Cork Floors. Eco, Stylish, Hypoallergenic. What’s Not to Love?

Check out this tiled looking cork floor. Great for a Man Cave.

How many of you love Candice Olson, of  HGTV’s Divine Designs?  I adore her for good reason. (Okay, I am a groupie and gush at the sound of her name.)  Her designs are full of color, texture, and style.  She can make any room shine. And best yet, we share a common love, cork floors.  Just like Candice, cork is warm, stylish, hard working, and simply divine.  Added bonus.  This flooring is so environmentally friendly.

Want a first hand look? APCOR, which promotes the Portuguese Cork Industry, wants you to actually feel and see how fabulous cork is.  The Decor (k) Tour features  a 53 foot mobile cork showroom designed by Olson.  It contains different room cork arrangements. Check out the gallery on the Real Cork Floors website and tell me this flooring isn’t hip.

In addition, the mobile unit contains displays to educate the public on how cork stands up to moisture, heavy foot traffic, and allergens.  The mobile unit traveled to 14 different cities in the US and Canada.  But there is still time to see the tour.

Just to give you an idea of who is APCOR.  No they are not a manufacturer or a new dealer who sells cork.  The Company represents over 250 members which comprises of 80% of the total national cork production and 85% of all cork exports.

Why cork?

Cork is like a camelion with many different faces.  It can be dressed up in a multitude of colors and style or be as laid back and Earthy with its basic brown natural color. Right down Candice’s aisle. And the fact that cork is renewable and environmentally friendly doesn’t hurt its reputation either.

I Own Cork AND Love it.

The reason why I was so excited to write this article  is I love Cork. I personally own this flooring.  It has been installed in my basement for six years.   Want to see my cork? Check out my cork flooring video of four years ago.  Don’t laugh when you see my really long hair (as my sister says “big hair.”)

FYI, why haven’t you seen this video before?  I made a series of videos years ago about my earth friendly home for Be Jane, a women’s DIY building site.  Unfortunately, they didn’t end up using the content due to a change in management.

Cork is warm, has a cushion, and great for allergies.

You are probably wondering why did I install cork rather than tile or carpet, especially in a basement?  Tile is cold and my kids play in the basement.  I wanted a flooring product that had some cushion so  I did not have to worry if they smacked the heck out of each other.  If they fell, I knew that no one’s teeth or bones would break.    (Yes, boys can be extremely physical.)

As I mentioned in my journey to building green, my kids all have allergies.   This is the main reason why I opted for cork over carpet.  Cork is hypoallergenic.

What I didn’t realize when I install it that I got to say good-bye to static electricity and it really helps to insulate the noise in the basement.   Yep. The commandos can kill each other and I would never know.  (Well, not exactly, but it doesn’t deafen sound.)

What about installing Cork in the basement?

Since the cork is in the basement, I had to put down a vapor barrier (ugh plastic) and a floating cork floor.  The floating floor is comprised of tongue and groove panels with a layer of cork attached to a MDF sub-base. Since my product is almost six years old,  my MDF contained a small amount of formaldehyde.  At the time, there wasn’t a product that I was aware of that was formaldehyde free.  According to APCOR, there now exists formaldehyde free floating floors.

Are your floors cold without carpet?

The floors are warm all year round and easy to care for. Even in the winter, the floor is so much warmer than the tile floor in the basement bathroom.  But, I have to confess.  We have R-10 insulation under the basement slab. I am not sure how this impact the cork.

Does anyone have cork in their basement and live where it is cold?  Is your floor warm?

Now, cork isn’t perfect but close to it.  Here are some of my issues with my floor.

Beware of Water Floods and Floating Panels

Don’t put a floating system anywhere water can get to it since the MDF will shrivel up, and you will be replacing your floor. I had a couple of leaks in the basement from a clogged humidifier to one of my geothermal components that hiccuped. Long story.

The only thing that can take the flooding water issue is concrete itself and tile.  Wood (or an engineered floor) would shrivel up too.  I know. We had a pipe burst during construction and part of my wood floor took the burnt.  Let’s just say, the wood floor looked like it aged 100 years and was exposed to the elements.  It couldn’t be salvaged.

If I could go backwards in time and rebuild my house,  I would have put a drain near all water sources in the basement or maybe put them in a tub like container with a drain in it.  And no, my basement floor was not pitched towards the sump pump.  Again, don’t ask.

Does anyone have cork in their basement? Any issues with leaks?

Finish Doesn’t Always Hold Up

In addition, my finish is not holding up too well since I have commandos running across it daily.  (4 boys.)  You could easily put extra coats on the floor for heavy traffic areas.  My wood floors are scratched too.  Commandos are rough on floors.  Period.

Back to Candice.

When I was approach by APCOR to interview Candice Olson and their company about cork, I jumped (okay leaped) at the chance. I was hoping I could podcast with her or videotape her.   Whatever.   It didn’t matter to me.

I dreamed we chatted about my boring great room,  muse over all the beautifully colored corks, and become bosom buddies.  And before you know, she would be coming for Thanksgiving dinner with the 4 commandos.  Everyone love me so it could happen.

Instead, I got to ask her three questions via email and the Company answered the rest. *Sob, Sob*  But I got three questions answered.  Yep, from the Goddess of Design.

But you have to wait for Candace’s thoughts on green design and the Company’s more indepth interview about why you should love cork as much as me.

Heck, I had to wait a week for her answers.  You can wait until tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of Real Cork Floors.


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