Cork flooring?

turkeytaker(Atlanta)June 30, 2007

I've started looking at flooring to replace the old and water-damaged flooring in the house, and I noticed that they have cork flooring.

The websites for the stuff proclaim the glory of cork, and they tell me all sorts of things about it being virtually waterproof, well wearing, and as easy to install as vinyl tiles.

Does anyone have any experience with this stuff? Does it live up to the hype?


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aachenelf z5 Mpls

If you don't get any responses, I'll check with the architects I'm working with on a "Green" housing development project. A few weeks ago they did a presentation on alternative materials to consider for flooring including cork, bamboo etc., but I don't remember which one they really liked. I think I'll be seeing them again in a month or so.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 7:06PM
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From my own experience, either use the real thing or dirt. Ceramic tile (or marble and the other expensive alternatives)and true hardwoods are the only flooring worth the money in the long run. Ceramic tile, etc., lasts forever and real hardwood flooring can be sanded down and redone. Can't say the same for anything else, to my knowledge. It seems most "alternative" flooring is designed to last just long enough to put it in and sell the house. If you plan on living there any length of time...

And vinyl, if you don't upgrade it will start cracking within a year. The more expensive stuff will last 10+ years.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 11:25PM
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My architect put cork flooring in his own kitchen. It looks pretty cool but I haven't talked with him about the life expectancy or what happens if and when it needs refinishing. If I were doing a new floor at this point I'd seriously consider bamboo but I'd want to check the life expectancy/refinishing info on that first, too.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 9:28AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

There really are some nice alternatives out there these days and I wouldn't simply dismiss them all. The same architect mentioned above also showed us some really cool countertop material made from compressed paper. It had the look of some sort of slate or other stone, but again was a good green alternative. They had been using it in one of their board rooms for at least 10 years and had nothing bad to say about it.

Did you know linoleum has made a huge comeback? Much better than vinyl and again, much more green.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 11:33AM
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Apparently, you can sand down the cork and refinish it. I've also been looking at the bamboo, simply because it looks pretty.

They say the cork is water resistant, but I'd be really hesitant about having it in a kitchen or bathroom. I'm really curious about how it does under heavy pieces of furniture. Some of the wood in the house (old and water damaged) has huge divots where feet of unknown furniture sat. If the cork could recover from that, it'd be better than just about anything.

I can't believe linoleum is coming back...I'd rather have ceramic tile than that! (And I hate ceramic tile.)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 2:59PM
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Like kevin said!
If you use linoleum, make sure that it's real! The stuff made out of linseed oil.
The vinyl type is not only ugly, it's toxic. All of the chemical/plastic floorings out gas nasty fumes.

Although it'll kill my feet after a while, I have a major thing for saltillo paver tiles.
They're probably more of regional thing. I spent too many years in the S.Cal desert! ;~)
It's a pain to keep up at times, but when it looks good...Wow!

Stamped/colored concrete floors are really gorgeous too. I've seen some that are just fantastic.
You can also put radiant heating coils under it and enjoy toasty toes! ;~)
I've got a ton of 'Natural Home' magazine issues around here somewhere.
Probably out in storage.
This house has been a work in delayed progress, as well. Before we bought it, there were so many years of neglect. :~(
The only negative that I see with cork, is the out gassing of phenol formaldehyde. You have to keep that in mind.
I guess that you can try to seal it.

I've been doing a lot of reading and this link has some opinions about bamboo.
I knew that I saw it somewhere! ;~)


Here is a link that might be useful: Tree hugger/cork flooring

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 4:42PM
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The concrete floors are brilliant, but it's not worth the effort of stripping everything out, finishing the concrete, and putting in new flooring to sell the house again.

With the bamboo, you'd probably be fine with a good laminate coat and the light bamboo, according to that article. I wish there was more than astroturf about the cork.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 9:25PM
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I am in the process of redoing all the floors in my house and my flooring contractor talked me out of cork. No easy task mind you, I had my heart set on cork flooring!

