Cork Flooring - Why is it green? How is it made?

By
Home Builder with The Flooring Girl
https://activerain.com/droplet/JS

Why is cork flooring considered to be a green product?

Where does cork come from?  How is cork made?  Have you ever wondered?

 

Where does cork come from?

Westchester NY cork flooringFirst, let me clarify that to some extent, virtually every tree has an outer layer of cork bark, but the cork that is used for cork flooring, as well as cork wine stoppers, primarily comes from the cork oak (Quercus suber).  Most of these are grown in countries around teh Mediterranean Sea where the climate is ideal for them - plenty of sunshine, high humidity and low rainfall.  The primary exporter of cork is Portugal, but other counties such as Algeria, Spain, France, Morocco and Tunisia grow these trees as well.

 

The cork oak has a thicker layer of cork than other trees.  So, the next logical question is Why?  And, of course the answer is evolution - these trees evolved to survive the harsh condidtions of the Mediterranean forests which have frequent droughts and as a result brush fires.  In addition, there are large temperature fluctuations.  Well cork is a rather unique substance - its made with water-resistant-cells that separate the exterior bark with the interior of the tree.  it's unlike any other natural material - it's lightweight, rot and termite resistant, resistant to fires, and it's soft and buoyant...how cool is that?

 

What is cork made of?

 

Cork is made of dead cells that accumulate on the outer surface of the cork oak tree. Because of its honeycomb-like structure, cork consists largely of empty space; its density is one-fourth that of water. There are millions of these empty cells per cubic inch cork making it like microscopic bubble wrap or styrofoam.  As a result it's a great cushioning material as well as being great for iife preservers and buoys. The large amount of dead-air space makes cork an effective insulation material for both temperature and noise and that's another reason we'll use it in flooring -either as the actual floor or an underlayment underneath hardwood (often used in condos and coops when there are tenants below.

 

How is cork made?

A cork tree must grow for at least 25 years before you can harvest the bark.  The cork grows back, so it can be stripped every 8-14 years throughout the whole rest of the tree's lifetime.  The trees are not harmed by this process, and they continue producing cork for an average of 150 years.

how is cork made - cork collage - westchester

Using a specially designed hatchet, the harvester slices through the cork layer on the trunk of the tree.  They are careful not to damage the living portion of the tree. Horizontal cuts are made at the base of the trunk and just below the lowest branches. Using the wedge-shaped handle of the hatchet, the harvester strips each panel of cork from the tree.

 

The cork planks are then stacked outdoors and allowed to cure for a few weeks to six months. The fresh air, sun, as well as rain foster chemical changes that actually improve the quality of the cork. By the end of the curing process, the planks have flattened out and hey tend to lose about 20% of their original moisture content.

 

The cork slabs are then boiled to separate the outer layer of bark.  This process also softens the cork and makes it easier to work with. The cork is then scraped (they take off about 2% of it) and placed in dark cellars and allowed to dry and cure for a few weeks under carefully regulated temperature and humidity.

 

Then, they take the slabs and punch them to make bottle stoppers.  (These stoppers, by the way are impermeable to water and gas due to natural waxy substance called suberin.  Also, some more trivia - cork stoppers have been used for over 400 yrs).

 

This leaves the cork slabs full of holes and the scrap cork is used to make cork flooring.  The scrap is ground up and made into larger blocks and then baked in ovens (this is also how cork boards are made).

 

So, why is cork flooring green?

cork flooring in kitchen Westchester NYWell not only is the process of harvesting the cork non-detrimental to the tree, but in addition, because cork flooring uses the left over scrap after cork stoppers are pucnhed out, it's actually doubly green as the material is recycled to make the flooring.  In addition, cork is usually a floating floor that clicks into place and therefore does not require additional adhesive or nails.

 

There is actually a lot more I would love to write about cork, but I will need to save that for another flooring post.

 

And, of course if you are in Westchester County, NY or Stamford CT and need some cork flooring, feel free to give us a call at 914-937 -2950 or visit our website.

Cork Flooring for Westchester NY and Stamford CT

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Re-Blogged 13 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Lori Cain 01/02/2011 12:55 AM
  2. Donna Foerster 01/14/2011 10:17 AM
  3. Vickie Slade 01/14/2011 10:43 AM
  4. Mark Woodward 04/09/2011 01:25 PM
  5. Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089 04/09/2011 01:45 PM
  6. Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional 04/12/2011 02:20 AM
  7. Hillary Sheperd 04/14/2011 04:34 AM
  8. Anita Clark 04/27/2011 02:34 PM
  9. Richard Spano 05/13/2011 01:46 PM
  10. Joanna Cohlan 09/21/2011 10:26 AM
  11. Mark Aakjar 10/09/2011 01:19 AM
  12. Women of Westchester Working Together 11/16/2011 12:43 PM
  13. Gina Tufano 11/16/2011 01:04 PM
Topic:
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Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

David - Thx.  I love that it's a two for one solution.  And, hope your clients find it helpful.

