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May 26, 2020
Looking at the cork flooring Lowes sells and wondering if it’s actually worth buying? You’re not alone. Box stores like Lowes and Home Depot sell just about all the types of flooring there are, but it’s hard to know whether or not they’re worth buying. And that goes double when it comes to a less-common material like cork.
Look at it this way. Shopping for flooring is a lot like going out to eat. You can choose a big chain restaurant, or you can try out a small eatery—family-owned, perhaps. Sure, the chain restaurant might have more options, but some of the best meals you’ll ever have will come from the mom-and-pop shop. So, if you’re looking for the best cork flooring you can find, you’re going to need to understand the menu!
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to the cork flooring Lowes sells, the cork flooring Home Depot sells, and the perks of buying your cork flooring from a box store vs. an independent flooring retailer. We’ll talk about offerings; we’ll talk about pricing; we’ll even talk about installation.
Is the cork flooring Lowes sells actually worth buying? Let’s find out together!
Before we jump in, here’s what you should know about cork flooring
Cork is one of the most comfy and eco-friendly hardwood floor alternatives on the market. It’s soft and warm under your feet. And while it’s not a true hardwood (it’s actually harvested from tree bark)—this natural material is often described as one of the most durable wood flooring options around. Some of the best engineered wood flooring manufacturers even make engineered cork!
While there are endless types of flooring to choose from, if you’ve weighed the pros and cons of cork flooring, you’ll know that it’s one of the best. So without further ado, let’s learn about the cork flooring Lowes offers!
What cork flooring products does Lowes sell?
While items at specific locations may vary, a simple site search resulted in only one type of genuine cork flooring at Lowes—an engineered product. And while engineered wood is not the same as fake wood flooring, this is something to consider.
As with most engineered products, the cork flooring Lowes offers can be installed as a floating floor. And while there are some disadvantages of floating floors, they’re by far the easiest products to install (one of the reasons so many people debate between installing tile vs. laminate).
How much does Lowes cork flooring cost?
Lowes’ only type of cork flooring is offered online at $2.99 per square foot and sold at $68.74 per carton. Each carton covers 22.99 square feet. This is relatively inexpensive compared to some other types of flooring, but pricier than others (if you need some context, check out this wood flooring cost calculator).
Does Lowes cork flooring come with installation?
As mentioned, Lowes only cork product comes in a click-together flooring setup (aka a floating floor), which means you can install it without glue or nails. This makes it a relatively easy do-it-yourself flooring option. But, as with all floating floors, you’re going to need to put down a proper subfloor underlayment as well. And if you just had to Google “what is subflooring”, you might want to leave installation to the professionals.
Unfortunately, Lowes does not offer installation. Rather, they connect you with “professional independent installers” who the company claims are “screened, insured, background-checked and, where applicable, licensed.” This third-party installer will schedule an in-home appointment to measure your space and discuss your flooring needs before providing an estimate.
Does that sound sketchy to you? You’re not alone. We almost always avoid third-party installers because you have literally no idea who they are or how highly (or poorly) they’re rated.
Reviews of cork flooring from Lowes
We’ve discussed the hard facts about Lowes’ cork flooring: they advertise only one option online, it costs $2.99 per square foot, and you can put it together yourself or work with a third-party installer. But what are people actually saying about the cork flooring from Lowes?
According to 131 online reviews, this product scored 4.5 out of 5 stars. Most of the reviewers chose to install on their own. While some remarked on the ease of click-lock flooring, others were unhappy with the final result, noting unfavorable gaps and seams.
7% of reviewers gave this product a 1-star review, citing low durability, unexpected color variations that looked vastly different from the samples, and a cheap, lusterless look. One 4-star reviewer remarked on the importance of comparing prices between Lowes installation and a local contractor, stating, “Lowes installation cost would have been $1860. I hired a local contractor to do an excellent job for $360.”
What cork flooring products does Home Depot sell?
Overall, Home Depot offers more types of wood flooring than Lowes does—and the same goes for cork. A quick search reveals 15 different cork flooring options, many of which are offered in multiple colorways.
According to Home Depot’s website, the store’s “hardwood specialists” will help you select the best hardwood floors for you—and we assume that goes for cork as well.
How much does Home Depot cork flooring cost?
The price of Home Depot’s cork flooring starts around $2 per square foot and ranges up to $12.44 per square foot (before installation, of course). If you’ve been comparing different surfaces like bamboo flooring vs. laminate, for instance, you’ll know that this is a relatively normal price range—so let’s move on to installation.
Does Home Depot cork flooring come with installation?
If you need professional installation, Home Depot advertises contractors that are “local, licensed, insured, and undergo a thorough background-screening process.”
But, reviews posted on their website tell a different story. Of the 4432 reviews of Home Depot’s hardwood floor installation, 15% of participants gave the lowest possible score of 1-star. That’s not great.
Translation: if you’re looking for nifty ideas on how to replace flooring, the reviews would recommend that you don’t use Home Depot’s third-party installation services. Our advice? Find a flooring store near you for installation help. Local retailers are actually accountable for their work.
