Cork flooring is not a popular choice for many homes, yet. It does have some distinct advantages though, and is worth checking out in greater detail. Just because it isn’t as popular as luxury vinyl planks or engineered hardwood floors, doesn’t mean it isn’t right for you.
The Best Cork Flooring Brands
- 1 The Best Cork Flooring Brands
- 2 Cork Flooring Cost – Is it Worth the Price?
- 3 Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Right Cork Floor Option for You
- 4 Reviews of the Best Cork Flooring Brands
- 5 Cork Flooring Pros and Cons
- 6 Care and Maintenance for Cork Floors
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Conclusion
Because cork isn’t as popular as other flooring types, the dedicated brands are fewer, making it easier to browse and decide. The best brands with cork flooring options are listed here.
- Heritage Mill Flooring. Affordable and durable, the cork tiles are unique and comfortable.
- WE Cork. Service, selection and long-lasting planks to match any décor.
- Globus Cork. Specializing in multiple styles and textures, you are sure to find a match for your needs.
- Wicanders. A company that doesn’t just stop with floors. They have cork for any need or situation.
Cork Flooring Cost – Is it Worth the Price?
Cork flooring has a lot of advantages, such as being hypoallergenic, soft underfoot and a whole lot more. Further below we have a detailed section on all the pros and cons of cork flooring for you.
Cork is also generally affordable. You will need to do a little digging to match quality, value, cost and décor, but it can be done. For the most part, cork floors price similar to carpet or laminate planks.
For the most part, whichever end of the spectrum you choose, or even if you find yourself somewhere in the middle, you can expect a great looking floor at a price you can afford.
The simple DIY install also allows you to save money (if you wish) by eliminating professional installer charges.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Right Cork Floor Option for You
Cork Floor Type
There are two accepted types of cork flooring. The more affordable type is known as Floating Cork Flooring. These planks are easier to install, seal tighter and can be water-resistant. They are cheaper, and they are a slightly stronger plank.
The other option is called Cork Tile. These tiles are still easy to install though they aren’t as flexible as the floating planks. They are barely more expensive (installation does add more to the cost compared to the floating options).
The tiles also require a sealant to make the tiles sturdy, water-resistant, and closes any larger gaps. It is a wise idea to also seal the planks, but it isn’t a requirement. However, sealant is also a DIY project, if you don’t want to pay a professional installer.
As mentioned above, sealant is often needed when installing cork flooring. There are other tools and items that you may need.
Moisture is one of the biggest threats to cork. As a natural material, it will absorb moisture and can swell, crack or break apart. Moisture barriers beneath the underlayment are recommended when installing floating planks or tiles over concrete subfloors.
Cork is a suitable floor option in many instances. However, it may not be the best option for large spaces. Up to 800 or 1000 square feet is fine, buy beyond that, you need transition molding or some other separation factor.
However, this usually isn’t an issue as cork shouldn’t be installed in several areas of the home. These areas include the bathrooms, laundry areas or other wet areas.
When you are looking at new flooring, the room you need to install the flooring in is something to consider. Wet areas should be avoided. This includes the rooms listed above, but also should extend to basements and even kitchens.
Kitchens themselves are on a case by case basis. However, anywhere there is running water poses danger to your floors. A burst pipe under the kitchen sink, for example, can make the cork near the sink degenerate and give you costly repair bills.
There are two types of installation options available for you. The first option is a professional installation.
If you go the professional route, make sure to get at least three quotes for the install. You will want to ask questions and make sure the quote covers everything you need, install, sealing, debris removal, etc.
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The other option is a DIY install. You will need to make sure you purchase enough flooring, and get all the extra materials prior to starting. DIY installation can save you money.
The warranty is important as well. Most warranties will cover the planks or tiles up to the installation time. Once the floor is installed most of the warranty coverage will stop. While the finish, sealant or even the underlayment may still be covered, the tiles and planks likely won’t.
Another consideration that will come up is the cost of the flooring and installation. For the most part you can expect to pay for everything by the square foot. While the cost of the installation or sealing may vary, the cost of the cork is more regulated and uniform.
Reviews of the Best Cork Flooring Brands
Below are the best cork flooring brands, reviewed and compared for your perusal. Scroll though the list and find the brand that offers the flooring solutions that fit your style and needs.
Heritage Mill Flooring has some of the most luxurious floors around. Their stable consists of hardwood, engineered hardwood and engineered cork floors. They also have cork wall tiles, if you want to expand your décor even further.
