Cork Flooring Durability

Cork flooring’s durability is legendary. This well-loved and well known floor has been used for almost two centuries in Europe. Many of the floors installed during the height of the cork flooring fad – between 1880 – 1940 are still in use today and are as handsome and as practical as they day they were laid.

cork flooring durability
cork flooring durability

One of the reasons cork is so durable is that after it compresses it returns to its original shape. Cork is also water-proof and is the only wood product that can claim this. Cork bark contains Suberin – this is a waxy substance found in most plants, however cork has an overabundance of this substance which gives it many of its wonderful benefits – water proof; fire and insect resistant; as well as antimicrobial.

Like all wood floors with a factory finish, cork can be damaged. The finish or wear layer is the first line of defense against damage. Forna’s flexible polyurethane finishes are well suited to cork, but they can wear through over time. Like most wood floors, cork will need to be refinished or refreshed every 3-7 years.

The second line of defense is Cork’s resiliency – it’s ability to recover from insult or injury.  This does not mean that cork will not dimple or dent. What it does mean is cork is less likely to suffer permanent damage or dents. When cork dents, or dimples as we call them, can be “ironed” out with hot steam – such as hot wet towels being applied to the area of indentation.

Like all wood products, cork can be gouged. However, there is a simple process to patch a cork floor. It involving using a sharp knife (like a box cutter), a ruler, wood glue and some extra cork. The damaged area can be squared up with the knife and ruler, the same size of cork “harvested” from an off-cut or spare plank and then glued in place. A small amount of polyurethane (or matching finish) can be applied over the patched area to prevent damage to the plank below.  This repair is homeowner friendly and can take as little as 30 minutes to perform.  This type of patch is rarely needed.  Only in the presence of large gouges (where a piece of cork is torn out and lost) would a patch like this be required.