What is cork flooring?

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.

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