The Truth Behind Cork
Cork – what’s the story? Are you really green and just how durable are you against pets, kids and stomping adults? We sat down recently for an e-chat with Walker Hicks, Marketing Director at Cali Bamboo, to learn more about their latest green building product; Cork Flooring.
We know cork is harvested from the renewable bark of cork oak trees and that it grows back. That’s amazing and makes cork itself a sustainable substance. But what about the process of making it into flooring, tiles, etc? How green is that?
Cali Bamboo: You are correct; the material we start out with is renewable. In addition to that, 42.8% of the plank is made from pre-consumer recycled cork. When they make corks for the wine bottling industry, they punch the cork cylinders out of blocks of cork, which creates this waste material that is full of holes. This “holy” material is then ground up and re-formed into the core and bottom of the flooring. This is the material that closely resembles a typical cork board. One of our floors in particular (Desert) is made of almost completely reclaimed material. The cork flooring is CARB Phase2* certified (very difficult to achieve from what I’ve been told) in the State of California.
*CARB (Californa Air Resource Board) regulates formaldehyde emissions from composite wood sold and used in indoor applications and is the standard across North America.
What are the chief benefits of cork flooring?
Cali Bamboo: The top three are as follows:
- Cork flooring is less susceptible to damage caused by moisture, making an ideal floor for areas of the home such as laundry rooms, basements, bathrooms and kitchens.
- Cork is a softer more forgiving floor, making it more comfortable to live on than a traditional hardwood. Parents often want the look of hardwood but are concerned about the floor being too hard for young children, making cork great for nurseries and playrooms.
- Cork is super easy to install, perfect for a DIY homeowner. (I’ve actually installed it in the laundry area of my home and it was really easy to cut and lay down).
Is cork naturally waterproof or is it the finish you use that makes it waterproof?>
Cali Bamboo: The cork portion of the floor (top and bottom) is waterproof. However, there is also a substrate board in the middle that is made of an MDF type material which is not waterproof. Luckily this material is below both the GreenClaimed Ceramic Shield finish and a layer of cork, and there is a layer of cork on the bottom of the plank effectively “sealing in” the non-waterproof layer. The finish does provide additional moisture protection but it is really designed as a durable coating to protect against scuffing and scratches. The floor has a 15 year warranty covering it against normal wear and tear. If you drag a fridge across it and scratch it that is, unfortunately, not something that is covered.
How do you maintain a cork floor? Does it need to be refinished every 5-10 years as some sites say?
Cali Bamboo: Sweep it regularly and keep it free of dirt and sand (neglect this and the surface can wear prematurely). Use a wet Swifter type system for cleaning; never use a big wet mop on it, all that water sitting on the surface is unnecessary and not recommended. It should never need to be re-finished, but if after 15 years you want to extend the floor’s life, I guess you could give it an additional coat of urethane. But never sand it like you would a hardwood.
How does cork fare with pets, children and high traffic?
Cali Bamboo: Because the surface is softer, it will hold up to smaller pets; 50 lbs. and under, better than heavier pets. Kids and high traffic are no problem as long as you sweep it free of dirt and sand regularly.
Three best phrases to describe cork?
Cali Bamboo: Moisture resistant, do-it-yourself friendly and comfortable!
ABOUT CALI BAMBOO®, LLC
Based in San Diego, Cali Bamboo manufactures green building materials. Founded in 2004, the company has become a model of how individuals, businesses and communities can implement modern design while maintaining structural strength and environmental integrity.
Cali Bamboo services residential and commercial building projects across North America with a wide range of products including low cost bamboo flooring, fencing, composite decking, plywood, poles, paneling as well as cork. For more information visit CaliBamboo.com and visit our Green Directory for examples of Cali Bamboo products – both bamboo and cork flooring, and decking.