To fully understand cork flooring you must first understand the material that it's made of, which is cork. Cork is obtained by harvesting the bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus Suber); which is located in the Mediterranean. There are seven countries around the Mediterranean that grow cork oak trees. These countries are Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia. Portugal is the largest producer of these seven countries and accounts for more than 30% of the world's cork oak tree population. Portugal also accounts for over 50% of the worlds cork production.
The actual process of harvesting cork from a cork oak tree doesn't damage or require cutting down the tree itself. The cork is harvested by stripping off bark (cork) every 9 to 10 years after the cork oak tree is mature. This is why cork flooring is considered a natural renewable resource. The cork material is actually made up of tiny honeycomb like structures that contain about 90% gas air. It's estimated that per cubic centimeter of cork there is an average of 40 million of these honeycomb structures. These honeycomb structures are what make cork flooring great for insulation and comfort. You can even compress cork up to 40% and it will return to its natural shape with damage. This is why cork flooring is a very durable flooring solution.
The Resilience of Cork Flooring
It's common for people to assume that cork flooring can easily be damaged and not withstand sufficient wear and tear as a flooring product. However, this is far from the proven truth. One of the primary characteristics of cork flooring is its ability resist both pressure and impact. This is due to the main material which has a honeycomb cellular structure containing microscopic air pockets. These air pockets can be compressed as much as 40% and return to their original shape without damage. This reason alone is why cork flooring can hold up well to foot traffic and pressure from furniture. However, as with any type of flooring product it can be damaged and you should still use furniture pads underneath furniture legs. The resilience of cork flooring makes it an excellent solution in any residential and also commercial environment.
Cork flooring can be used in virtually every room of your household; including the bathroom and kitchen. This is due to cork flooring being great at resisting water and moisture; this is evident enough to anyone who has seen how cork stoppers hold wine inside a wine bottle. The natural resistance to water is thru the element of suberin in cork. Suberin is a waxy material and it's a component of the cellular make up of cork. Scientific studies have shown and proven that suberin is also resilient to insects and has some fire resistance properties. Even though cork flooring is resilient to water you should always clean-up any standing water to prevent a breakdown of the cellular structure.
The Beauty of Cork Flooring
The benefits of cork flooring are endless; however one benefit we haven't discussed on this web page is the beauty of cork flooring. Until you've physically seen a cork floor you have virtually no idea how natural and beautiful it looks compared to other types of wood flooring. The detailed patterns and texture of cork flooring is better than almost any other type of flooring material; this even includes hardwood floors. Manufactures of cork flooring can even produce cork floors in many different colors. However, we recommend sticking with the natural color, but if you insist there are literally 100s of colors that cork flooring can come in.