Why Cork Flooring?

If your research about cork flooring has lead you here then this question is on your mind. You have probably read that cork is a Green Product and that it is a “Good choice for you”. But what does all of this mean to me, the consumer? What definition of “Green” are they referring to? Arm yourself with a full understanding of the product history, atributes, process and production to help you decide why cork is the right choice for you. The facts speak for themselves.

why cork flooring

At the source: Cork Oak Tree or Quercus Suber

The cork oak tree is where it all begins. Most commercial cork comes from cultivated orchards throughout the Mediterranean in countries such as France, Spain, Italy etc. A small percentage is being produced from Chinese cork oaks – Quercus Veriabilis where they are still found naturally in forested areas throughout China. The cork produced from the Asian oak is denser yet not as spongy as the more common European source of cork and has a slower growth cycle. .

The European Oak can be harvested by the age of 25 years, then every 9-12 years after, producing as much as 500 kilograms of cork each harvest. These trees can continue producing at this rate until approximately 200 years of age, averaging 12 harvests in it's lifetime. The Asian variety of Cork Oak is a slower growing tree and is harvested every 12-15 years on average, producing 9-11 harvests during the same period.

Either European or Asian variety of cork oak has the natural ability to shed and regrow its bark without killing the tree. Scientists believe this was a natural ability developed in response to natural disasters such as wild fires. It allows the cork trees to reestablish itself by shedding old or damaged bark without having to cultivate new trees allowing it to remain as a dominant species in an area that has been damaged or destroyed by wildfire. However this mutation was developed, the unique ability to shed and regenerate its bark has allowed for regular peeling of the bark for harvest without damaging the tree. The cork oak is the only tree known to allow for this type of harvesting providing a naturally renewable resource.

How Cork is Harvested

To date, there has not been a mechanized way developed to split the bark of the cork oak and it is therefore harvested with tools by hand. The people who do this manual harvest of cork are skilled workers who have made a career of this specialty. It takes several workers hours to peel one tree. This is a skill that takes years to learn and build the required physical strength together with the skilled care to be trusted with such a task.

Cork harvesting is a way of life and a steady income in areas where there is economic need for permanent jobs. Working in the cork industry is a trade that provides a stable career-orientated occupation with room for growth. Many areas, including smaller villages in Italy, Spain, and Portugal are dependent on the cork industry for economic stability.

The Many Properties of Cork

Cork’s varied advantages as a natural product over its competition bring it to the top of the list of renewable resources. The Cork oak tree itself is not harvested, just the bark is peeled for production. This allows the cork tree to remain mature and able to regenerate it's bark within 10 years, outliving it's harvesters by as many as three human generations. Five hundred kilograms of raw cork is produced without the need for cultivation, maintenance or any interaction from producers. Showing up with the right tools every 10 years is all that is required to produce an abundance of this valuable raw material.

Because cork has found a valuable place in almost every industry, its usable waste has also become an indispensable product. That means cork also tops the Recyclable Resource list. The majority of the bark harvested is used for it's oldest purpose, to produce wine corks. The “left overs” or waste materials are then used to produce the popular cork boards, rolls and sheets for a number of industries. Almost every production use has cast-off waste that can make its way to another industry or purpose.

Cork Flooring and V.O.C's

Forna Flooring products have been produced to European Air Quality Standards on the European market for more than 14 years. These standards are some of the toughest standards for indoor air quality. Volatile Organic Compounds or V.O.C.s refer to the off-gassing emitted by various building materials. The V.O.C.s are measured through Air Quality Control testing performed under strict laboratory conditions. Industry standards have made great advancements in ensuring a lasting cork flooring product that does not produce harmful V.O.C's, Formaldehyde being the most common. As our Forna Flooring products are 100% Formaledhyde and V.O.C Free, cork flooring has made a stronger foothold in today's flooring industry.

These products have been available in North America for approximately seven years now. Forna flooring has been tested by the ECO Institute in Cologne, Germany and has met their high standards as a “Formaldehyde Free” and “V.O.C. Free” product. Even the adhesives and varnishes provided by Loba-Wakol used in the finishing production of Forna products are certified as “V.O.C. Free” by the same ECO testing standards.

Even though cork is naturally flame resistant, should it catch fire, it has also been tested for chemical pollution during fire and proven to not produce any harmful chemicals during a burn. There are no known carcinogens associated with nor produced by Forna Cork Flooring products.

Cork Flooring and it's impact on the Environment

Environmental impact is not only measuring chemicals, it also refers to unwanted sounds or annoying noises that are considers a form of pollution. There are two ways to adress noise pollution: reduce sound at the source or protect and insulate your environment from the source. Cork is an excellent insulator due to it's "honey-comb" like cellular structure making it full of tiny pockets of air. Air is an excellent natural insulator and is what makes cork so buoyant. It in turn also insulates against heat loss and can protect and reduce intrusive noises.

Costs of Cork Flooring Coverings and Installation

The cost of materials and installation are only a few of the many costs a home owner needs to consider when looking at cork flooring. The immediate purchase price, as with any flooring, is only materials. Forna Floating flooring ranks in the middle to moderate price range for hard flooring products. Installation costs can be reduced by the DIY method, which is very much like laying a laminate floor.

Some people may want to opt for the lower priced glue-down cork tiles but must realize the added effort and cost to finish installation. Simply adding in the cost of adhesive required to finish a tile floor could rival the cost/sqft of an alternate floating floor. A professional installation for a tile floor, cork or otherwise, may be double over a floating floor installation due to increased labour hours required. Another crucial consideration is the amount of surface preparation required. If installing in a new build then glue down tiles may be a great investment as a new subfloor is easily prepared for tile. If replacing an existing floor, then sanding, scraping and leveling are only a few of the time consuming efforts needed to create the near-new surface required for cork tiles. At times the subfloor is not ideal and rebuilding or even replacing the subfloor increases the price of installing tile floor beyond the cost of a cork floating flooring.

How Cork can Reduce Household Costs

One reason for choosing cork is its ability to reduce heating and cooling costs. The price of natural gas, oil and even electricity have been on a seemingly endless upward trend. Cork’s natural physical properties make it an excellent thermal insulator adding to the R-value of your home. This is how cork flooring reduces heating costs without the accumulation of dust or allergens that carpet can have.

Cork tiles are also available in a thicker (8mm, 6mm) version great for application on wall tiles or ceiling tiles. These decorative cork tiles are specifically designed for adding style to your décor with all the added benefits cork offers. With the patterns resembling stone or brick you can build a unique feature wall or just give a room your own personal touch.

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Tel: 1-604-207-0661
Tel: 1-604-207-9541
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Fax: 1-866-373-6520

Showroom and Warehouse Address:
Cancork Floor INC
#185-1991 Savage Rd.
Richmond BC, V6V 0A4

About Cork