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Cork flooring installation: Cost, ergonomics, and performance benefits

When it comes to design choice, the unmatched natural beauty and texture put cork flooring in a league of its own. The versatility of its shading, texture, and grain make cork perfect for visually coordinating space and blending into any home style. This flooring material helps to create a flow between different areas, complementing any color scheme and fitting virtually any décor. Cork tiles can add unique accents to a room, imitating natural stone or wood. They can be arranged into vivid patterns to resemble parquet flooring or ceramic tiles. Besides floors and walls, cork can be integrated into various functional or decorative pieces and surfaces throughout the home. Crafted from renewable and ethically sourced materials, cork flooring is crucial in the shift to greener homes. Unlike hardwood, cork is harvested in a sustainable way (from the outer bark layer) without cutting down trees. If you seek inspiration and blissful comfort in the closeness to nature, choosing cork flooring will be the best idea. When the look of wood meets the feel of cork, the result is a multisensory delight. It’s a pleasure for the eyes while the surface is soft, supple, and warm to the touch.

Cork flooring installation: Cost, ergonomics, and performance benefits

The basics you need to know before the cork flooring installation

Cork has been at the forefront of cost-efficient and green flooring options for more than 100 years. Any man-made material cannot substitute the advantages and distinctive features of this flooring. That is why cork can be put on par with natural stone and tile by its quality and unique properties. 

However, cork is not a one-size-fits-all flooring option and can be less or more effective depending on the room where it is installed as well as the amount of foot traffic and moisture this room is exposed to. Below you will find the essential information about cork flooring to make a well-thought-out decision about whether this material fits your budget and needs.

Cok flooring - The basics

Made from the outer layer of a mature Quercus suber, cork is considered one of the most comfortable flooring options when it comes to underfoot feelings. This material has a cellular structure with millions of cells enclosed with a gaseous substance that makes it resilient and soft to the touch. Cork serves as a natural sound insulation solution and makes for a calm interior atmosphere. This flooring option is also good at insulating heat and cold and resisting the growth of bacteria and fungi. 

Cork flooring service life

If properly installed and maintained, both floating cork floors and glue-down tiles can last up to 40 years. These cork flooring variabilities are naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and termites and can last long without water damage. If giving up on upkeep, the cork will last an average of 25 years before replacement is considered.

Cork flooring maintenance

Cork flooring is prone to scratching and denting. That is why you should consider implementing a no-shoes policy in your home and installing protective pads on the buttons of furniture legs. Damp mopping and vacuuming are needed at least two to three times a week to keep cork flooring in mint condition. Otherwise, grit can get ground into the finish and scuff it. 

The owners of cork flooring should be careful with cleaning detergents as those counting oils can promote staining and cause premature deterioration. Plus, one should use only a damp cloth to mop cork floors, as exposure to excessive water can cause bloating.

It's also worth noting that cork flooring requires recoating at least once in three to five years, depending on how much use it gets. However, if you have a wood-look cork with a PET finish, you should know that it's not subject to recoating. 

Types of cork flooring

Today, cork is processed in the tile, plank, and sheet format and comes in a plethora of colors and finishes. This flooring material can be naturally dyed or stained to offer a wide spectrum of hues and nuances of shading, ranging from the lightest creams and warm earthy tones to gray, blue, reddish brown, mahogany, and even black. Cork products can feature a consistent or varying graining pattern, so each tile can have its texture, veining, and individuality, just like natural stone or wood.

Though cork flooring has been favored for decades as an adhesive installation option, which is still available, the floating-floor cork systems are more popular now. These consist of click-and-lock planks made of pressed cork layers and an HDF layer to be conveniently snapped together like puzzle pieces during installation. Floating cork floors can have hardwood or stone-like appearances and be installed in planks, tiles, or squares for an authentic look. Besides hassle-free installation, easy spot replacement is a major advantage of such modern floor systems. Any damaged pieces can be removed and swapped for new planks or tiles.