The cons:

* The floor must be absolutely level and pretty much guaranteed to stay that way. I am in an older house and the kitchen is on the second floor (bi-level style). There is a slight undulation in the floor which eliminated any chance of cork. Even if the floor is leveled to install it, any settling will cause the floor to buckle since the cork tiles are basically laminate.

* Do not consider it with kids or pets. I have a large dog and it seems if the dog runs though (or kids with toy cars/trucks) there is a strong probablilty that the floor will develop *burrs* which will require refinishing. This seems to happen quite easily.

THe pros:
* Easier on the feet, legs and back if you are standing for long periods of time.

* Renewable resource.

* Attractive

Anyway, those arguements were enough for me to reconsider and decide to go with oak. Yes, more expensive in the short run, but will last for years.

Good luck with your decision


    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 4:46PM
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I was really wondering about how it would stand up to adults with toy trucks and dogs. Good to know that it would end up needing refinishing.

Interestingly enough, I was at the aquarium the other day and I noticed that they had cork in one area of the building. It was in an area that gets a lot of heavy traffic and it still looked good, but the aquarium has only been open a few years.

Too much thought for flooring!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 8:21PM
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I installed it in my bathroom about 5 years ago and it holds up great. I shower and dry off and it is a watery mess. I used to go crazy cleaning it up, now I just leave it and guess what? It still looks great. We could not be happier with it. Ours is a 110 year old house and while the floor was level it was not perfect. Very easy installation and I made sure to put some heavy objects over the non-level parts until the glue cured completely.

And then we built an addition-- big family room and mudroom with laundry. And guess what? The mudroom is cork. I have no worries about water, detergent or anything. It is the best.

(And it feels great on your feet!!)

I'm sorry some let contractors talk them out of it (probably because they were unfamiliar). Many classic art deco buildings featured cork in their lobbies. It holds up!!! We also have wide plank pine floors. Beautiful!! Our contractor tried to tell us to go with the factory finished stuff. We laughed (after much research here) and went with what WE liked. Not what some stranger thought was best for us.

I almost went with Bamboo. Looks great too.

Good Luck!!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 8:06PM
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Thank you ProfWilliams. Yes. I'm a total researcher when it comes to my home. I'm a first time homeowner and am a bit obsessed. Anywho. What I've found out about cork:

1. Antimicrobial. Great for kitchen and baths.
2. Antifungal.
3. Antimold.
4. Insects (termites) won't eat it or live in it.
5. Water resistant.
6. Slip resistant.
7. Antistatic. Which helps with dust.
8. Long wearing. Churches and libraries have had the same cork flooring for over a hundred years and as much as 200.
9. And as mentioned already, it's soft which is actually why it's so long lasting. Research it and you'll see why.

  1. Not to mention it's gorgeous!

I can't imagine a more perfect flooring. I bought my "as is" condo recently and have been remodeling it. My next project is the bathroom and I'm going to put cork in there as well as the rest of my home. I can't wait! I'm doing glue down with APC. Their tiles are not veneer which I like. I hope this helps. Let us know what you decide. :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 2:09AM
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Profwilliams, have you any pets? If it holds up under toenails, it's definitely worth it. I can grind toenails really short, but I can't do that with my my housemate's toenails! (joke)

Regardless of what a lot of contractors are saying, I'd assume, if it holds up to extensive high heel traffic, that it'd be fine with the occasional taloned visitor.

I may see about getting a sample piece and putting it through the hoops...

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 1:49PM
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I am also looking at cork for a kitchen. Does anyone have experience with globus cork?

