be glad to hear that cork is also biodegradable. Our children and grandchildren will have plenty of leftover non-biodegradable waste products to deal with—but cork won’t be one of them

Conclusion

If you’re ready to install new floors in your home and you’re looking for something durable, eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, sound-dampening, warm, and affordable, think about cork! After all, the best cork flooring advantage is it offers endless advantages. 

Whenever you’re ready to get started, find a flooring retailer in your area—they can help you with all the specifics. And for more information to help you find your perfect floor, check out: 

About The Author

Dr. Sara Austin

Best known for being “not that kind of doctor” and never knowing which fork to use, Sara is a learning designer and writer, former real estate agent, and builder with a penchant for home design and remodeling.

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