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The first time I came across a cork floor was at a hot yoga studio here in Victoria. On the studio’s website, they explain that cork is great for its anti-slip and antibacterial properties, and also because it’s an ecological, sustainable material. How lovely it was for me to see that the studio backed up its claims of greenness and sustainability with actual actions.

It didn’t take me long to learn to love the cork floor. It was quiet (not pit-a-pat of feet of late feet on the floor to disrupt your concentration) and it absorbed a lot of the yogis’ sweat throughout the practice. I actually kind of liked walking on it, too. It was never cold, even in the winter, and was soft for bare feet. And it also made the room smell much better than without a cork floor. (Trust me, I’ve been in hot yoga rooms covered in plastic spaghetti floor. Not pleasant.)

strand cork

Left: peeled cork flooring. Right: solid strand-woven bamboo floors. Which sustainable flooring will you choose?

People choose cork and bamboo flooring for plenty of reasons. It might be the price, or the look, or the sustainable aspect. It might be for sound proofing reasons or for durability. Or for any of the many other reasons then come up when evaluating cork or bamboo flooring pros and cons. And if you’re not convinced yet of the value of cork and bamboo flooring, let these ideas inspire your next floor change.

Dark cork for a modern look

Cork comes in a range of shades, from light to dark. Although you won’t see much dyed cork (therefore excluding colors like black and white), you can still find a shade that works for your style.

My favorite is definitely the darkest cork. With color variations of dark brown to red-brown, it gives any room a gorgeous modern style that’s hard to ignore.

Contemporary Dining Room by Austin Interior Designers & Decorators Panache Interiors

I love how the shade of this floor contrasts the powder-blue walls. It gives the room energy and style. The polish on the cork gives a nice shine, but is subtle enough not to blind you whenever the sun comes in. The cork shade is common enough to easily match with furniture, but its pattern is unique enough to deserve compliments.

I also like the square tiles of this dining room; it’s much different from the rectangular tiles you tend to see for flooring. It gives the room a different type of dimension.

dark cork flooring Azores cork from BuildDirect

Evora Cork – Cortica Lite Collection – “Azores Ebony”. Cork flooring takes to stain very well. So, if you really want a dark floor that is cushiony and warm underfoot for a bedroom, this may be the one to look at.

Stranded bamboo

Now, you may have seen bamboo without suspecting it. It usually looks very much like traditional hardwood flooring. However, treated in different ways, bamboo can be strikingly unique.

Contemporary Kitchen by Pittsburgh General Contractors frankovitchjm

This stranded bamboo offers a deep contrast that’s full of movement. In this otherwise spartan kitchen, it has quite an effect. I like that it’s the only organic-looking material in the room. It effectively contrasts against the omnipresent metal and the minimalistic black and white.

I love this flooring because it’s original and unexpected.

strand woven bamboo board close up end

A close-up of a strand-woven board end. This is Distressed Gibson Hand Brushed “Black”

Chevron cork

Cork tiles are available in plenty of sizes–including rectangular. But why stick with boring old straight lines when you can have fun with chevron patterns?

Modern Bathroom by Toronto Photographers Peter A. Sellar – Architectural Photographer

Not only is cork a great material for bathrooms (absorbs humidity and super easy to clean) but, when placed in this chevron pattern, it’s also rather fun. While everything in the bathroom is in straight, rectangular lines, the floor provides a good contrast by being all wavy and pointy.

So the lesson here? Going in a straight line may be the shortest route to a destination, but it’s not always the most fun.

Natural vertical grain bamboo

If you want light color flooring in your room without potentially harmful chemicals having been used to lighten the material, try natural, vertical grain bamboo. For all its lack of advanced finish, it definitely looks sophisticated.

Modern Bedroom by Boston Architects & Building Designers ZeroEnergy Design

Bamboo is among the hardest “woods” out there ( even though it’s technically a species of grass, not timber), and grows fast. Its natural shade is also light, airy and, in my opinion, stunning. If you’re a fan of lighter floors, you can never go wrong with natural bamboo.

Moreover, the vertical grain gives the floor a hardwood look. It’s a case of “I can’t believe it’s not hardwood!” when your guests come to visit and you tell them all about your awesome bamboo floor.

Sustainable AND beautiful

When it comes to flooring, “sustainable” doesn’t have to mean “ugly”. In fact, cork and bamboo flooring are beautiful on their own terms and deserve to be used just because they’re pretty (but the rest doesn’t hurt either).

Are you a green-conscious cork lover or a trend-conscious bamboo fanatic? Tell us your cork and bamboo flooring stories!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.