Cork flooring is made from the bark of mature cork oak trees. A tree must be at least 25 years old before its bark can be harvested to make flooring. After the first harvest, the bark can be gathered again about once every nine to ten years. Each time it grows back, the bark develops a smoother texture. Cork flooring is produced by pressing the harvested cork oak wood with man-made materials and resins, which binds the floor together and produces the cork-like texture with which most people are familiar. This brings us to the first disadvantage or cork floors….
Lack of Variety
Because cork flooring is made from natural materials, there are fewer selections of color and pattern from which homeowners can choose. Most other types of flooring, such as vinyl and linoleum, come in a variety of colors and patterns to match almost any décor. Cork floors, on the other hand, cost much more to paint or stain (not to mention the added inconvenience this causes). They are best suited to a more naturally decorated home, so not everyone will find that cork floors fit seamlessly into their current décor.
Another of the primary disadvantages of cork flooring is its high maintenance requirements. Cork is softer and less durable than most other types of flooring materials. It will likely need to be refinished and resealed once every few years to keep it in top condition. If it isn’t resealed regularly, it may not be resistant to spills and moisture, which can cause serious damage. If you do decide to stain your cork floors, you may have to hire a professional. Because the outer layer of cork is so soft, the stain often appears uneven if you don’t know how to apply it correctly.
Cork flooring is also more expensive than other types of flooring. It requires installation by professionals to ensure optimal visual appeal and prevent irregularities, which adds to the cost even more. In addition, much of the maintenance of cork flooring can become quite costly. The annual resealing can be expensive, for example, as well as the coating with a UV protective coating to prevent fading from exposure to UV light.
Cleaning and Routine Care
Cleaning cork floors may also be more inconvenient, as regular cleaners cannot be used on the material. A solvent paste wax must be used instead, which can be very time consuming. The floor is easily damaged and faded, due to exposure to sunlight, oil or greasy spills, and alkaline cleansers. Homeowners must take care in areas where cork floors have been installed not to place heavy furniture or appliances, as this can also damage the floor.
Although there are numerous disadvantages of cork flooring, many homeowners still desire cork floors for their natural, earthy look. Talk with a professional installer for more information on cork flooring to find out if it’s right for you.