Sustainable Flooring: Cork

We've looked recently at the beauty of concrete and reclaimed hardwood. Next up is natural cork.

We’ve looked recently at the beauty of concrete and reclaimed hardwood. Next up is natural cork.

Choosing sustainable flooring

Cork is the natural next step in our short series on sustainable flooring options for your home. We’ve looked already at concrete and reclaimed hardwood.

All three options are ones we consider to be good for occupant health, as well as great at ticking other key boxes: modern, attractive, easy to keep clean, and versatile.

Concrete is the favoured option of many EkoBuilt customers on their ground floor, as the concrete pad that many build on can easily serve as the primary floor surface (and there are tons of finishing options). Both sustainably sourced hardwood and cork are great options for covering that concrete base or for the upper storey of a home.

Of the three options, cork is the easiest on the human form, naturally soft and forgiving. Wood comes next, with concrete last. In all three cases, the surfaces are easily cleaned, and can always have area rugs layered on top for visual interest and added comfort.

Our most recent post was on reclaimed hardwood floors for your home. Learn more.

Why choose cork flooring?

Cork has been having a bit of a moment after first being popular many decades ago. Surprisingly hard wearing and flexible in terms of design options, cork is also supremely sustainable.

Consider this snippet from the Rainforest Alliance on the cork oak tree (which produces almost no waste in the manufacturing process):

Cork oak is unique in its ability to regenerate its outer bark. After a tree reaches 25 years of age, it can be stripped of its cork once every 9 to 12 years without causing damage to the tree. A single cork oak, which lives up to 200 years, can be harvested over 16 times. Learn more.

Rainforest Alliance website

Cork is fantastically hard wearing and very forgiving to walk and stand on. It’s a natural insulator, offering sound absorption and temperature continuity.

It’s a surprisingly resilient surface for flooring and can last for up to forty years when sealed properly. It’s easy to do spot repairs on cork. It has antimicrobial properties and is also fire resistant.

Cork flooring is also a bit of a design chameleon, thanks to the options of laying cork in many hues in strips, planks, or blocks. We’ve shown monochromatic options here, but many home owners and commercial locations will use contrast to bump up visual interest and define smaller areas within larger spaces.

Duro Design out of Montreal is EkoBuilt’s go-to for cork flooring, and they can supply cork in up to 108 different shades. You don’t have to just go with the earthy brown that you might remember from your childhood or have seen in pictures from days gone by.

Cork flooring might not be your thing if you have pets (their claws will damage the floor) or don’t like the idea of having to reseal the floor at intervals. It’s also the most prone to fading from sun exposure over time and does better in rooms protected from direct sun.

An interior with a blue cork floor.
A residential interior with cork flooring by Duro Design out of Montreal.

Planning your sustainable home

If a new home is on your horizon, and you’re interested in all things sustainable, then an EkoBuilt home might be just what you’re looking for.

We offer North America’s most affordable passive house solution, which means we also offer the best net zero home solution (a passive home is the fastest, most affordable way to go net zero).

Learn about our floorplans and passive house kit, which we ship across Canada and the US. We also handle whole home builds in our home patch of Ottawa, Canada. Give us a shout!

Poster for EkoBuilt's passive house webinar series for home owners
Get your questions answered at our next webinar!

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