BAMBOO & CORK

Oooooh that’s Bamboo?  Shock and surprise are often a common response when we show samples and ideas for bamboo flooring to our clients. There are a variety of styles and finishes to choose from that make Bamboo a serious contender for hardwood flooring choices. Typically when we think of bamboo, visions of lush green forests and zen design styles come to mind, but did you know it’s one of the most renewable resources out there? Bamboo is an extremely fast growing plant which can reach maturity in as little as 3 years unlike traditional hardwood trees which can take decades to regenerate. From kitchens to living areas, there are lots of great ideas out there and many great galleries to look at to become inspired.

There is an ever growing selection of colors and finishes from traditional to the visually stunning and unique strand woven finishes that can suit any style from conservative to dramatic!

Bamboo is an ideal flooring choice for everything from kitchens to living rooms and even bedrooms and bathrooms.

 

tiger_strand_marble_bamboo_flooring

As a flooring choice, bamboo is so versatile, easy to care for and it’s beauty will last for years to come. We especially love the tiger stripe finish for a beautiful and unusual floor that will definitely get everyone’s attention! The internet is such a great place to research and get ideas, and since we’re all about sharing information and great resources, we’d also recommend you check out these websites for some ideas on terrific types of bamboo floors as well as unique ways to incorporate them elsewhere in your countertops, cabinets, vanities and furniture!

 

What is a cork floor?

Cork is a natural material harvested from the bark of oak trees. It cells are elastic and there are thousand of cell in a small area. It grows under the bark of the tree and is removed about every 9 to 10 years. The tree’s life is around 150 years. The older the tree the better the quality of cork produced. Trees used in the production of cork are never damaged, therefore cork flooring is an ecologically sound product, and its use can only increase in the future. Currently 85% of world cork production is from Portugal.FastFloors - Save up to 70% on Cork Flooring

Why is cork flooring considered a natural product?

Natural cork flooring is a natural product because it is the organic product of a plant. The process in making cork tiles or wall coverings calls for natural resins without chemicals, thus cork maintains all its properties. It is a highly ecological product.

WICANDERS cork flooring at the Green Hotel South Africa

 

wicanders cork samples 2 Cork boards were not that good, what makes cork suitable for floors? 

The old cork boards that you are referring to were indeed friable, just good enough to use push pins and a few pictures or papers. Today the quality of process and  the result of new technologies have encouraged designers and architect to take a second look at this amazing material. Due to new technology cork floors are  strong, beautiful, flexible, gentle and warm to the touch, easy to care for and cork floor tiles make a great insulation.

 How are cork tiles produced?

Cork is harvested then turned into a pulp to which natural resins are added, this accounts for the strength of the material. Then the pulp is compressed and formed  into blocks. Colors vary in dependence to the compression process. Cork does not require chemical colors, but some manufacturers do use colorings. You need to  decide on the quality that you buy if some coloring is acceptable to you of if you want an all natural product. Blocks can then be cut to the desired thicknesses.  Thickness depends on the intended use.

WICANDERS Moods Tea

wicanders cork samples 3Wood sometimes shrinks or expands will this happen to a cork floor?

Because cork is compressed then placed in a stabilization chamber to allow excess humidity to dry out, the shrinking or expansion should not happen. The material is stabilized before it is sold, you can expect your cork flooring to be very stable.

 Is cork waterproof?

Cork has been used for thousands of years to “cork” wine bottles, and they never leaked. This said it does not mean that you can use a cork flooring around a  swimming pool, but it is suitable for bathrooms and kitchens, if it is finished properly, as well as any other room in the house. Excessive amount of water would  damage the joints of the cork planks or cork tiles that you use.

 Is cork a good insulation for a cold floor?

When you touch cork, it feels warm naturally. That means that is absorbs ambient temperature and keep it a long time. Any material that has trapped air will  always be a better insulation, cork cells have a lot of trapped air and the process preserves the molecular structure.

wicanders photo 4Photo Wicanders

wicander cork samples 4 What about noise, will a natural cork flooring be as quiet as carpet?

Cork by its composition absorbs noise (again because of trapped air sound does not bounce), this means that normal sounds in the house will be less perceptible.

 Is cork a healthy choice for household with children?

Cork flooring is anti-static, because of this property it does not attract dust as much as some other floor materials, better yet it repels it. It is a natural repellent to  insects and mites, and it is hypo-allergenic. It is very easy to clean with a simple vacuum, or a damp cloth. It is the perfect floor covering for children bedrooms, or  any room in your house whether you have children or not.

 Will a cork floor last a long time?

Cork is by nature very strong and once compressed it has a very high density. The elasticity of the cells insure that it remains flexible. A cork floor will be finished  with a varnish which will protect the surface and prevent dirt from penetrating into the cells. The varnish used by most manufacturers is very resistant, even high    heels will not mark cork flooring as they do wood floors.

cork flooring in a yacht by wicanders

 

 Are the pattern limited and boring?

Cork is a natural material, every cork floor tile or strip that you will get will have variations.

 How difficult is it to install?

There are guides to install your cork flooring for both cork slats and tiles, and by following one of the guides the average do-it-yourselfer can accomplish the task  without problems. Installation does not require any special tools and most manufacturers will provide good instructions.

 Can cork withstand extremes of temperature?

Cork can tolerate temperatures from -292 F to 230 F

 Is is combustible? It is fireproof and does not burn well.

 

Is care complicated?

Care of your cork flooring could not get any easier. A dusting with a vacuum or a soft cloth, a damp mop once in a while constitute all the cleaning you will need. It is naturally resistant to spots whether from spilled liquids like wine or scuff marks from shoes. Simply wash the spots with a damp cloth and it will go away. The only caution should be about direct sunlight which could dull your floor.

What about cost?

It must be said that cork floors are still on the pricey side. It is probably better to look at it from a point of view of value rather than cost, but a cork floor will be a little more expensive to buy. Where you will save money is in the cost of installation. Since it can be done so easily, you may not have to pay a professional and we all know that labor costs add a huge amount to construction or remodeling expenses. You can also buy discount cork flooring in some stores and online in stores like Fastfloors.FastFloors - Save up to 70% on Cork Flooring

Cork flooring prices have already started to come down as more suppliers are enticing customers with great sales. I would encourage you to keep checking sites for offers as it is currently impossible to keep up with cork floor prices.
The advantages of cork flooring are rather evident and I am glad that it is becoming a more popular as prices will continue to drop as demand increases.