Posted September 04, 2013 by Gabriel Posternak

Cork: A Guide

So you are remodeling your home and are looking for eco-friendly materials. One you can’t go wrong with is cork. Not only is it affordable, durable, and sustainable, but it is also attractive and incredibly versatile.

What is Cork?

Cork is actually part of the bark of the Cork Oak, which grows in Europe, Portugal, and northwest Africa. The bark is removed from the tree from May to August. During this time, removing the bark from the tree doesn’t cause the tree much damage. The tree’s bark cannot be harvested until the tree has reached 25 years old. Once it reaches 25, the cork can be harvested every nine to ten years. It is the abundance of Cork Oak trees and the ability for the cork to regrow without damaging the tree that makes it sustainable. Additionally, harvesting processes have been improved to reduce environmental impact.

Using Cork for Green Home Remodeling

There are actually a surprising number of ways to use cork in your home. In fact, it’s one of the most user-friendly and aesthetically appealing eco-friendly materials. Here are just a few ways you might use cork during your green remodel.

Cork Flooring – Cork is waterproof. This characteristic makes it impermeable to messes. It also makes your floor mold and mildew resistant. You can find cork tiles, sheets of cork which are used much like linoleum, and cement flooring that is mixed with cork. You can also find cork flooring that can be installed tongue and groove or peel and stick squares so you can create a pattern on your floor. It has great thermal properties too. In fact, it’s used as a heat shield in spacecraft and is not flammable, which makes it a safe material as well. It’s beautiful too. You can varnish cork flooring to give it a nice sheen.

Cork Walls – Like flooring, you can use cork tiles and sheets to decorate your walls. It’s a nice way to add texture to your home and to create a warm and functional atmosphere. It also provides a bit of soundproofing, which makes it great for home offices and other rooms where you want a bit of quiet.

Accessories and More – Cork is durable and quite stable. You can find cork furniture, cork baskets, and even bowls and dishes that are made from cork. Because of its thermal properties many serving dishes are wrapped in cork.

Not all cork is created equally though. Some cork products have added chemicals and compounds that can make them unhealthy since they emit VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Make sure to compare products and buy your eco-friendly materials from a trusted retailer.

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