Cork flooring is perhaps the greenest hard floor you can buy.
It’s made from the bark of the cork oak tree – quercus suber – which is ground up and formed into sheets.
To harvest the bark, skilled workers cut it from the tree every 9 years or so and send it to be made into wine corks, flooring, building insulation and many other things. Watch cork harvesting here.
How cork helps planet Earth
After harvesting, the cork oak tree continues to grow, replacing its bark over the next 9 years and becoming 5 times more efficient at removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The process is called carbon sequestration – the tree breaks up the CO2, storing the C (carbon) and releasing the O2 (oxygen) for us all to breathe.
14 million tonnes of CO2
In this way, the vast Mediterranean cork oak forests take about 14 million tonnes of CO2 from earth’s atmosphere every year – CO2 that would otherwise have accelerated global warming, damaged our planet and put the future of humanity at risk. Watch the CO2 savings mount up second-by-second here.
Do cork products also help the planet?
Everything that’s made from cork shares this benefit to our atmosphere.
Even a tiny wine cork is carbon negative – that is, it has saved more carbon than its own weight and much more than is emitted during its manufacture and transportation.
Your floor could save over a tonne of CO2
The same is true of cork floors. All the floors you can see here have prevented much more than their own weight of CO2 from entering the atmosphere – around 93kg per square metre in some cases.
This means that an average domestic floor has sequestrated over a tonne of CO2. Your kitchen, your lounge and your playroom, when laid with Love Cork Floors could do more for our planet than if you planted a garden full of trees!
Cork forests – sustainability superstars
The Mediterranean cork forests that produce the cork used in our floors are classed as biological hotspots – natural ecosystems that are unique in the world. Over 200 animal species and 135 plant types – some endangered – find their preferred habitat here.
These forests also serve the people who live and work in them by supporting forestry, forest grazing, foraging for medicinal plants and mushrooms, honey and beeswax production, bird watching, tourism and horse riding. In Spain and Portugal, over 100,000 people directly or indirectly depend on the economy provide by cork oak forests.
Cork floors – how the advantages add up
In addition to their unmatched green credentials, cork floors have many other plus points:
- They’re hypoallergenic. Nothing in them causes or aggravates skin or breathing problems.
- They don’t harbour mites.
- They’re naturally fire-retardant and even when forced to burn, emit no flame or toxic gases.
- They’re warm to the touch because they’re natural insulators, with very low heat, noise and vibration conductivity.
- They’re light in weight – just 0.16 grams per cubic centimetre
- They’re elastic – floors can be compressed to half their thickness and will recover immediately when released.
Cork. The hard floor that isn’t too hard
Cork floors are great for kitchens, bathrooms, gyms and playrooms because they’re hard-wearing and really easy to keep clean – just like other hard floors, you might say.
But unlike other hard floors, cork floors are flexible and resilient. If you drop a glass or cup while drying up, it’s more likely to bounce than to smash. As kids will confirm, cork floors are nicer to play on than vinyl or timber floors. When used in offices and shops, people find cork floors less tiring after a day’s work. And when laid in hotels, cork is more natural, relaxing and welcoming. Cork floors in the world’s top offices and hotels
Cork floors are easy to care for
You don’t need to do anything special to keep a cork floor looking beautiful for years.
Just sweep or vac it daily and mop when necessary. As with any floor, don’t get it too wet when cleaning and if you stain it, remove the stain with a non-abrasive, bleach-free cleaner as soon as possible.
If your cork floor is in a room with an outside door, it’s a good idea to place a mat by the door as this will catch most of the dirt before it comes in, saving you time cleaning!
Straightforward installation, step by step
Again, there’s nothing unusual about the installation process and full instructions for our two types of cork floor are here. There are also helpful installation and repair videos
These are the basic steps in outline.
- Acclimatise the floor. Keep the tiles or planks in the room they’ll be installed in for 48 hours.
- Make sure the surface you’re laying the floor on is level, clean and sound. If it’s a timber or ceramic floor with joints wider than 2mm, you’ll need to lay plywood or OSB boards first. Switch off underfloor heating.
- Arrange to lay the new flooring planks with their length coinciding with the longest wall of the room, or the walls that have doorways. If you’re laying straight onto floorboards, lay at 900 to the floorboards.
- Leave a 5mm expansion gap around the perimeter and to any fixed elements such as pipes or pedestals.
- Start laying in a corner and place the tongue side of the plank to the wall. The next plank will ‘click’ onto the end of the first one. Cut the last plank to fit, allowing a 5mm expansion gap at the wall.
- Now use the leftover piece of the last plank to start a second row (so long as it’s at least 300mm long). This will ensure an end-joint offset. Always have an offset of at least 300mm across the whole floor. End joints must never coincide.
- Lay the whole floor in this way until you reach the far wall, where you will probably need to cut to fit. Always cut the opposite side of the plank from the locking mechanism, and remember to allow a 5mm expansion gap.
Is cork recyclable?
Totally. Chopped into small particles, they can be re-used in flooring, building insulation or other products and if you want to sort out your own sustainability, simply take up your old cork floor and lay the planks in the attic – you’ll improve the effectiveness of your loft insulation.
If you’re concerned about the insulation materials that are already there (most are less than planet-friendly), you could use two or three layers of old cork flooring and dispense with some of the harmful material.
Your beautiful cork floor doesn’t have to look like cork!
If you’re a fan of all the great benefits of cork, but prefer the look of wood, you’re in luck!
Browse our full range of All-Cork and Cork-Core floors and find no fewer than 29 different wood colours and styles, from rich, dark Farmhouse and Onyx, through authentic brown and grey oaks to the lightest summery Beach House grain!