Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus suber) and is periodically harvested from the living trees in plantations planted for commercial purposes. Cork is, therefore, a completely natural, recurring, and easily replenishable material. To create flooring products, cork is ground up, compressed, and formed into sheets bonded with resins.
Although cork flooring has been around for many decades, it has recently come into vogue in a major way, due to the fact that it is a “green” renewable resource that can be used without the guilt associated with using fine hardwoods from old-growth forests or tropical rainforests.
Cork is also biodegradable and will break down into the environment at the end of its life cycle.
Cork flooring has many merits, to be sure, and its trendy popularity has led to cork installation almost everywhere in the home. But this flooring is not as durable as some other flooring materials, and it is susceptible to several forms of damage. It is important to understand the underlying characteristics of cork in order to make an informed decision on using it in a specific space.
Costs for cork flooring planks or tiles can run from $2 to $12 per square foot, depending on the thickness of the material, the quality of the cork, and the quality of the finish. Professional installation is fairly economical, adding $1 to $2 per square foot. Nationally, the average cost for covering a 100-square foot room with cork flooring is about $950—or $9.50 per square foot. This is comparable to what a bamboo floor costs, and slightly less than most hardwood flooring. But unlike hardwood or bamboo, installing cork flooring is a fairly easy DIY project, allowing many homeowners to save on professional installation costs.