Cork is the most preferred flooring material since it’s all natural, eco-friendly, resilient, and for its natural aesthetic. Cork is the bark of trees harvested in oak forests dominantly available in the Northern America and Mediterranean region. The cork barks function as the protective layer of the oak tree against varying temperature and extreme conditions.
Compared to other materials, Cork one of the safest because it does not emit any harmful chemical. The cell structure of the cork functions as a natural thermal insulator, great shock absorber, and sound-proofing. It also has the substance called suberin which prevents mold build-up and rotting of the material.
The major problems with cork are moisture control and sunlight exposure. But with the advancement of the technology, options are available to protect the floor against moisture. Some of the products are composed of multiple layers to address the problem with humidity. There are also materials used during the preparation to prevent such problem but increase the cost to install cork flooring.
Average Cost of Cork Flooring
In the market, cork flooring is available in plank and tile forms. The designs are also available in various colors, shading, and patterns. The floor system is expected to last at least 25 years or more with proper installment and maintenance. The average cost is around $1 to $26 per square foot including multi-layered tiles and supplied by manufacturers throughout the country.
Preparation can significantly affect the pricings. Topcoats like polyurethane products are essential to protect the cork flooring and to increase the lifespan of the material while bringing out the natural beauty of the cork. Minwax is a good example of such product which is available at Amazon.
The subfloor preparation is also critical for moisture control and to lessen the need for maintenance. The subfloor must be even, clean and free of voids.Underlayment is necessary to prevent moisture between layers and serves as additional protection. Materials for underlayment cost around $0.04 to $129 per square foot.
- Mode of Installation
The installation of cork floor is categorized as floating or adhered. Floating floors refers to the installment of the material without using glue or nails to the subfloor. Instead, it utilizes an interlocking system such as tongue and groove.
Meanwhile, adhered floors are installed using adhesive and require moldings at the perimeter. Wooden frames are used to flush the elevation of the floor and to protect the edges along the perimeter. The cost for molding is usually around $31 to $65 with a length of 80 to 100 inches while the cost for the adhesive is around $2.8 to $8.89 per tube or $37 to $244 per bucket.
- Installing the Cork Floor System
Floating floors are easier to install in comparison to adhered floors. But for adhered floors, pretreatment of the subfloor and use of underlay are necessary to install the tiles properly.
Based on The Balance, the installation rate for cork products is about less than or equal to $1 per square foot.
Do-it-yourself is also an option for homeowners that have time and want to personalize the design of the floor system. Installation guides provided by the manufacturers are available online and easy to follow. But homeowners are required to invest in tools, time to study the proper procedures and procurement of the materials.
The DIY installation of the cork flooring should be done properly to avoid structural complications later on. The subfloor must be meticulously prepared before the installing the cork flooring. Regardless of the type of subfloor, it must be clean thoroughly, even out by sanding the excess and filling out the voids with adequate pastes.
Once the subfloor is ready, the floating floor needs underlayment to protect layer between the subfloor and the cork flooring. The tongue and groove tiles are easy to put together like a jigsaw puzzle.
The use of glue is optional to increase the connection between tiles. Meanwhile, for the adhesive tiles, it is essential to use water-proofing materials to prevent the glue from moisture.
Another important thing to remember is that there should be a space between the outer perimeter of the cork flooring to the walls. The cork can expand when exposed to moisture which causes the failure of the floor system.
Since the main suppliers of the cork are limited to Northen America and Mediterranean region, shipment of the raw materials can also affect the retail price. Also, retail shops charge additional fees for delivering the material. But free delivery is also available if the customer meets the required minimum volume order.
Shopping for Cork Flooring
The decision to buy the cork material depends on the location and services provided by the retail shops. Homeowners usually go to home depot like Lowe’s to buy their home improvement materials. They sell cork tiles at a price of $2.99 to $5.79 per square foot. But local depot lacks professional or service for installation of the floor system.
Meanwhile, contractors like Lumber Liquidators at Virginia sell the cork materials at $0.99 to $3.69 per square foot and provide installation service for an additional cost. The installation is performed by trained professionals and guarantees the quality of the project.
Online shopping catalog such as FastFloors.com provides very competitive prices for rugs and related products. It is a website that provides a comparison of prices for popular brands and matches the best flooring for the client. Also, membership is available to take advantage of especially the discount and promos.
Note: The price indicated above is the cost for per square foot of the material.
Manufacturers like Wicanders supply innovative cork products with a guarantee and wear warranty. They also provide a broad selection of new designs which can significantly increase the cost of the material. Therefore, direct buying can be an option also to avail the warranty and to receive guaranteed products.
Warranty and Guarantee
The wear warranty has a 25-years residential use and 5-years commercial use. The warranty covers the replacement of the defective product, quality control, maintenance and repair of the floor system. Meanwhile, guarantee assures the quality of the materials and proper installment of the floor system.
The customer should be aware of the coverage of the warranty. Physical damages caused by improper care or accident are typically not included. Also, warranty varies from one shop to another and should be put into consideration.