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Cork

Flooring type

Definition of Cork

Cork is a soft and renewable flooring material obtained from the bark of the cork oak tree—a native Mediterranean tree. 

It’s a sustainable material because a tree doesn’t have to be cut in order to produce it. Instead, the bark of the cork oak tree, which can live up to 250 years, is peeled back every 9–12 years to obtain this material. 

Cork flooring comes in the form of planks and tiles that provide natural insulation and sufficient cushioning, making it perfect for reducing noise and impact. 

Cork flooring tiles measure 12 by 12 inches while cork planks measure 3 inches by 12 inches. The tiles are finished with a wax or polyurethane coating while planks can remain prefinished or unfinished.

Cork flooring can also be site-finished and needs to be acclimated to the installation environment, just like hardwood flooring. It has a unique cellular structure that expands and compresses as temperatures change. 

Cork floors are available in a wide variety of colors, including natural shades of brown and bright, dyed colors like red and blue. It can also be cut into different shapes including squares, rectangles, and hexagons. 

Pros Cons
  • Naturally hypoallergenic
  • Resistant to mold and mildew
  • Low maintenance option, only requiring regular sweeping or mopping
  • Sustainable, eco-friendly, and biodegradable
  • Fades with exposure to ultraviolet light
  • Prone to abrasion
  • Difficult to tell when the finish is wearing away

Example of Cork in a Sentence

“Your cork flooring needs to sit in the installation environment for about 48 hours to ensure it’ll adjust to the temperature and humidity when it’s installed.”

Related Terms:

  • Tree bark
  • Cork planks
  • Cork tiles