Market Intelligence

Green & Sustainable Construction

Cork as a Green Flooring Option

Choices in Cork Flooring

Cork, harvested from quickly replenishing cork tree bark, comes in planks and tiles for flooring. Cork flooring typically does not contain toxic formaldehyde, but some types require glue. If needed, ask for the healthiest type of adhesive.

Benefits

  • Comfortable to stand and walk on.
  • Warmth and appeal of a natural material.
  • Resilient — if you drop a plate on a cork floor, it probably won’t break. If struck by a hard object, or something heavy is placed on it, cork will dent, but should spring back in a few hours.
  • Dampens sound — a good option for second-story rooms and hallways.
  • Durable — can last for many years with proper care.
  • Hypo-allergenic.
  • Naturally resistant to fire, insects, and (to some extent) moisture.

Shopping Tips

Look for moisture-resistant products. Not all are designed to prevent moisture from penetrating. Compare warranties.

Cost

Cork is competitive with wood flooring, at about $10/SF versus $9 for oak strip flooring.

Dan Chiras, Ph.D., author of this article, is Director of The Evergreen Institute and President of the consulting firm, Sustainable Systems Design, Inc. Dan is the author of Green Home Improvement and 23 other books on green building, residential renewable energy, and sustainability.


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