Cork harvesting commences when the cork tree is around 20-25 years old. After the first stripping of the cork (which is refered to as the virgin cork), the tree will have its bark harvested around every 9 years and the quality of this cork only improves and is at its best around the third to fifth harvest. The intervals between subsequent harvests vary depending on the growth of the cork. Cork is the bark of the Cork Oak tree. The Cork Oak tree, grown predominately in Europe and North Africa, has a life span ranging from 100-250 years. Portugal is the center of the production of cork, delivering about 50% of the world’s cork. The governments of those countries which control a significant percentage of the cork forests including Portugal and Spain have significant penalties for the removal or destruction of cork trees. It is illegal to cut down cork trees in these nations. These governments also offer incentives for re-forestation and preservation of the cork.
Like the production of the raw material, the cork flooring manufacturing methods are also geared towards the protection of our environment. During the manufacturing process of cork flooring, all raw materials are consumed, either for the finished cork flooring product or as an energy source. Cork flooring manufacturing wastes are burned in furnaces which supply the heat to process the cork.
Due to the green significance and financial significance that cork plays in the world, we can be assured that cork will have a consistent presence in our society.
Benefits of Cork Flooring
Cork is Environmentally Friendly: Cork is an all-natural material obtained in a manner that is environmentally sound with no damage to the tree or the local environment.
Cork is Lightweight: Cork is a very lightweight material. Cork is made up of many millions of tiny cells filled with air. Cork weighs less than one-fourth as much as water.
Cork is Resilient: Cork is extremely resilient. Pressure on the cork only compresses the air within the cells. When the pressure is released the cork begins to spring back to its original shape. Unlike other flooring materials, this makes cork flooring a little more forgiving on your joints.
Cork Has The Ability to Repel Moisture: Cork cell walls contain a substance known as suberin, a fatty acid that gives cork extraordinary properties such as being impervious to water and other liquids. This does not mean that your cork flooring will be completely impervious to moisture penetration, this only means that unlike other flooring products cork has a very high resistance to penetration by water. Many cork flooring products are also coated with a premium water-based finish and are highly resistant to water damage and stains.
Cork is a Natural Insulator: The cellular structure of cork makes it a very poor conductor of heat. This gives cork flooring a unique advantage over other flooring products as having wonderful insulating properties. These same properties are why cork is so abundantly used in water coolers, ice chests and cold storage warehouses.
Acoustical Insulation: The ability to conduct sound is dependent on the density of the medium. Because of the cellular makeup of cork, it has a very low density, giving it excellent acoustical insulating properties.
Cork is Hypoallergenic: cork is inherently resistant to molds, mildews, dust, mites and other causes of allergies.
Fire Retardation: Cork is a natural fire retardant and does not release toxic gases during combustion.
Cork Flooring is Soft: Cork flooring is gentle underfoot. The structure of cork creates a warm, comfortable surface.
Cork is Unique: No other flooring product has the same or even comparable properties to cork flooring.
Installation and Maintenance of Cork Flooring
-How is cork flooring installed?
Always follow your manufacturer's installation instructions. Failure to do so will void your warranty.
Cork flooring comes in a variety of ways. Cork planks with tongue and groove joints offer installation in the same manner as installing floating hardwood floors. Cork tiles are installed in a manner much like installing vinyl tiles.
-What kind of sub-flooring is needed?
Cork tiles can be installed directly over concrete or plywood sub-floors. Any other flooring surfaces will need to be removed prior to installation. All sub-flooring must be free and clear of any foreign matter and any cracks, bumps or unleveled areas.
-Is cork flooring installation DIY?
With a little preparedness and your manufacturers instructions, cork flooring installation can be DIY and a very unique and exciting family experience. If you feel a little uncomfortable installing your cork flooring, a reputable flooring installer who you feel comfortable with could easily do the job in very little time.
-Cleaning cork floors
Cork floors can be easily maintained by vacuuming and damp mopping with cleaners approved by your manufacturer.
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Article Added on Thursday, January 25, 2007
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