More and more, consumers, retailers and wholesalers looking to source quality flooring are looking for balance too. They all want to find practicality and look, measured with environmentally-responsible products and processes. Cork flooring, which has been around for centuries, makes striking this balance very easy indeed. Harvested from the cork oak, particularly in and where the species flourishes, cork flooring stands as a shining example of a renewable source in flooring. The bark of the cork oak is harvested by hand. The process is heavily regulated to protect each individual tree from long-term harm. This means that the source for your cork floor, a flooring alternative that remains to be both decorative and practical for many reasons, is not endangered. Each cork oak tree is harvested on a nine-year rotation. Only mature cork oaks are harvested in order to protect future generations. For a “green” flooring option, cork flooring is worth your attention. And this is before any benefits of aesthetics and practical uses of cork flooring come into play!
How cork is processed for flooring and other products
Once the bark of the cork oak tree is removed with the use of hand-held implements, it is boiled. This allows the bark to become more malleable, easily shaped into a variety of forms. The versatility of cork as a material is thus demonstrated even as it is processed. The primary use for cork is that for which it is literally synonymous – “corks”, for the wine industry, and other similar bottling industries. The cork is pressed into large sheets, and the corks are “punched out”. The remaining cork is ground, and further molded into large blocks. At this point, the cork is baked to further increase its durability. The cork is then cut to standardized sizes, and sorted according to color. The last stage is sealing these cut-down cork pieces with a layer of polyurethane or wax. The cork is then ready for use as flooring, or many other uses.
Nothing Goes to Waste
As you can see, cork flooring stands as a flooring option that is very concerned with the conservation of the species on numerous fronts. Each individual cork oak tree is allowed to reach maturity before it is harvested for its bark. Even then, the bark is not harvested for any length of time less than nine years, to allow appropriate re-growth and general health of the individual cork oak. When the cork oak bark is processed for flooring and other uses, all of the bark is used to the greatest extent possible. The stages which make it a durable flooring option only stands to make its use that much more robust. Increasing the life of the products made from cork means getting the best use out of the natural resource of the bark used to make it. With cork, and with cork flooring, consumers and sellers gain the benefits of quality flooring. Along with this, they also gain the knowledge that their choice in “green” flooring contributes to an ongoing effort in creating renewable products.