Cork flooring is an eco-friendly option for your home. Gathered from a sustainable resource, cork is a great choice for homeowners who are looking to live lightly on the earth. While cork is an easy pick for most rooms in the home, there are some essential considerations that you need to address in a bathroom space. The added moisture here presents distinctive challenges.
Thanks to its natural appearance, cork is something that you can add to almost any type of bathroom design. If you’re interested in going for cork in your bathroom, read on to learn more about the pros, cons, and essentials of this pick.
Is Cork Flooring Waterproof?
Cork flooring is made from the bark of the cork oak tree, a naturally renewable resource. Though this is a wood product, it is distinct from other similar types of wood flooring. This spongy bark has natural give, which makes it a comfortable choice beneath your feet. Filled with tiny air pockets, this material offers a soft option that will cushion your step.
This structure requires careful sealing to make it completely waterproof. That waterproofing isn’t guaranteed, though, because the compression of the floor under your weight can cause the sealant to crack.
If water does get into your cork flooring, it’s not necessarily a problem. The cork contains a substance known as suberin that makes it naturally water-resistant. It won’t always stand up to flooding or major puddles, but it can handle a moderate amount of moisture naturally thanks to its unique properties. Cork is also resistant to mold and mildew. Naturally hypoallergenic, this is a healthy choice that’s well suited to some of the challenges of the bathroom environment.
Cork tiles are a popular choice if you’re working on a bathroom. The distinctive squares provide some of the familiar appearance that you might associate with linoleum or other types of tile. You can lay the floor in matching tiles or alternate different shades to create an appealing pattern.
You can get cork tiles in several different forms, and finding the right product will make a big difference in its suitability for your bathroom. Solid cork self-adhesive tiles are available with an easy peel-and-stick application. This is appropriate for a half bath, but less so for a full bath where humidity levels are often high. That high humidity can cause the tiles to expand, crack, and fall apart.
A better choice for a full bath is click-together cork tiles that have fiberboard backing. You can use a vapor barrier beneath the tiles to add to the water resistance. All cork floors should be properly sealed to create a waterproof barrier on top.
When you’re selecting cork tiles, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s specifications for that flooring product. Some types of cork are more appropriate for a high-humidity environment than others. Look for tiles that indicate that they’re appropriate for bathroom installation.
The Advantages of Installing Cork
Cork flooring offers a lot of advantages in your home, particularly in the bathroom environment. If you choose cork tiles for your bathroom floor, you’ll enjoy:
- A soft, cushioned surface that’s gentle on your feet.
- Natural insulation that keeps warmth where you want it.
- A natural flooring appearance that adds to the bathroom’s aesthetic appeal.
- Resistance to dropped items — cork won’t dent.
- Natural anti-microbial properties that help battle mold and mildew.
If your cork tiles sustain damage, they’re easily replaced. While you can’t repair the tile, you can remove it and add a new one in its place. Cork is warm, spongy, and comfortable in a space where you want that added touch of luxury as you’re stepping out of the bath or getting ready in front of the mirror.
If you’re looking for a natural material that’s eco-friendly, cork is an intriguing option that’s worth considering for your bathroom space. It will help your home stand out from the pack with its one-of-a-kind qualities. Available in a wide range of colors, you can customize this product to suit many different styles easily.
The Disadvantages of Installing Cork
While there are several compelling reasons to consider cork for your bathroom, there are also some drawbacks that balance out the scales. Some things that you’ll need to watch out for include:
- Warping and distortion if the cork gets too wet.
- Regular expansion and contraction in humidity that can cause cracking.
- The potential for loosened adhesive if moisture gets below the tile.
When you install cork in a bathroom environment, you need to be very mindful of the challenges that the tiles are up against. You can manage many of these by sealing the floors properly on installation and resealing them periodically. With regular care and attention, you can make cork work for your bathroom area.
Better Bathroom Flooring Options?
While cork is one option that you can use for your bathroom flooring, there are several others that are available to you as well. It’s important to consider all your choices. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are the most common picks for a bathroom installation. These are waterproof, which addresses the primary concern in a bathroom environment. Available in a seemingly endless range of styles, porcelain and ceramic tiles are a versatile choice that will suit nearly any decorating style.
Vinyl flooring is another common choice for bathrooms. This is an affordable product, making it great for renovators on a budget. You can lay sheet vinyl yourself, but it’s important to take the time to do it carefully. If the seams aren’t laid properly, you’ll end up with an unappealing space. When done right, your vinyl installation can give you a convenient choice for your bathroom update.
Whether you choose to mindfully install cork or opt for something else, you can find bathroom flooring that’s appropriate for any preferences. Cork is the ideal option if you’d like to go with something eco-friendly, warm, and soft. You’ll get all of this with cork, in one antimicrobial package that’s great for this potentially messy environment.