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Installing Cork Floors in Kitchen

I'm considering installing cork floors in my kitchen. Does anyone have experience with cork flooring? Can you tell me about the plusses & minuses?

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  1. Hey, so am I! I've been researching it a little bit, I would be eager to hear what you've learned so far. As far as I've learned, the pros are:

    - It's softer, so it's more comfortable to stand on for prolonged periods and slightly less likely to break things that are dropped on it.

    - It's made from tree bark, a renewable resource.

    The only con I know of so far stems from the softness: it's more prone to being gouged by sharp objects than a tile floor.

    1. i'll be installing one in the near future.

      do not use the snap together, think pergo, laminates; they are not good for potentially wet environments despite any claims from the maker.

      don't buy a prefinished product. in order to ensure water resistance, the product has to be finished in situ so that the gaps between the tiles will be filled with the sealer. if you buy prefinished, you'll just have to sand off the finish, which is a pain with factory-applied finishes. also, cork is temperature sensitive, so you have to watch the heat generated by sanding; taking off an existing factory finish is even harder given this constraint.

      on the plus side, as noted already, they are comfortable to stand on. they also tend to feel warmer than harder flooring choices. they dampen noise. dropped objects are less likely to break. it's relatively easy to do spot repairs since it's a glue-down tile; just remove the damaged piece, glue down a new one, sand and finish while feathering the repaired finish onto the adjoing tiles. the floor can be refinished several times before it becomes too thin. cork works well with radiant heat as there are no mechanical fasteners.

      on the negative side, they are easier to damage; a dropped knife that lands point down will likely leave a mark that looks like a scratch (cork tends to be somewhat self-sealing; as long as no material is removed, it will close up around the wound - however, water-resistence will remain compromised as the finish is not self-sealing). sharpish objects, knives, pan edges, etc, that strike it at an oblique angle can remove material fairly easily. the soft surface distresses fairly easily from pet claws, chair scuffs, etc. if you don't mind a "worn" patina in relatively short order, it's a good choice. if you like your new stuff to stay pristine for long periods, i'd reconsider. as far as dropped object damage goes, it seems about as durable as floating vinyl installations. heavy objects, refrigerators, etc, tend to sink in over time, leaving dents that won't fully rebound, and making it hard to move the object. you might consider a piece of 1/4" plywood or a sturdy-gauge piece of stainless steel to go under objects like the frig to distribute the weight evenly. as with most natural, organic products, if water gets under it, you're probably hosed.

      we use commercial-grade resilient rubber mats in our kitchen at the main work stations. (not pretty, but they work for us.) our intention is to continue using these mats with the cork floor to protect the places most likely to be damaged.

      1. Thanks for all for your input. I'm choosing between the cork & returning to rubber flooring (Pirelli commercial flooring IIRC -- the stuff you see in airports, hospitals etc) which I had years ago & loved. Easy on feet, easy to clean, warm in winter, cool in summer, forgiving to dropped stuff. The only negative I recall is that it eventually got quite scuffed but I understand there are better, more durable waxes, finishes these days. My hesitation about going back to rubber is the been-there-done-that syndrome. Always tempted by something new & different. LOL

        1. As a RE agent I see a lot of houses. We have a lot of homes that were built in the 50's and many of them have the original cork floors that just keep on going and going. I remember my parents building a home in the 50's in Savannah and having cork floors installed with 4 kids and 4 dogs those floors took a pounding. Cork like hardwoods just keep going and going. I have wood in my kitchen and like it but if I were in market again for new flooring cork is something I certainly would consider.

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          1. re: Candy

            I also grew up with cork floors in the 50s -- LA instead of the East Coast. To us, they were just "floors" -- what do kids know? But I remember my mother wishing for some serious damage or wear so that she could replace them.

            When it was time to wax them, we had a ball skating around on rags to do the polishing. There was never any damage to these hardy floors and she finally bit the bullet and covered them simply because she got tired of them. When my brother and I sold the family home 45+ years later, there they were. Good as new.

            I have bamboo throughout my whole house but would certainly consider cork if/when replacement time comes. They were indestructible.

          2. We had a cork tile floor installed in a kitchen more than 20 years ago (long since moved out) and absolutely loved it. Easy on the back and feet, on anything we dropped, easy to clean, no cons except the color/pattern selection - it hasn't changed in all these years.