The samples are beautiful and they say it can be refinished. They also say this has no VOCs. I am looking at glue down tiles though they make floating as well. I understand glue down is better because it is thicker (the cork layer) and is not laminated to other materials that could be more prone to water damage.
Any new information or experience that you have with cork will be much appreciated as well. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 3:40PM
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pajbean(zt5 NY USA)

We installed cork tiles (glue down) 4 years ago in our kitchen and I love it. The cork can get divets in it from heavy 'drops' but so does wood and we love the aged natural look. ONE BIG QUESTION, we get tons of sun in our kitchen and chose a two tone finish on our cork tiles to form a pattern. WE DO HAVE FADING and I wonder CAN the cork flooring be surface finished so we can restore the faded areas? I wish to put a solar finish on windows to resist fading but have to fix the faded area anyway. By the way I would STILL do the cork again, I stand forever in my kitchen as Im a true foodie, so the feet and legs appreciate it too.

Any ideas on the fade issue.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 10:23AM
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I'm looking at installing Cork in my kitchen too. Although I'm aware of all of the advantages, how is it with pets and their water spills? Also, since it dents with heavey furniture on top of it, should I just put it up to my cabinets and not under them? I'm afraid if I put it under my cabinets over time as the cabinets sink into the cork floor my granite countertop may crack. Does anyone have experience with this? I'm new to this whole remodeling thing and would appreciate any help! Thanks!


    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 1:14PM
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stripedone(2/3 SW ALBERTA)

I've done cork flooring and am moving and will do it again. It is very resilient, can be resanded many times. It is warmer than ceramic, quieter than hardwood, and more comfortable on the feet than hardwood, laminate, or ceramic. It can be used in any room in the house. Love it.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 4:11PM
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Are there any brands you've had a good (or bad) experience with?

We're thinking about adding cork to our kitchen, bathroom, hallway, pantry, office and half-bathroom.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 6:42PM
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I'm looking at cork tile for my kitchen and adjacent areas. Local dealers have so little knowledge of the product they are selling, and none of them offer multiple brands of cork. How do I compare brands? I've seen samples of Globus, Duro-Design, Natural Cork, APC Cork, Expanko, and DMI so far. I've seen Globus and Natural Cork installations, but only in showroom offices, not in anybody's kitchen. If you have experience with cork flooring, here's what I want to ask you about:
(1) Can you talk to me about homogeneous tiles (same material all the way through) vs. veneer tiles (thin layer of "pattern" on the top, plain old cork that looks like a bulletin board the rest of the way through)? Is there an industry standard for how thick the veneer layer should be? I've seen it from too-thin-to-measure up to about 1.5 mm. Is the exact thickness of the veneer important, or does it not make any difference? I have put my samples through some abuse, so I can verify that the tiles that have veneer on them do not recover as completely from compression as the homogeneous tile. (Example: the hard plastic glide on a kitchen chair leg.) Even if you keep your floor scrupulously clean and don't mess up the clear finish or scrape through the veneer layer, it seems like having a floor full of little permanent dents would not be good. Does anybody have experience with this? Be aware that some companies don't tell you which of their products are homogeneous and which are not. They can still call it "100% cork" even if the top layer is paper-thin! If in doubt, look closely at the top side, bottom side, and edges of a tile to see if the little "chunks" of material go all the way through. It seems to me that a very thin top layer would lose a lot of the advertised resiliency, because too many of those cushy little cells have been sliced open. Am I wrong?
(2) About the clear finish: Some companies list their prefinished tile as being coated with polyurethane, and some companies list an acrylic finish. Is one considered to be of higher quality than the other? Would one be more clear, or more flexible, or last longer, or be more environmentally friendly? When you site-finish these factory-coated tiles, or years later when it is time to reapply the finish, can you apply a water-based polyurethane such as BonaKemi Traffic on either one of those surfaces?
(3) Has anyone special-ordered tile to get a different size? If I'm willing to wait (6 to 8 weeks), I can get, for instance, 18" x 18" tiles from APC Cork. Is there any reason NOT to do this? Would the quality be any different than the mass-produced size?
(4) Some brands are applied using a type of adhesive that is like contact cement; you apply the liquid to the substrate and to the tiles (if they aren't pre-glued), and they stick together on contact. Other brands use a mastic that is troweled onto the substrate, sort of like laying ceramic tile. Is one method is better than the other? I don't want corners and seams popping up! I hope that installers are more knowledgeable than retailers. If not (am I getting cynical?), is one method more idiot-proof than the other? If I ever damage a tile and have to replace it, would one method make that easier to do?
(5) Are some brands better than others at making tiles that are consistent in size, thickness, squareness, etc.--anything that would make installation easier? Does anyone have experience with mixing two colors of tile (of the same brand) on one floor? Were the sizes of the two the same, or did you run into problems?
(6) Our refrigerator is large and heavy. Where do I put it during the days that the floor is being installed and the finish is curing? Nearest rooms are dining room (hardwood) and den (carpet). How do I get it back in place without ruining the new floor? When it is in place, should I put a sheet of something thin but sturdy underneath the rollers, to keep them from making dents?
Any answers you can provide would help me so much!
P.S. About the Globus tiles: I agree; very nice colors. Most are veneers, so if you pick one that is varies much from the natural cork color, any scratches will show. I saw this at a dealer, in a room used as an office. The floor was a dark color in an interesting layout with small insets of a very light color. Very attractive, except where their desk chair rolls around; lots of pale streaks showing where the dark-stained veneer had worn through. I am personally frustrated because my practical side says "buy solid tiles; they are more resilient and you can sand and refinish them" while my designer side says "but the larger swirling cork patterns are so much more visually interesting!" I'm looking for a compromise. I'm waiting for samples to arrive from DMI. I will soon get to see some Expanko residential installations, so maybe that will help. Someone mentioned APC--be aware that some of their glue-down tiles ARE veneer. Call them if you are not sure; they will tell you which ones.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 10:41PM
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whitecat8(z4 MN)

