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cork flooring living room pink couch

BuildDirect’s Wide Plank Harvest Collection, featuring floating floor options for cork.

Cork flooring is a versatile surface for nearly any interior space. If in doubt, take a read of the below for uses, pros and cons, and even its environmental benefits.

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When it’s time to choose flooring, there are enough options out there to make your head spin. But if having a quiet house matters to you, that narrows down the options significantly, and puts cork flooring in the forefront.

Cork has long been known as a sound-deadening material, as well as being easy on the feet. These advantages come from the basic cellular structure of cork. It is made of millions of 14-sided cells, put together much like a honeycomb. That particular design breaks apart sound waves, which means the sound can’t travel as far as it might through other materials. The result is that sound stops when it hits the cork. That’s why for so many years, cork has been used effectively in recording studios, libraries, movie theaters and meditation rooms.

Browse for wide plank cork flooring.

Where to Use Cork Flooring

Cork used to be found only in tiles, which were used on ceilings and walls to deaden sound. But now that cork flooring has caught on, homeowners are realizing the many advantages of this handsome material. Cork flooring works well on its own, but it can also be installed as a subfloor, underneath some other type of flooring. Though the sound-deadening properties won’t be as pronounced, there will definitely still be a difference.

Another advantage of cork is the springiness underfoot, which provides a firm-yet-gentle surface for your floors. Besides that, cork is naturally fire-resistant, and depending upon the finish, can be a non-slip surface. It is also anti-microbial and resistant to mold and mildew.

ebony cork flooring bedroom

Azores label “ebony” cork flooring for a naturally warm walking surface in bedrooms.

Browse for dark cork flooring.

Practical cork floors

Add that to the sound advantages, and you have the perfect flooring for playrooms, kids’ bedrooms, and any other areas where children are at play. When they take a tumble (as most young children tend to do!), they will fall to a surface that is more forgiving than typical hardwood. When they happen to drop a drink on the floor, you won’t have as much worry about mold or mildew setting in. And when they are squealing with delight, the sound will still get through — but the piercing sound will be pleasantly dulled a bit, saving parents from headaches!

Cork can also be used throughout the home to create a beautiful, unique look while offering all the benefits. Cork is great for the kitchen, where serious cooks might experience foot fatigue on other surfaces. There is also the aforementioned resistance to mold and mildew, which is great for areas where water is the norm. Look to cork flooring for rooms on the top floor, where footfalls will be deadened a bit. It’s great in rooms where you want to have serious quiet, such as meditation rooms, studies and home libraries. In fact, handsome cork flooring can be used anywhere at all in the home.

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“Estrela” cork tile flooring, for a continuous, intricately patterned surface to contrast neutral elements like walls, doors, and even furniture.

Browse for cork tile flooring.

Cork Flooring Pros and Cons

As with any type of flooring, there are a few cons to cork flooring. Cork must be sealed properly in order to prevent water damage; though it is water-resistant, it is definitely not waterproof. Resealing every few years might be required, depending upon the particular style of flooring.

Sometimes cork can stain, especially if it has been a while since it was freshly sealed, so watch out when you open up that red wine! Mind the wine opener, too, because cork can be damaged by sharp objects.

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Cork flooring goes beyond the crumbly bulletin board surface you may have imagined. This is the Evora label Long Plank Almada Collection (“Marshland”) that adds modern style and sophistication, along with the other benefits for which cork floors are known.

Browse for long plank cork floors.

Some environmental activists have expressed concern about shipment of cork, as it comes from forests in Southern Europe. Though cork is a sustainable product, shipping so much of it across the world can’t be good for the environment.

However, the fact that cork is 100% natural and is harvested through a very environmentally-friendly process — the bark is removed from the trees by hand, but the trees are never cut down — the use of cork is arguably held in balance when it comes to the environment.

Cork flooring is ready for you

Ultimately, cork is an excellent material for the home that keeps the environment in mind. From a unique look to fire-resistance to sound-deadening properties, cork is a great option for any room in the home. When you’re ready to figure out how to use cork in your own home, check out some cork flooring reviews and start your shopping with confidence.

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.