The secret to cork’s durability and resilience lies in its softness – it yields to pressure, springing back without leaving dents. As cork neither outgasses nor retains allergens, it is an ideal alternative to carpet or vinyl coverings. A perfect example of sustainability, the Cork Oak tree can survive for hundreds of years as only the bark is harvested.
Evolving to withstand the harsh conditions of the Iberian Peninsula, the Mediterranean Cork Oak (Quercus Suber) developed its thick, spongy bark for protection from the forces of nature. Composed of 200 million air cells per cubic inch, this amazing bark protects its tree from fungus and fire, and insulates it against temperature extremes. The cork oak benefits from having its bark (the cork) harvested every 9-15 years. Since the trees go on living for centuries, this symbiotic relationship between people and nature makes cork the ultimate sustainable material.
The largest pieces of the cork bark are used for wine stoppers. The remaining material is sliced and assembled – sometimes by hand – into patterns with the rest ground up and pressed into blocks. The blocks are then sliced to become the basis of cork flooring.
In the past century, cork has been used in architectural masterpieces such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water and Walter Gropius’ residence (both circa 1937), as well as schools, libraries (including the Library of Congress), and art museums. Warm and resilient, cork flooring is perfect for even the most highly-traveled areas. With a properly maintained finish, your cork floor can last for over a hundred years!
Our cork flooring comes from Portugal and the Italian island of Sardinia. With the largest selection in the Bay Area, Flooring Alternatives showcases over 70 different styles and colors.
Cork is an ideal flooring material because it:
- is soft and giving, and will self-heal if dented.
- feels warm even in chilly winter months.
- provides insulation from heat, sound, and impact.
- is resistant to dents, skids, mold, and fire.
- is somewhat moisture resistant due to the waxy residue in the bark.
- can work in kitchens or bathrooms.
- is available in floating panels or glue-down tiles.
- is sealed with wood floor finish and cleaned like a wood floor.
- is great for residential or commercial settings.
- is “post-industrial” recycled from remaining pieces not used for wine stoppers.
- is both beautiful and highly sustainable!
Find out more about this durable and sustainable material in our gallery.
See the swatch samples below for examples of cork flooring we carry. Be sure to visit our showroom to see the new varieties in stock.