The cork flooring planks are a simple interlocking DIY install that comes prefinished. All you need to do is place the planks down and then seal them when you finish the room. The affordable planks give your room a warmth and glow that no other floor type can offer.
The planks are also quite thick, with a 13/32-inch thickness, you can refinish them a few times before the wear starts to show.
Unfortunately, their choices are slim. You can choose from Bronzed Fossil, Dark Exotic or Natural Fossil. The fossil styles are a more natural appearing cork, with a lighter shade and darker shade that resemble more of what you expect when you hear the term cork.
The Dark Exotic has a lot of dark tones as you would expect and once installed gives off a vibrant and daring look. The orange tones and black tones mesh well together to bring a new ambiance to your room.
Best Feature: Most durable planks on the market
Biggest Downside: Only three options to choose from
If you are looking for versatility as well as selection, WE Cork has you covered, literally. They not only offer you cork flooring options, but wall tiles, stoppers, underlayments and anything else cork-related you may find yourself in need of.
The Classic collection features three shades of glue down tiles or planks that fit any style and budget. They are also well known for their Corkoleum collection, which may be the easiest install ever.
Corkoleum is a roll of cork instead of individual tiles. You can glue the cork and unroll as you go, finishing off the room in record time.
For more selection, though, the floating cork flooring solutions give you a much wider range of options to pick through. The Avant Garde collection has stunning details and colors that will wow you every time you see it.
Serenity and Timeless line-ups offer classic cork styles and colors as well as a host of colors that soothe and give a relaxing warmth to any room. You can also choose from their Economical collection, to find pieces that are sustainable, environmentally sound and highly affordable.
The WE Cork tiles and planks come in all shapes and sizes, but you will find that most of all of the collections are 3/16-inch thick, which is durable, but won’t go through as many refinishing cycles as Heritage Mill tiles can.
Best Feature: One of the overall largest selections of styles and colors
Biggest Downside: Among the thinnest planks and tiles on this list
Globus Cork sells all of their flooring materials from their New York headquarters. Through their factory, though, comes the largest and most expansive collection of cork flooring available.
Not only do they dwarf everyone in color selection (with over 40 different colors, currently), but in styles as well. Each year, they add new colors and designs to their list, too, so it is always current with modern trends.
If that isn’t enough, they also sell cork tiles and planks in different shapes. Tired of squares and rectangles? No problem. Globus Cork offers triangles and hexagons, too.
What is the biggest draw and surprise, though, is that Globus will also customize any order (with a 300 square foot minimum purchase). You can make your own shape, color or sized plank or tile to fit whatever you want. It is even possible to get a single tile made for your whole room (though shipping and installation would be a nightmare, we don’t recommend you try it).
If you want the features, the Eco-friendly nature (glue down options, for example have 0 VOCs and are LEED certified), then Globus is the answer you are looking for.
Best Feature: Customizable shapes, sizes and colors
Biggest Downside: Among the most expensive cork in the industry
Wicanders cork flooring comes in two basic styles, Go and Essence. The cork Go line features 20 designs that are made to impress, have DIY installs and offer a 10-year full warranty, which is one of the best in the business.
These affordable tiles are simple to maintain and come in a variety of colors. Best of all, they can also be installed with radiant heating (most options).
The Essence line is designed for both residential and commercial applications in mind. Provided your business doesn’t have a ton of daily foot-traffic, you won’t have much to worry about other than general care and maintenance.
The Essence line quadruples the selection, offering over 60 colors and styles. All of the planks are 3/16-inch thick, giving you enough durability to last and a few resurfacing cycles, if needed.
Wicanders is found in a lot of retail outlets, but not all of them. Some areas of the country may find it hard to find local distributors. If you are worried about this, there is a store or distributor locator on the website, so you can see where the closest option is.
Best Feature: Best warranties for cork floors
Biggest Downside: May not be easy to find in your area
Cork Flooring Pros and Cons
Cork does have a lot of advantages over other flooring types. However, it also has some potential downsides. Below, we cover the good and the bad so you can make a better informed decision about cork flooring for yourself.
Benefits of Cork Flooring
Cork has a lot of things going for it. The good things make it stand out as an optimal floor solution and are worth noting.
- Hypoallergenic. Because cork is made from bark, it is a natural substance and organically hypoallergenic.
- Antimicrobial and Eco-friendly. As a naturally sustainable resource, the bark cork is made from grows quickly. Much like bamboo, cork is naturally antimicrobial and is resistant to molds and mildews.