Anne - wow, you research and come up with questions just about the same way I do. :)

I don't have info on flooring but would think you might check out the veneer in other settings than a dealer's office. Almost anything on the floor around a desk will get trashed if it's not covered w/ a plastic protector of some sort. I've seen them in "wood," too.

Hmmm, if you have a desk at home, maybe you could make a cork protector for it. :)

Please let us know what you find out.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 4:52PM
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Anne, your questions were so intelligent, and I can see that they need answering before I put in a cork floor. Thank you so much! But now, could I ask if you got the answers? I would so appreciate any help you can give. Did you put in the floors or decide against them? Thanks so much. My email is thank you. Kai

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 11:32AM
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Does anyone know if cork can be installed over radiant hot water heating?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 11:35PM
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Test a box with your conditions. That's what I do with new orchid media.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 6:18PM
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We took the plunge and went with cork flooring (against the advice of some)three years ago and do not regret it. It is quieter than wood, easier on the feet/legs, dog friendly (doberman and a mutt) and warm in winter. It hides dirt well and is easy to keep clean. We went with a floating "click together" system that has a cork backing that we installed easily with minimum tools directly over a vapor barrier. Before we bought it we brought home a piece and put it in a 5 gallon bucket of water for 2 weeks. There was absolutely no change. No swelling or delamination. We love it and are putting in our master bedroom soon. We purchased it on line. WestHollow Niagra.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 9:36AM
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Abitaqueenbee, how did you decide on clicklock over glue down for your cork flooring? Did you have to apply a final finish coat over the whole floor? I've found a WONDERFUL green building website called that has so much to choose from. VERY helpful and friendly customer service, too, but at the time it was simply information overload. I will probably order flooring from them (supporting the little guy!), but want to know more about the differences between the two choices.

I'm puting it in our new kitchen over a concrete floor and no builder or contractor will sway me from my choice of cork. It's simply an amazing product.

