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Cork Flooring FAQ's

(Frequently Asked Questions)

About Cork Flooring

What is cork and where does it come from?

Cork is the bark of the cork oak tree (species name: Quercus Suber). The largest collection of cork oaks can be found in the Western Mediterranean Basin, particularly in Portugal's forests called 'Montados'.

Cork bark harvesting is an environmentally friendly and manual process that's done without cutting down or hurting the tree. A tree must be 25 years old before cork is first harvested by skilled workers who carefully strip the outer layer of cork bark with a small hatchet. The bark regrows and subsequent harvestings take place every nine years, between the months of May and July. Cork oak trees can be expected to live upwards of 200 to 250 years, which results in approximately 15-20 harvests during its life span.

How is cork flooring made?

Once the cork bark is stripped from the trees, it's washed, dried, and then bottle stoppers are punched out. In Portugal, the raw material factory's first priority is wine and champagne stoppers. Cork flooring is actually a recycled by-product of cork bottle stoppers! The cork material that's left over is ground up to make other products, like cork flooring.

Cork flooring is made when the ground cork is mixed with resin binders, compressed, and then cut into large sheets. There are two main types of cork flooring construction: SOLID cork tiles and ENGINEERED cork planks.

If you're interested in learning more, check out our Cork Flooring Buying Guide.

What makes cork a good flooring material?

Cork's unique honeycomb-like structure of air-filled cells is suitable for many uses, such as sealing bottles and absorbing sound. A cork cell consists of a flexible compartment surrounded by walls covered with a waxy substance called suberin that repels water and air. Those watertight, flexible 'pockets' of air provide cork with a unique set of inherent benefits that make it a perfect material for flooring:

  • Thermal Insulation - the air-filled cells provide insulation against both heat and cold which helps to keep an optimal floor temperature year-round. That optimal flooring temperature helps to create a more comfortable indoor climate and prevents the need to adjust the thermostat as often. That all adds up to energy cost savings as well.

  • Walking Comfort and Impact Resistance - those flexible cells allow the surface of the cork flooring to compress and then expand again, without damaging the cell structure. This means the flooring actually gives ever so slightly when you apply pressure - either by walking on it or dropping something on it. The softer and more flexible surface is very forgiving on your legs and back and make it an ideal flooring for gyms, yoga and dance studios.

  • Sound Insulation - cork not only provides thermal insulation, but it also provides acoustic insulation. It muffles foot traffic and sound both within and between rooms. Cork flooring is ideal for apartments and condos that are susceptible to outside noise as well as the sound of neighbors walking overhead.

  • Hypoallergenic - that waxy substance that covers cork cell walls makes cork resistant to mold, mildew and insects. So if you're looking for a flooring that doesn't collect and trap those known allergens like synthetic carpet can, cork is a great option for you.

  • Durable and Easy to Maintain - since cork has the ability to bounce back from hard impacts, is very resilient, and highly resistant to allergens, it is a long lasting flooring solution. When properly maintained, cork flooring can last 40 years or more, which is why it's been embraced in well established buildings around the globe. You'll find it in the Harvard Law Library, basilicas in Spain, Microsoft offices, yoga and dance studios, hotels, hospitals and restaurants.


Should I install Floating cork or Glue Down cork floors?

Cork is an ideal flooring choice for any room in your home. But there are a few factors that will determine which installation method is best for each room:

  • the amount of foot traffic in the room
  • the amount of moisture or risk of water spillage in the room
  • the condition of your subfloor


Floating cork flooring seems to dominate the cork flooring market right now and it's easy to see why:

  • The DIY-friendly installation method is simple and fast to install, with less installation requirements.
  • You'll find a larger assortment of colors, patterns and even sizes available in floating cork.
  • Less subfloor prep is necessary with floating floors - they sit on top of your existing subfloor and can be installed over wood, concrete, vinyl, laminate and even grouted tile regardless of its condition, as long as the floor is reasonably level.
  • In general, floating cork floors will work in any room, with the exception of really wet locations. For instance, powder rooms are fine, but bathrooms with showers are better candidates for glue down cork flooring.
  • Floating cork can be installed over radiant heated floors.

FLOATING CORK RECOMMENDED AREAS:

  • Bedroom
  • Living Room & Den
  • Kitchen & Dining Room
  • Office
  • Home Gym or Yoga Studio
  • Basement

HELPFUL HINT: Asking yourself, "where would I put carpet?" is a helpful way to think about where you should install a floating cork floor.

But that doesn't mean that glue down cork doesn't have its place in your home.

  • Cork's unique cellular structure and inherent waxy substance suberin, provides resistance to moisture, mold, mildew and pests so it's water resistant and bouyant (think wine corks and buoys).
  • Glue down cork is ideal for areas of your home with higher traffic and potentially wetter areas like entry way mudrooms, bathrooms with showers and laundry rooms.
  • Glue down installation may require subfloor prep. Solid glue down cork can be adhered to wood or concrete subfloors but they must be level, smooth, and in good condition. Otherwise, irregularities will be visible. They should also be clean and free of grease or wax that could interfere with a good adhesive bond.
  • Glue down cork is not recommended for use with radiant heat.

