Cork Flooring Drawbacks
While cork flooring does have many benefits, it's always important to understand its limitations before making a decision for your home. First, cork flooring is not indestructible. "Regardless of what you hear, it will scratch and show indentations, specifically from high-heeled shoes," said Steven Tolli, owner of S/L Certified Inspection Services and a 34-year flooring industry veteran from New York. For this reason, it's recommended to outfit furniture feet with soft pads or coasters. Pet toenails can also be very sharp and damaging to cork flooring; be sure to keep them clipped [source: The Finishing Store]. Adding a coat of polyurethane and recoating every year will help to protect the cork flooring.
Another drawback to cork flooring is the potential for fading. "Unlike hardwood floor, cork gets lighter with exposure to light," says Ann Wicander, president of WE Cork. Windows with UV-protective coatings or window coverings can help with the potential for fading.
As noted previously, cork flooring can be affected by humidity levels. This can cause the product to swell or warp with changes in moisture. It's recommended to keep the humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent to keep the flooring looking its best [source: The Finishing Store].
Finally, cork flooring does have a cost associated with it that might be a drawback for some homeowners. If cost is a major concern, on average, cork would be more expensive than some varieties of carpeting and vinyl tiles that can be found for less than $2 a square foot [source: Carpet One, Lowe's and Owen Carpet, Inc.].
While cork flooring does have a few drawbacks, if you're looking for a type of green flooring with a wide range of design possibilities and unique benefits, cork is certainly an option to consider.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
- Baker, Kermit, PhD, Hon. AIA. AIArchitect. "Residential Architects Report That Popular Home Features Focus on Energy Conservation and Accessibility." September 5, 2008. (September 24, 2009)http://info.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek08/0905b_hdtsq2.cfm
- Biscoe, Jennifer. Marketing vice president for Globus Cork. Personal interview. September 22, 2009.
- Carpet One. "Soft Touch." (September 24, 2009)http://www.carpetone.com/carpet.aspx
- Carpet One. "Vinyl." (September 24, 2009)http://www.carpetone.com/shared/pages/search/SearchResult.aspx?ReturnToId=1&RetailerId=61&Page=4
- Cork Institute of America. "About Cork: Properties." (September 24, 2009)http://www.corkinstitute.com/properties.html
- Fallingwater. "What is Fallingwater?" (September 28, 2009)http://www.fallingwater.org/37/what-is-fallingwater
- The Finishing Store. "Cork Facts." (September 22, 2009)http://www.finishingstore.com/index.php/docs/Cork_Facts
- Globus Cork. "Earth Friendly and Green Construction." (September 24, 2009)http://www.corkfloor.com/benefits.html
- Jones, Wendes. "Walking on Air, Naturally: Cork Flooring Combines Many Flooring Benefits." (September 19, 2009)http://www.plantservices.com/articles/2003/128.htm
- Lowe's. "Vinyl Flooring & Accessories." (September 24, 2009)http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productList&No=12&Ne=4294967294&category=Vinyl+Flooring+%26+Accessories&N=0+4294901679
- Owen Carpet, Inc. "Carpet Deals." (September 24, 2009)http://www.owencarpet.com/carpet-deals.htm
- Piper, Clinton. Museum Programs Assistant Fallingwater. Personal interview. September 28, 2009.
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. "Mediterranean Summer at Kew Gardens: Growing Cork Oak." (September 22, 2009).http://www.kew.org/medsmmer/plant-profiles/corkoak-growing.htm
- Tolli, Steven. Owner of S/L Certified Inspection Service and 34-year flooring industry veteran from New York. Personal correspondence. September 23, 2009.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality: Organic Gases." January 26, 2009 (September 24, 2009)http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html
- WE Cork. "Cork Information." (September 19, 2009)http://www.wecork.com/corkinfo.html
- Wicander, Ann. President of WE Cork. Personal interview. September 22, 2009.
- World Wildlife Fund. "Cork Oak." (September 19, 2009)http://www.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/cork_oak/
- World Wildlife Fund. "Priority Species." (September 24, 2009)http://www.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/