Is Cork Flooring Right For Your Home? (Pros, Cons & Everything You Need To Know)

Kenneth Wilson

With its easy maintenance, comfortable underfoot feel, and sound absorption properties, cork flooring is a favorite choice for many homeowners. This flooring material has been around for many years. Fortunately, it had been a crowd-favorite because of its durability, easy cleaning, and cost-effectiveness.

That said, it’s crucial to understand the benefits and drawbacks of cork flooring to determine if it’s the best choice for your next home improvement project.

Cork Flooring Average Costs

On average, cork flooring starts from $3 to $13 per square foot. The cost will vary depending on the material’s thickness, finish, and cork quality.

If you opt to have it installed by a professional, expect the costs per sq ft to increase by $2. Hence, the average estimate (material and professional installation) runs from $5 to $15 per square foot.

In installing cork floors in a 100-square foot room, it may cost you a total of $950. Since cork flooring installation can be an easy DIY project, several handy homeowners opt to have a go at it themselves.

Why Choose Cork Flooring?

Aside from the natural benefits of cork floors, you might find it a wonderful surprise to know several stunning varieties are now on the market. (Related: The Best Types Of Kitchen Flooring For Your Needs)

Advancements in technology made commercial cork floors mimic the look of hardwood or marble while keeping the plenty of benefits of cork material.

Advantages of Cork Flooring

Regardless of your budget or style, there are suitable solid cork floors that can freshen up the look of your home. Aside from improved aesthetic appeal, you can expect other benefits such as:

  • Easy Installation: Cork floors are available in standard floor tiles and planks for your convenience.
  • Easy Maintenance: After sealing the material with polyurethane, cork floors can look stunning for many years to come. The textural pattern of the cork effectively conceals minor marks and stains. Most homeowners only need to vacuum their floors regularly or clean any dust with a damp mop to remove any heavy stains. Doing so will keep your cork floors at their prime. Pro tip: Adding felt pads on the feet of your furniture may extend the lifespan of your cork tiles.
  • Hypoallergenic: Since cork floors are naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and termites, you can count on this material to be hypoallergenic. There are antimicrobial cork planks available in the market today. This material does not off-gas or shed microfibers that may negatively affect indoor air quality.
  • Comfortable Underfoot: Many consider cork as a great flooring material for their home. It is comfortable to walk and stand on even for a long time. This feature makes it suitable for long-traffic areas such as laundry rooms or kitchens. Additionally, new cork floors can keep your feet warm. You won’t need to wear socks or slippers around the house to avoid the direct contact of cold floors. Cork can remain at room temperature, feeling warm to the touch.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Homeowners looking for green alternatives can benefit from cork flooring. This eco-friendly, sustainable wood flooring material is derived from the bark of cork oak trees. Hence, it can be sustainably harvested multiple times.
  • Safe Flooring Material: Cork is fire-resistant. As such, it will only ignite or melt when exposed to extremely high temperatures. Compared to vinyl floors, cork also gives off less smoke and releases less toxic fumes.
  • Aesthetically Versatile: Commercial cork floors come in different colors, sizes, and styles. If you want seamless floors, you can use cork planks to achieve this result. Other homeowners use tile in alternating colors to achieve a more non-traditional floor. Possible designs include exotic wood grains such as tiger maple or various stone striations of granite or marble. That said, you can count on cork tiles to blend with most interior styles.
  • Noise Reduction: The acoustic properties of cork floors eliminate echoing problems in your home. The pitter-pattern of foot traffic becomes less loud! Cork floors are recommended for bathrooms, bedrooms, and laundry rooms (areas with typical heavy foot traffic).
  • Highly Durable: Cork floors offer excellent durability than other standard flooring materials. For instance, minor dents usually fill themselves in again after some time. As such, you won’t need to deal with the hassle of floor refinishing.

Disadvantages of Cork Flooring

Let’s discuss the cons of cork flooring at home and some expert-backed tips on dealing with these problems accordingly.

  • Prone to pet scratches: Unfortunately, cork floors are highly vulnerable to cat and dog nail scratches. How to offset this problem: Opt to keep your pet’s nails trimmed.
  • Heavy furniture may leave permanent divots: Heavy appliances or furniture pieces may leave behind permanent divots in your cork floors. How to offset this problem: Use furniture coasters or move the more oversized appliances/furniture on support pieces, such as flat wooden boards.
  • Possible discoloration: If your cork floors are exposed to direct sunlight daily, discoloration may occur. As a result, a particular floor patch may have a different hue than the rest. How to offset this problem: As much as possible, block sunlight using curtains and blinds. Doing so will need constant vigilance on your end.
  • Refinishing is not possible on engineered cork flooring: Engineered cork floors have a relatively thin cork layer, so they can’t be refinished. Don’t worry. It’s still possible to refinish the surface of standard cork floors periodically. Doing so gives your floors a fresh new look.
  • Cork floors may discolor or warp: Sealing products are not perfect. So if a room with cork floors gets flooded, it’s only natural for the cork material to discolor and warp. Exposure to high humidity may also cause the cork to curl or plump. As a result, the tiles may pop out, or the planks may buckle.
  • Glue-Down Cork Installation is challenging: Heads up, glue-down cork floors are not the most accessible flooring material to install. You will need to ensure level subfloors and underlayment first. Additionally, working with adhesives can turn into a messy situation. Even the most minor mistakes may be costly.
  • Staining may give an uneven appearance: Cork flooring texture is often accentuated through staining. Note that this may only become an issue if you stain the floors after installation. How to offset this problem: Simply purchase prefinished cork planks to avoid dealing with this disadvantage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is cork flooring suitable for kitchens and bathrooms?

Cork flooring is suitable for all rooms at home. Kitchens are one of the most common rooms where cork is installed because it is easy to clean, maintain, and stand on. It also makes an excellent warm underfoot for bathrooms.

Can I install cork floors in the basement?

It is recommended for you to install the cork floating floors in basements. For your convenience, floating floors must be placed over a moisture barrier due to the risk of high moisture levels on concrete slabs.

Is the color of all cork flooring consistent?

Cork flooring is considered natural and high-quality material. Whether cork, bamboo, or wood, most natural flooring materials have some shaded variations for you to consider.

Can cork floors be dyed or stained with specific colors?

Yes, your cork floor can be stained in any color you desire. Although, it is only possible on cork floors that do not have a surface finish (such as urethane or wax). Ideally, use a water-based stain and apply using a sponge or soft cloth. Allow enough time for the color to cure before applying three coats of water-based urethane.

Kenneth Wilson
January 18, 2022
Contractor Tips, Flooring

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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