Jan 07, 2011 10:41 AM #21
Rainer
36,172
Shanna Perino
A Sense of Order - Organizing for the Home and Office - Nashville, TN
Certified Professional Organizer/Licensed Realtor

Fabulous information!  I always love to hear about "green" options for interiors and cork has been a big interest of mine for a while, in addition to bamboo!

Jan 14, 2011 11:03 AM #22
Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Shanna - Oh, thank you so much.  Yes, I love bamboo, too.  I've done a post on that as well.

Jan 14, 2011 11:36 AM #23
Rainmaker
1,589,736
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Great topic and story.  I have never had a cork floor, but I hear they are very durable.

Apr 09, 2011 01:43 PM #24
Rainmaker
152,075
Denise Roberts
New Colony Properties, LLC - Pinehurst, NC
e-PRO, REALTOR - Specializing in Pinehurst, NC Area

Debbie - I WANT Cork in my kitchen!!!  If I can ever get my Builder/Fiance to upgrade our kitchen floor, this is my choice!!!  I've never seen it in a house around my area, but I'm willing to be the first!  I don't know if you remember....we exchanged a few comments back & forth about Bamboo flooring.  We are having it installed in a spec home we are currently building and I've very please with it...it looks beautiful! 

Great information, thank you!

Apr 09, 2011 02:00 PM #25
Rainmaker
1,589,736
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

I forgot to say - thanks for letting me reblog this!

Apr 09, 2011 02:24 PM #26
Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Georgina - Yes, they are highly durable. Oh, and thx so much for the reblog. 

Denise - Yes, cork is great.  I have 2 cork customers this week and I'm very excited abt both of their floors.  Oh, and yes, I remember our discussion on bamboo.  That is so cool.

Apr 09, 2011 03:01 PM #27
Ambassador
2,091,088
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

That is amazing information! I had no idea that cork flooring is actually an environmentally friendly profess!

Apr 12, 2011 02:18 AM #28
Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Barbara - Thx so much and I'm glad you found this info interesting.  I've had 3 customers in the last week or so all interested in cork.  It's really a great product.

Apr 12, 2011 04:40 AM #29
Rainer
465,533
Jeremy Wrenn
Winslow Homes - Youngsville, NC
C.O.O., Winslow Homes

Wow!  Who knew all this about cork.  Awesome!

Apr 22, 2011 04:53 PM #30
Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Jeremy - Thx so much.  Glad you enjoyed it.  It really is quite neat.

Apr 22, 2011 10:26 PM #31
Rainmaker
454,955
Ruth Vogt
Fairway Independent Mortgage, LLS. Equal Housing Opportunity. Regulated by the Division of Real Estate. - Colorado Springs, CO
719-592-0855 Apply 24/7 www.ColoradoHomeLender.com

Fascinating! I caught your reblog from Vickie Slade in Colorado and was intrigued. How does cork flooring do in drier climates? We are going to be replacing our carpet this summer, and I'm not sure I want to put carpet back in. We have a very large open kitchen, living room, dining room and sun room. Kitchen and sun room have tile, but two different kinds of tile so I need something easy on the eyes. I wish you lived in our area!!  :)

Apr 23, 2011 11:35 AM #32
Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Ruth - Thx so much.  Glad you enjoyed it.  Cork is great for dry environments...it's the moisture in the other environments that sometimes makes it a challenge.  I wish I was close to you, too.  I'll see if there is someone near by you.

Apr 23, 2011 02:42 PM #33
Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Hi Ruth.  Here are the 3 FCI places in Colorado.  Not sure if an of them are closet to you.

Local Floor Coverings Studio for Colorado Springs Marc Yates Phone: (719) 548-8044

 

Visit Local Flooring Website Local Floor Coverings Studio for Denver, Centennial, Parker, Littleton, Highlands Ranch CO Jeremiah Broz Phone: 303-694-0007

Local Floor Coverings Studio for Denver, Englewood, Aurora and Lakewood Jeff Kellogg Phone: 303-997-1544

Apr 23, 2011 02:47 PM #34
Rainmaker
454,955
Ruth Vogt
Fairway Independent Mortgage, LLS. Equal Housing Opportunity. Regulated by the Division of Real Estate. - Colorado Springs, CO
719-592-0855 Apply 24/7 www.ColoradoHomeLender.com

Thanks, Debbie. I'll look them up and see what they say! Appreciate your info.

Apr 24, 2011 02:40 AM #35
Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Ruth - Excellent.  You're welcome.

Apr 24, 2011 03:31 AM #36
Rainmaker
152,035
Jeremy Joslin
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - South Windsor, CT
Professional Real Estate Marketing and Sales

Very informative post Debbie. It sounds like a perfect flooring for a kids playroom.

Oct 09, 2011 01:27 AM #37
Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Jeremy - Thx.  Yes, it would be great for that.

Oct 09, 2011 01:34 AM #38
Rainmaker
3,332,846
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

We are highly considering this and you know we will call your counterpart in Waukesha when we make the purchase !

Oct 09, 2011 01:43 AM #39
Rainmaker
2,799,114
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Sally & David - Yes, you should!  It's great for kitchens.

Oct 09, 2011 03:11 AM #40
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