Pompano Beach, Fla.—There are a lot of options on the market right now for builders and designers looking for sustainable floors. Recycled wood, reclaimed wood, bamboo and tile with a high recycled content are some common contenders. But what about cork?
Cork is inherently sustainable because it is simply the bark harvested from cork oak trees. You can come back nine years later and re-harvest cork from the same tree. It also has a few traits that make it a good candidate for flooring. First off, the air filled cells inside cork make the material both a comfortable standing surface and a great sound barrier. It is also resistant to termites and microbes.
APC Cork has been taking advantage of this resilient species in their full line of cork floors available for both residential and commercial use. The company makes its floors from the bark that remains after cork is punched out for wine bottle corks. The leftovers are steamed, ground and compressed before being cut and finished with different colors and coats.
While cork floors from APC are attractive and generally tough, there are certain applications that are better than others, especially in the multifamily sector. APC does not recommend the installation of cork flooring in bathrooms because excessive spills and water can cause damage. The acrylic matte varnish that comes on the finished tiles can also be damaged by dog and cat claws, so it might not be the best choice for living rooms in pet friendly buildings.
The kitchen is perhaps the best choice for cork flooring in an apartment. They are comfortable to stand on and easy to maintain. They are also hypoallergenic, and again, sound absorbent, so the tenants downstairs won’t complain when their upstairs neighbor breaks out the food mixer or blender.