August 10, 2010

Eco-Friendly Flooring Material: Cork

What comes to mind when you think of cork? Wine stoppers, bulletin boards … how about flooring? Homeowners are increasingly placing this material underfoot, partly because it's eco-friendly but that's not the only reason. Cork can be excellent choice if you're looking for comfort, cleanliness, and even color.

Here are some of the benefits of cork flooring:

Environmentally friendly – Grown in the Mediterranean countries of Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, and France, cork is renewable, sustainable, and recyclable. Unlike hardwood flooring, it comes from the bark rather than the trunk, and is harvested without cutting down the tree. The tree then regrows its bark and can live for up to hundreds of years. (To learn more about cork oak forests, visit WWF.)

Clean – Cork is waterproof and contains a natural substance called suberin, which is resistant to mold and mildew and repels insects (no termites!).

Comfortable – Cork is shock-absorbing and can ease back and foot pain in the kitchen. It also insulates against cold, making it a great choice for chilly basements or anywhere else in the house.

Quiet – Cork absorbs sound, so it's ideal for second stories, multi-unit buildings, and homes with boisterous children, pets, or musicians.

Attractive – Don't worry, cork flooring doesn't have to look like a boring old bulletin board! Planks and tiles come in a range of colors, textures, and patterns. Check out the offerings from companies such as APC Cork, Cork Concepts, DuroDesign, EcohausExpanko, and Globus.

Not in the market for an entire floor? You can still bring a little cork into your life with this bath mat from Gaiam or follow Craftynest's lead and make your own from recycled wine corks.

(Images: APC Cork, DuroDesign, Cork Concepts)

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