- Cork can be refinished. Unlike laminate or LVP, cork can have its lighter scratches and scuffs buffed out and refinished to maintain a like-new appearance.
- DIY install. Cork planks and tiles are simple enough to install that you can avoid having to pay a professional. While they aren’t as easy as LVP, cork is still simple enough for a first time floor installer to handle.
- Soft underfoot. Arguably the biggest draw is the comfortable, soft feeling you get when walking on cork flooring. There is plenty of give and spring to keep your bare feet cushioned at all times.
- Great insulation. Cork is naturally insulated. It will repel both heat and cold to maintain a comfortable temperature year round.
Disadvantages of Cork Flooring
Like most flooring, though, cork isn’t without its downsides. Let’s have a look at the negatives so we can make a better decision in the end.
- Cork is easily damaged. The biggest downside, by far, is that cork is susceptible to damage easily. More so than even laminate, cork can be scratched by almost anything, even pet paws or dragging toys.
- Dents and divots. Furniture, chairs, and even your workout equipment can leave dents or divots behind. If you don’t plan to ever move your couch, this may not be an issue, otherwise, you might need to consider replacement planks.
- Must be sealed. Regardless of brand, style or type, once installed all cork floors need to be sealed against water. This is an added cost that you must account for during purchase.
- Easily fades. Cork in direct sunlight (near an open window or door, for example) does fade quicker than most other flooring.
Care and Maintenance for Cork Floors
Care and maintenance of cork is both simple and difficult. It depends on the care that is needed. When you first install the floor, you will need to seal the tiles or planks. You should use several layers of sealant, allowing each to dry completely.
Combined with the sweeping and mopping, your cork floors will remain looking great for some time.
Eventually, though, scratches will develop. Either from children, your pets, or even moving furniture around. The good news is that most cork floors can be refinished. The process is tedious and takes some care and time (the difficult part).
The idea is that you sand down the scratches or damage past their deepest part and re-level the top of the plank or tile. Once the damaged area is gone you need to reseal the top layer. Like engineered hardwood, this process can be performed several times. The thickness of your cork tiles, though, will determine how many times you can resurface them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now, we will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about cork flooring and the brands that produce them. If you have further questions, please use the comment section below the article.
Q. Is it better to hire a professional installer for cork flooring?
- DIY or professional installation is a judgment call here. Unlike carpeting which almost always requires a professional, you can install cork tiles and planks fairly easily.
The main problem comes in with knowing how much to purchase, if you need an underlayment or moisture barrier and how to apply the sealant properly.
If you are comfortable with your math skills sto buy the right amount (and a little extra) as well as perform the steps needed to properly install the flooring, you can save quite a bit of money doing it yourself. However, if any step in the process makes you uncomfortable, it is best to hire a professional.
Q. How do I know good cork flooring compared to bad?
- Price is generally going to be the tell-tale sign of the varying qualities. With lower quality tiles costing much less than high-quality ones. However, this isn’t the only way to tell.
You also want to look at the thickness of the planks or tiles. Thicker tiles are stronger, more durable and capable of being refinished, if needed. The warranty coverage, too, can help you determine which end of the quality spectrum the planks fall on. Better coverage usually equates to higher-quality.
Q. If cork comes from tree bark, why isn’t it waterproof?
- Cork is a natural fiber material. Like bamboo (which is a grass) it absorbs moisture and water at a high rate. This absorption causes the material to sell, bow, pop and even crack. If the humidity is too high, the floor floods or there isn’t ample sealant, you can lose planks and tiles because of the water.
Q. Can I install cork floors in a finished basement?
- Technically, you can install cork flooring anywhere. The same can be said for carpeting. You just won’t want to. If you are finishing a basement to use as a bedroom or living space, you don’t want the concrete foundation to be the floor.
As long as you are above the watershed, and the humidity in the basement is controlled, cork can do just fine. You need to seal it with more layers of sealant than normal and provide a moisture barrier as well as underlayment first, though.
Any additional moisture a basement creates, either through temperature controls or humidity can cause damage to cork, which is why it is generally recommended against basement installs.
Cork flooring is a trendy, comfortable flooring solution. It isn’t for everyone, or for every home. However, if you want the softest, easily maintained floor around, cork is the answer.
This article gave you all the tools you need to arm yourself with when making your purchasing decision. We also covered the best cork flooring brands on the market. Hopefully, you know now what you need and where to go to get it. Enjoy your new cork floor!