Glue-down tiles are made the traditional way from extruded agglomerated cork blocks that are sliced and can be further cut into various shapes. That's why, with their rich colors and textures, such tiles can create bold or sophisticated mosaic patterns and motifs, making their own design statement. But gluing these down for a seamless look is no easy feat, so the price of cork flooring installation adds to the cost. 

The pros of cork flooring installation

While cork flooring looks and feels perfectly in any traditional or modern space, it ensures you do, too. It brings a special warmth and a cozy, earthy, lived-in feel to the interior, turning your homestay into a unique experience.

However, choosing cork flooring isn’t just a trend for eco-conscious people who value comfort and sustainability. Did you know this design element doubles as thermal and sound insulation? Its natural properties make installing cork flooring a fantastic upgrade to the energy efficiency and safety of the home.  

By its very nature, cork is:

  • Lightweight 
  • Breathable
  • Soft and cushiony 
  • Waterproof 
  • Fire-resistant 
  • Sound-absorbing
  • Antifungal
  • Antibacterial
  • Hypoallergenic 

With cork flooring, you can bid farewell to your slipping-in-the-bathroom concerns or kitchen accident fears. Even when it’s wet or you spill something oily on it, cork retains its non-skid properties and outperforms any other flooring materials used for similar purposes. 

Cork flooring is cushiony and easy on your joints and back, so they will thank you, and your feet will love the softness and warmth to walk on. Cork is naturally resilient and elastic,  springing back when pressure is applied and removed, which is why it offers remarkable tactile comfort along with impressive durability.

And finally, cork is a real blessing for those with skin sensitivities and allergies, especially to mold or dust. Due to a natural wax-like substance, it repels moisture, dust, and insects and shows ultimate resistance to the growth of fungi and bacteria.

The cons of installing cork flooring

Cork boasts an abundance of health, environmental, design, and comfort benefits unmatched by any other flooring material. It will keep out the cold, pamper your feet, and absorb noise, vibration, pressure, and shock. That's why kids running around won't bother you as much, they will hurt themselves less if they fall, and your device's screen will likely survive being dropped onto a cork floor. Now, what about the durability and maintenance of cork flooring? Is it top-performing in every aspect, or are there some disadvantages to it? Look below to figure things out:

  • Prone to scratching and sun damage. To increase the durability of natural cork, high-performance finishes and UV protectants are the best solutions against abrasion and scuffs, fading, spills, and stains. These also provide easy cleaning, such as sweeping and mopping or occasional vacuum-cleaning. However, the spills need to be wiped up at once to prevent discoloration, staining, or warping.
  • The need to topcoat every 3 - 5 years. The protective finish will wear away with time and use. That is why, depending on the traffic in a certain area, your floor may need another coat of finish or polyurethane sooner than estimated.
  • The price of cork flooring. Cork is not a cheap option, but still a cost-effective one, as cork tiles can last and look beautiful for decades. Depending on the product, you may save on professional installation to cut costs. But if you live in a cold climate, cork floors will reduce your heating bills and improve the overall thermal comfort of your home, which is a good return on investment.  

How much does cork flooring cost?

Cork floors enhanced with modern technology deliver impressive quality, performance, and versatility to justify their price. They are ideal for hospitality, corporate, educational, commercial, and residential environments. The cork flooring cost per sq. ft. ranges from $3 to $10, depending on the product's manufacturing methods, thickness, and finish. The price of tiles that are 4mm thick averages $5.50 per square foot. The 8mm cork flooring price per square foot can be as high as $9. If you factor in labor costs, your flooring project can run between $6 - $10 per sq. ft. with installation. It will also include the cost of glue and subflooring preparation for glue-down tiles. But it's a fair price for insulating, decorating in a sustainable way, and sound reduction, along with that naturally pleasant and homey feel only cork flooring can provide. That makes it an ergonomic, practical, and aesthetically pleasing solution for creating warm, inviting, and cozy living spaces.

If you think cork flooring may be what you’ve been looking for, this is the right place to make a decision that is good for you and the environment. We recommend contacting professional cork flooring installers to help you navigate the immense variety of products and ensure your new floors are what you’ll appreciate for years to come. Fill out the request form on the HomeQuote website and get installation quotes from the local contractors for free.

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