Sustainable flooring choice – Cork Flooring
Want a quality flooring that is warm and cushiony then think cork. Soft like suede, it has the insulating qualities and resiliency of carpet; the easy-to-clean surface of wood or tile; plus lush appeal from its earthy colors and rich visual texture. But did you know that cork’s number one property that makes it the best flooring option in the world is that it is environmentally friendly. Cork is one of the few materials that can boast that is renewable and sustainable flooring.
Cork has a multitude of green characteristics. Forests of Quercus suber, the one oak species that produces cork, grow in the Mediterranean, primarily in Portugal. Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak. It is a 100% natural plant tissue consisting of a hive of microscopic cells containing a gas identical to air and coated primarily with a waxy substance called suberin. The material is acquired by stripping most of the outer bark from the cork oak tree.
Typically, virgin cork is not removed from saplings until the 25th year, and reproduction cork (the first cycle) may not be extracted for another 9-12 years. Cork bark is removed from trees in spring or summer. During this time of year the bark comes away easier because the tree is growing and the new, tender cork cells being generated break easily. This regular harvesting is performed by trained workers who are required by law to do the tree no harm. The tree is left standing, healthy and whole, and the bark grows back, to be stripped again every nine years. These trees can live for 200 years, and during its lifetime one tree can put out a harvest of 8 to 15 times. Therefore these forests are sustainable flooring and highly prized, passed down through generations of families.
The cork forest is one of the greatest natural treasures. It contributes to the preservation of the environment thru soil conservation, regulation of the water cycle, reduction of carbon emissions and preservation of the biodiversity. In the Mediterranean region, an area of little rainfall and heavy heat, cork forests play an important role in regulating water and soil conservation, providing protection against wind erosion, and increasing the rate at which rain water infiltrates and replenishes the groundwater. The cork oaks can intercept around 26.7% of total rainfall, helping to reduce runoff, thus preventing soil erosion.
Just like the harvesting process, the refining and manufacturing process of cork material is geared to be earth friendly as sustainable flooring. Products used, such as water-based adhesives to coloring, are chosen for their low environmental impact. After being stripped, the bark sheets are the left to cure outside in the sun and rain for up to 6 months. This strengthens and flattens them. Once in the factory area, the bark is boiled to make it easier to remove the woody outer layer. The cork is broken into small pieces, then ground to the desired consistency. Pressure and high temperature steam mold the granules together and an additional binding agent is used to finish.
With an understanding of how cork is such an environmentally friendly material, now it makes sense to add it to your home. Build with a product that helps the earth. Visit us at www.icorkfloor.com. Begin a new chapter in your homes floor. Cork it and watch the years go by. When it comes to cork flooring, we know what we’re doing. Join us.