As for those who worry about what a dog or heavy furniture will do to their floor, look at any floor in your house. You'll see every carpet has some sort of a stain, every wood surface has a little dent or a scratch. That's what's called character. Every surface in a home must have a story or the home will forever stay a house.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 6:25PM
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I haven't been on the Forum for a long time! I have not been able to redo my kitchen floor yet for financial reasons, so I've suspended my research for a while. I'm still very interested to see which products other folks are having success with. The snap-together floating floor sound great; unfortunately I have "thickness" issues with whatever replacement floor I put in my kitchen because of the way the original installation was done. If I install anything that is too thick, my dishwasher will be trapped in place. Who knew it would be this complicated?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 10:12PM
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I'm a new member and have had cork flooring in the kitchen for years. It is every good thing everyone has been saying about it. I have a problem though, in that the finish has dulled and I would like to restore it. It is a floating floor and seems to have a 1/16" clear layer over the cork itself. I'd like to know if I can put polyurethane over this or should I just keep putting polish, that has to be stripped every couple of months, on it. Or if anyone has any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 5:21PM
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Hey, I haven't been here for a while., been deck building and holy cow that is another subject.
Ok I have 2 dogs ,doberman and mutt. they run in and out of the house, I have 5-8 teenage boys that run in and out with them. Neither groups look at their feet before they come in the house.
I have had the floor down since 2004 or so, and it looks great.
I went with a click lock because the floor is on joists. we don't need to glue down. If it gets "scarred" you can screed the surface and re finish with a poly finish... i have read about it,. I haven't done it.
I found it on a "u" sort of site on line. Just click or set it and forget it. The pattern shows NO DIRT. I used a microfiber dampened with vinegar water whenever. the westhollow niagra is what I used. LOVE IT!!!! Have 8 boxes under the bed to do the bedroom next. Really.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 2:27PM
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We've completed our remodel 4 months ago, and installed 3/8" cork glued on concrete (for radiant heat). It is great, feels good to walk on, and maintenance has been simple. So far, we had a few small scratches, but you can't notice them. If you are going with glue-on-concrete method, make sure to get a good installer that will make your floors level. We have one 3yo, and many playgroups run through our house every week.

A great bathroom compement for cork floor are Cor-Terra rubber/cork tiles for the bathroom. We are really happy with them, very grippy, and beautriful.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2009 at 3:46PM
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Did anyone used cork flooring for stairs? I wonder if it is slip resistant. Would I need to get carpet/ rug over the stairs? I am also considering cork flooring in bedrooms and in our basement. Anything to watch for? Any off gassing due to finishes and glues? Thank you! Happy New Year!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 11:34PM
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Hi, there's some interesting posts here about cork's durability. I'm very intrigued - because I've been concerned it would be damaged.

My other question - is whether anyone has seen cork flooring that does not have a yellow shade to it. I'm planning a remodel - but with beige tones.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 5:56PM
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We are planning to remodel our kitchen as a winter project & I am very interested in cork flooring for a few reasons. The 2 big reasons are insulation factor to limit noise & not have an ice cold floor. I have been reading alot of reviews & have found lots of the same pros & cons of cork flooring but I have not found very much information about how geographical location might effect the cork flooring. We live in interior Alaska where the summer can be very wet & the winters are extremley dry & cold seeing temperatures of -50 plus. Does anybody have any experience with cork flooring in an area with similar weather/temperatures?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 8:07PM
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Has anyone else had problems with off-gassing. We spent a lot of money on cork floors for our church, and now have people with chemical sensitivities who are getting sick if they come to church. We have been told that cork floors need to be removed if we don't want to loose our parishoners, who are now worshipping outside when it is warm enough, and not coming at all when it is cold. We had hoped that the off-gassing would lessen in a few months, but it was installed months and months ago and is still making people sick.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 8:18AM
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Please let us know if you used glue down tiles or floating floor click planks, and the brand if you are comfortable sharing this information.
I am considering glue down tiles but some types of glue can be very toxic

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 10:19AM
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Hi ProfWilliams,
I am trying to figure out a quality brand of cork tile to go with for my kitchen and would love to know what brand and type of cork flooring you have in your home, and where you purchased it! Thank you for any info you can provide!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:46PM
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