GLUE DOWN CORK RECOMMENDED AREAS:

  • Bathroom with Shower
  • Laundry Room
  • Kitchen
  • Entry Way or Mud Rooms in Wet Climates


About OUR Cork Flooring

Why Should I Purchase a Cork Floor from Cork Flooring Supply?

All of the cork flooring we offer on corkflooringsupply.com lives up to the highest standards available in flooring today. That starts with socially and environmentally responsible manufacturing practices as well as sustainably sourced materials.  And ends with high quality, healthy and affordable products. 

What we look for in a cork floor is what everyone should be looking for in any flooring product they purchase.  And these are the qualities you can expect from us...

IN OUR MANUFACTURERS:

  • Responsible and trusted manufacturers - Wicanders and Amorim are global leaders in cork products.
  • Sustainably sourced cork from well managed cork oak forests
  • Green production process


AND IN OUR FLOORING:

  • Excellent Construction - whether you're purchasing a solid or engineered cork flooring, you can be assured of a mechanically strong multilayer structure combining state-of-the-art technology with the unique natural properties cork. A prime quality core layer of agglomerated cork provides comfort, noise reduction and warmth. The adhesives and resins used to bind the cork and the structure layers together are safe, non-toxic and do not harm your indoor air environment.

  • High Quality Finishes - we offer cork flooring that will endure in any environment - from residential to commercial, and from light to high traffic areas, we have a floor with a highly resistant finish that will fit your needs.
     
  • Safe / Healthy / NAUF finishes - All of our cork flooring products are subject to the highest standards in indoor air quality.  They come with several certificates from around the world that ensure health and wellbeing, such as North America's GOLD Greenguard, Premium TÜV certification, and an A+ French certification.

  • Trendy, Fashion Forward Styles - expressive floors with style and personality, aligned with the market trends, but still able to endure through time.  You'll find a color or pattern that will complement your personal style - whether that's modern and minimalistic or rustic and cozy. Our neutral color palettes provide a calm and relaxing atmosphere but we also have innovative geometric patterns that will take your space to the next level.

  • Density - our cork floors are constructed with dense layers of condensed cork that not only provides step sound reduction, warmth and comfort, but also strength and durability.  In the case of our engineered cork flooring, you'll also find an insulating cork underlay and a high density fiberboard for additional reinforcement.

  • Quality Veneers - the variety of patterns and colors that you see in cork flooring is achieved with a thin layer of cork, called a veneer layer. The veneer is applied on top of a thicker, strong compressed cork layer to seal and stabilize it. But veneers have gotten a bad rap over the years from manufacturers that use cheap, laminated material.  Our veneers are genuine cork, constructed by combining and inlaying different shapes of natural cork. It's actually quite a labor-intensive (and very cool) process.  Check out this video to see it in action!

  • Warranties - our cork flooring and paneling is constructed with the highest quality components and our manufacturers take pride in their quality control techniques used to ensure the reliability and long life of our products. Our residential warranties range from 10 years to 25 years and commercial warranties range from 5 to 15 years. The finishes have been specially developed to fit the most demanding needs for areas with lighter traffic in from domestic homes to areas with heavy traffic, such as commercial, business or general public spaces. All warranties are valid from the date of purchase and only apply if certain conditions are met: flooring must remain in its original installation location, used exclusively in interior applications, and the care and maintenance instructions must be followed. Pretty standard for a flooring warranty but still worth mentioning!


Overall, you can be assured that we offer high quality cork flooring that was sustainably harvested, constructed with safe adhesives and finishes that don't release toxic chemicals into the air, and that offers exceptional strength and longevity.

How Do Your Cork Floors Promote a Healthy Indoor Environment?

Cork naturally has many healthy benefits. It's hypo-allergenic, resistant to mold and mildew, and anti-microbial.  It is a wonderful flooring solution for those that suffer from allergies but it can also be a safe solution for people with chemical sensitivities - as long as the adhesives and protective finish ingredients are pure and clean.

Our cork products have been certified with several Indoor Air Quality certificates, ensuring that no harmful particles are present:

  • GREENGUARD GOLD: Greenguard North-American certification identifies products that have low chemical emissions, improving the air in which they are used. Our products are certified with the GOLD certification, a stricter criteria that ensures that a product is acceptable for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities.

  • TÜV-PROFiCERT PREMIUM: a trans-national certificate for VOC-emission and air quality, that certifies that a product complies with different national regulations from countries like Germany, Finland, Austria, and North America. In 2018, our flooring manufacturer Amorim was the first flooring company to achieve TÜV certification at its highest level - Premium.

  • FRENCH REGULATION A+: our products have been classified at the highest level (A+) of this French certification that classifies products according to their level of VOC emissions.


What is the Difference Between Cork GO, Essence, and Pure Collections?

The Finishing, Warranty, and Installation method is what differentiates between each of our cork flooring lines:

  • CORK GO is our most budget-friendly, floating floor solution with our WPS (Wear Protect Surface) protective finish, developed for the most demanding domestic areas. It has an improved long life span with a soft touch and carries a 10-year residential warranty. We recommend this line of flooring for bedrooms, family rooms, playrooms, dining rooms and offices.

