Despite its attractive look, durability and rising popularity, there are several distinct disadvantages of cork flooring. First however, let us find out a little about cork.
The Origin of Cork
Cork floors are produced using the bark of the cork oak tree. It is only after the tree is 25 or more years old that the first harvest of the bark takes place. Following this, harvesting occurs about every nine years and every time the bark grows back with a smoother texture. Cork is therefore composed of compressed cork particles bound together by natural and man-made resins.
The lack in variety of colors and floor patterns of natural cork to choose from, when compared to other strong flooring like Linoleum and Vinyl, puts it at a definite disadvantage. Although it can be painted or stained, that creates more work and is an added expense.
Furthermore, depending on how it is coated, the task of refinishing or re-staining cork can be difficult due to the soft, thin nature of the outer layer. This can cause the stain to appear uneven. Cork isn’t as durable as other floors and maintaining it takes a lot of effort as it has to be sealed and re-sealed every few years in order to keep it waterproof and protect it from dirt.
Should the cork not be coated with polyurethane, it may not be water repellant, as other choices such as ceramic tiles. Additionally, in order to keep it waterproof cork flooring requires sealing and maintenance. When we refer to maintenance it means having to use chemical agents which for some means compromising on indoor air quality, thus making it a less attractive choice.
Some individuals who are more sensitive also face the issue with smell of the product, which in this case is the linseed-oil scent. Other factors that make it a disadvantage are that it requires annual stripping and sealing for best performance. Furthermore, in order to protect the quality of indoor air, then low-VOC adhesives should be used when installing linoleum.
Cork is also more expensive when compared to flooring such as Vinyl. It also requires skilled installation and attentive flooring preparation, otherwise irregularities in the floor underneath will be more visible. Meanwhile, some people don’t like the commercial look of linoleum.
There is also the possibility that if it is not coated with a UV resistant coating, it may fade over time with UV and ambient light. It is imperative that a newly installed cork floor should be sealed and finished to obtain a required surface protection, because without it, the floor will deteriorate quickly.
Cork flooring overall has a low resistance to moisture. The exceptions however would be resin reinforced wax cork tile, which can be damp mopped from time to time and ‘vinyl cork tile’ which has a top surface vinyl coating and may be maintained and refinished as vinyl flooring.
The flexibility that is connected with cork flooring is also its weakness. If sharp and heavy objects are left on your floor for long periods of time, there is a risk that it can permanently damage the floor. Items such as furniture and appliances that would be the cause need to have their pressure points placed on padding to protect the floor.
When it comes to cleaning cork floors, you cannot use regular cleaners but a solvent paste wax, which is very time consuming to apply. Alkaline based cleaners, oil, grease and sunlight exposure can cause the floors to get damaged and scratched. Since cork is a natural product, direct sunlight will cause color to fade and age will affect change in color as well.
The warrantees on linoleum are shorter than high quality vinyl and overall such flooring may not be compatible with more traditional home décor, although it is highly compatible with those who opt for modern styles, loft living or any place designed for an industrial look.