5 Green Flooring Options

Learn the pros and cons when you're going green under your feet.

Cork Flooring

Like bamboo, cork is gaining favor among homeowners looking for an alternative to hardwood floors.

Pros:

  • Cork flooring is made from the leftovers of bottle-stopper cork production. That makes it a recycled product as well as a renewable harvest product.
  • Because of the unique cell structure and organic characteristics of cork, it is soft to tread upon, repels dust and bugs, and makes a great thermal and sound insulator.
  • If properly cared for, cork floors can be incredibly durable and long-lasting.
  • Cork flooring comes in a wide range of patterns and in tongue-and-groove panels or 12 x 12-inch tiles.
  • It is as easy to install as linoleum or vinyl tiles.

Cons:

  • By law, the cork oak bark from which the flooring materials are made can only be harvested every nine years, which may limit the availability of the product if demand increases.
  • Almost all cork comes from the area around the Mediterranean, so cork floors probably won't be a local product. Care will be needed when cleaning and after installation; most manufacturers recommend a coating of a water-base polyurethane.

Bottom Line: Cork may not be aesthetically appealing for all homeowners, but it is ideal for kids' areas, hallways and game rooms. Cork is exceptionally environmentally responsible and can provide years of quality service.

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