  • CORK ESSENCE is a floating floor that's perfect for heavier traffic areas in your home. This line of cork flooring is protected with the Xtreme WRT surface finish (Wear Resistance Technology), a high performance varnish (but still safe and non-toxic) based on a ceramic compound for exceptional strength and longevity. The Essence line carries a 15-year residential warranty. We recommend this cork flooring for high traffic areas of your home, or those rooms where more dirt may be tracked in from outside, like entry ways and mudrooms, or hallways directly off of your front and back doors.

  • CORK PURE is our line of glue down cork flooring prefinished with our Xtreme WRT finish (Wear Resistance Technology) perfect for high traffic areas in your home or even moderate traffic in a business or commercial space. The Pure line carries a 15-year residential warranty and a 5-year commercial warranty. And because it's a glue down flooring product, it's recommended for those potentially wetter rooms in your home, like bathrooms with showers, laundry rooms, and mud rooms in wet climates.


Where Can I Find the Installation Instructions for the Cork Flooring Products?

Our installation instructions, repair instructions, brochures, technical data sheets, warranties and maintenance instructions for all of our products can be found in our DOCUMENT DOWNLOADS CENTER.  

How Do I Maintain My Cork Floors and Keep Them Looking New?

Like any flooring surface, there are several things you can do to take care of them, prevent damage and keep them looking new for as long as possible.

Cork floors are easy to maintain! For day-to-day cleaning, sweep up dirt and crumbs with a broom or vacuum on the bare floor setting. Use a damp, but not soaking wet towel or mop for spills. And if a deeper clean is necessary, we recommend a non-toxic pH-neutral cleaner.

If you have pets, keep their nails trimmed and clean up accidents as quickly as possible.

Use felt floor protectors to prevent damage like dents inflicted from heavy furniture, or sliding chairs.

To combat fading from sunlight exposure, use blinds or curtains.

And finally, moving your furniture around from time to time will make fading less noticeable as well as relieve any dents that may have been created by heavy, narrow-legged furniture.

Can Your Cork Floors Be Re-varnished?

Our cork flooring products all come prefinished with eco-friendly and safe finishes that provide protection and durability for many years.

If you wish to refinish our cork flooring, we recommend a range of options and you'll want to consult our Wicanders Auxiliary Product List document in our Document Download Center. Be sure to follow the instructions provided with each product when applying the finish. And refer to our How to Maintain & Care for Wicanders Flooring document, which can also be found in our download center.

About Ordering from Cork Flooring Supply

Will I be charged sales tax for online orders?

Sales tax will be collected if your ship-to address is located in Washington State because Cork Flooring Supply operates out of Seattle, WA. All other areas of the US are exempt from sales tax at this time.

How will you ship my order?

We currently offer three shipping methods: UPS, USPS and Freight LTL. The method of shipping will depend on what you order. We go into great detail about shipping on our SHIPPING INFORMATION page. But if you have questions we don't answer there, please contact us and ask!

Will I be able to estimate shipping before I submit my order?

YES! There are a few methods for determining your shipping cost prior to placing your order:

  • IN YOUR SHOPPING CART: When you've filled your shopping cart and you want to estimate shipping, head to your CART. Above the checkout button, you'll see a button, "Shipping: Click to Estimate". You will be directed to a Shipping Quote page. If you're not logged in, it will ask you to choose your State (from a drop down menu) and ask you to enter your Zip Code. Then you simply click on the "GET ESTIMATE" button.

    screenshot of "Click to Estimate" Shipping

  • UPON CHECKOUT: When you go through the one-page checkout process, and you enter your shipping address, you'll see a "Select Shipping Method" option to the right of your shipping address. Typically there's only one option, but you'll see both the method and the price of shipping your order before you click on 'Submit Order'.

    screenshot of the checkout process showing the 'Select Shipping Method' option on corkflooringsupply.com

  • REQUEST A SHIPPING ESTIMATE: If you scroll down to the footer of our website, you'll see a series of links underneath the "Customer Service" header. Here you'll find a link to our Shipping Estimate Request. Simply fill out and submit this form and we'll get back to you as soon as possible with an estimate.

    screenshot of corkflooringsupply.com showing the 'Shipping Estimate Request' link


Great, but I got an error when I estimated shipping. What now?

We're sorry for the inconvenience! This error message occurs when our website is unable to match your order with a predetermined shipping method. It usually means that the items in your cart combined are too heavy for our parcel carriers (UPS and USPS) or that our shipment booking system for flooring orders chose a carrier that doesn't deliver to your address. NOT TO WORRY - we can manually book the shipment and take your order over the phone. Please call us at 800-674-1157 to complete your order and we'll find you the most cost effective shipping method!

For a shipping estimate for a particular item, for expedited shipping or for any questions regarding shipping, please contact us: 800-674-1157 Monday - Friday 9 am - 6 pm PST or submit our Shipping Estimate Form any time.

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