Reviews of Home Depot’s cork flooring
Less than 50% of participants gave a 5-star rating to Home Depot’s “best-selling” cork product. One reviewer listed the cons of this product as: “Difficult to Clean, Scratches Easily, warps with any water content, not good for kids or pets, don’t clean it/ walk on it / breath[sic] around”.
A certain 1-star reviewer was disappointed that the product showed up damaged and not as-advertised, but gave praise to Home Depot’s return policy.
To quote another reviewer: “Dealing with store personnel was a disaster. Sales person gave incorrect information, expeditor service was a joke… dealing directly with installation firm would have been better”.
But remember: Home Depot does offer DIY workshops
One upside to Home Depot: they offer workshops to help DIY-ers learn home improvement skills, such as how to install carpet tiles or how to install hardwood floors. Workshop offerings and schedules vary by store.
Do Lowes and Home Depot offer flooring returns?
With a number of shaky product reviews, you probably want to know whether Lowes or Home Depot cork floors can be returned if you’re unsatisfied with the product. Generally speaking, the answer is yes.
According to the Lowes Return Policy published online, “most new, unused merchandise can be refunded or exchanged with proof of purchase within 180 days of the original purchase date. Some exceptions to the standard policy exist.” However, it’s unclear whether the cork flooring Lowes sells is returnable after being installed by their third-party contractors.
According to Home Depot’s return policy, “most new, unopened merchandise sold by The Home Depot can be returned within 180 days of purchase, unless noted in our Return Policy Exceptions.” Again, it’s unclear whether cork flooring can be returned after installation by one of their third-party installers.
Why you should buy cork flooring from a local flooring retailer instead
Ok, we’ve compared the cork flooring Lowes sells and the cork flooring Home Depot sells—now it’s time to talk about the cork flooring you can buy from independent flooring retailers. What do we mean by “independent retailers”? Mom-and-pop flooring stores! And if you haven’t figured it out already, it’s way more worthwhile to buy your cork flooring from them than it is to buy your cork flooring from Lowes or Home Depot. Here’s why.
There are so many more cork flooring products to choose from
If you think Home Depot’s 15 products are the extent of cork flooring, you couldn’t be more wrong. Local flooring retailers work directly with manufacturers—which means they have access to hundreds, sometimes thousands of different products that box stores don’t carry.
Local flooring experts make the best recommendations (and they actually know what they’re talking about)
This is a big one. Big box stores have so-called “flooring experts”, but how do you know for sure that they weren’t recently transferred from the garden or appliance department? You don’t. Sure, you could quiz them on the best hardwood floor brand, the differences between linoleum vs. laminate, or the cost to replace carpet with hardwood, but it’s not really the best use of your time.
Flooring-specific retailers only offer one type of service, so you know they’re experts in the field. They’re familiar with local flooring trends, locally sourced materials, and cutting-edge industry developments (like snap-together tile flooring).
Whether you need a guide to buying hardwood floors, want to talk about outdoor flooring options, or just need answers to basic questions like “what is laminate flooring”, local flooring experts have the actual know-how to help.
You can also find better prices (and a wider price range)
While the cork flooring Lowes and Home Depot offers is sold at a firm price, local retailers can work with your budget. Gone are the days of choosing laminate vs. hardwood floors based on price—if you work with a real independent flooring company, you can have your cake and eat it too. And it’s the same for cork products!
Plus, local retailers can give you tips on how to cut installation costs, like moving your own furniture or hauling away your previous finished floor. And speaking of installation…
They offer custom, accountable, high-quality installation
The cork flooring Lowes offers might be good, but if you believe the reviews, its installation is suspect (to say the least). Don’t want to work with some sketchy third-party installer you’ve never met or heard of? We don’t blame you. Want high-quality installation backed up by people you know and have done business with (and not just random retail employee)? Again, we don’t blame you.
If you work with a local retailer, you know who’s coming in your home to install your cork flooring. It’s someone you’ve spoken with, someone who’s accountable to people you know—not some rando.
Independent retailers have an incentive to do a great job
Local retailers aren’t just in it to get your hard-earned money. Small business owners rely on personal referrals and repeat customers to grow their business.
They want you to tell your friends about your great experience discussing the pros and cons of engineered bamboo flooring or the virtues of carpet vs. laminate. They want to be the first ones you think of when choosing types of tile for your newest home improvement project. They’ll take care of you and will do a great job with your cork flooring!
You already know this. The profits from large corporations go to shareholders and CEO bonuses (and in Home Depot’s case, political campaigns). Small business owners and employees live in the communities where they work. They pay taxes, they support the local soccer team—heck, sometimes they coach the local soccer team. Your business isn’t just a drop in the bucket for them, and they’re willing to go above and beyond for you.
Conclusion: is the cork flooring Lowes sells actually worth buying?
“Worth buying” is a personal opinion. But if you look at the offerings, pricing, installation method, and reviews of the cork flooring Lowes sells—and of the cork flooring Home Depot sells—well, we think you’d be better off purchasing from a flooring retailer in your area.
Look, plenty of people have bought cork flooring from Lowes, and some of them have come away satisfied with the experience. Just know that these big box stores aren’t your only option!
And for more information on many different types of flooring, check out: