Getting Corked in the Kitchen: Pros and Cons of Cork Flooring

Cork is a sustainable renewable resource.

The growing interest in all things eco-friendly has propelled cork to the top of the list of flooring materials. Many people are surprised to learn that while its popularity is new, cork isn't a new product in the world of home decor. Used for flooring since the 1900s, cork offers several benefits. One of the most amazing things about cork is the way it's harvested. Cork trees are never cut down in the traditional sense, instead, the bark of the tree is carefully stripped when it reaches maturity and the same tree is harvested many times over its lifetime. Cork is a versatile and interesting material to consider for a kitchen floor, but it's far from perfect.

The Pros

  • Cork is a sustainable, renewable resource everyone can feel good about using. Harvesting cork doesn't require deforestation or harm to the environment.
  • It's naturally beautiful. The crags and valleys that naturally occur in cork create interesting "one-of-a-kind" patterns. Similar to wood, cork is available in several colors and textures.
  • Cork helps you maintain an allergen-free environment. It naturally resists mold, mildew and insects and is easy to clean. Who doesn't want that in the kitchen?
  • It absorbs and retains heat longer than most other products and is the warmest "hard surface" flooring option available.
  • The spongy texture of cork makes it naturally shock absorbent. Not only is that good news for people who drop a lot of dishes on the kitchen floor, but cork will keep you comfortable while standing in front of the stove or sink. 
  • Cork is a resilient material that holds up to foot traffic quite well.
Cork is available in tiles, planks and rolls with a style and color for any type of decor


The Cons
  • Sticker shock! Cork is a high-end material that typically requires professional installation. Sorry, DIYers.
  • Though it is considered water-resistant, cork does absorb liquids that are spilled or dropped. Messes must be cleaned immediately to prevent staining. This can be especially troublesome in the kitchen.
  • Cork is easily marred by pet claws, broken glass, and heavy furniture or stiletto-type shoes.
  • Unlike hardwood, cork can't be sanded and refinished. If they occur, nicks, stains and other damage can't be undone.
  • Cork fades and discolors when exposed to bright light for long periods of time. It may not be a good choice if your kitchen is particularly sunny.

Cork is available in tiles, planks and rolls with a style and color for any type of decor. Even with its limitations, this natural flooring material is highly popular and may increase the desirability and value of your property. With proper care and regular maintenance a cork floor will add beauty to your kitchen for many years to come.


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