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The Quirks of Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is hardly new; it's been around for more than 100 years. But it has gained new attention in recent years as more people "go green" when building or renovating a home.

From an environmental perspective, cork is attractive because it is sustainable. As a flooring material, though, cork's appeal goes well beyond its green benefits.

Silence is Golden
If you want to hear less racket from foot traffic, cork is ideal because it compresses when stepped on, resulting in a softer and quieter step. Noise is further reduced because cork also naturally absorbs sound. This benefit can be particularly dramatic if you replace hardwoods on your upper floors with cork flooring. Not only is the sound of footsteps no longer transmitted through the ceiling, but also the drone of TV's and stereos turned up too loud in upstairs bedrooms, phone conversations, and all of the other noises that can filter down.

Soft Landings
Cork doesn't just absorb sound, it also absorbs impact. This makes it a good choice in your kitchen or dining room, particularly if anyone in your family inherited the klutz gene. A glass or plate dropped on a hardwood, tile, or stone floor generally ends up in a million pieces. But if you have cork flooring, dropped dishes are much more likely to survive the fall. You can appreciate this shock absorption even more if you do a lot of cooking because cork flooring makes it more comfortable to be on your feet for long periods of time.

Comfort, Durability, Versatility

Though many types of cork flooring sport a very natural look with visible grains embellished with wood-hued stains, many cork tiles are finished with a top layer of vinyl, which means they can be made to look like anything--even the hardwood or tile that you are replacing. The difference only becomes noticeable when you walk across your cork floor, because cork's natural cushioning ability makes it softer and more comfortable to walk on, and its insulating properties keep it warm underfoot like carpeting. And despite cork being a natural material, it doesn't have the same vulnerabilities to natural pests that wood does. Cork is naturally resistant to mold and mildew, it repels termites and other invasive insects, and it is fire resistant.

Cork flooring offers numerous natural benefits. Being green is just one of them.

About the Author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.

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