Category Archives: Flooring

The Latest (and Best) Sustainable Building Materials

As a retailer of green and sustainable building materials, we see and hear about plenty of new products every year. But what innovative products made our “best of” list for 2021?

The latest and greatest Sustainable Building Products - Greenhome Solutions's Top Pick of the Year and Beyond. Images include a dog chewing a toy on a Wicanders Cork Floor, a second image of a close-up of Valinge Hardened Wood Flooring with a small puddle of water and little surfer action figures, and a third image of a kitchen with a butcher block island counter and 3 bar chairs.

You may be wondering what makes a building material sustainable?  So before we jump into the list, we should clarify what words like “Sustainable” and “Green” mean in the world of building products. 

What Are Green or Sustainable Building Materials?

There are many features that combine to make a building “green”, including energy efficiency and the reduction of demolition waste, for example. Using environmentally responsible construction materials is just one component of the green building process, but it’s an important one. One main goal of green building is to minimize the impact of the building project on the environment and human health. So the materials used should do the same. In fact, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, materials should go a step further. Not only reduce that impact, but also “regenerate the natural and social environments from which they originate.” Reusing materials is an ideal example of this. So is using sustainable, planet-friendly materials that are:

  • Sustainably Grown – Decking and Siding from FSC-Certified forests
  • Locally Harvested – Butcher Block surfaces made from Pacific Northwest wood species
  • Made from Rapidly Renewable Materials – Bamboo and Cork Flooring
  • Made from Recycled Materials – PaperStone is a countertop made from recycled paper
  • Non-Toxic – Flooring and Cabinets manufactured without formaldehyde-containing adhesives and finishes
  • Reusable and/or Recyclable
  • Biodegradable
  • Durable, Long Lasting
Examples of Green Building Materials from left to right: Kebony Siding shown on The Burke Museum in Seattle, WA, Marmoleum Flooring in a Yellow and White tile scheme in a kitchen, and PaperStone countertop in Slate.
Examples of Sustainable Materials (left to right): Kebony Cladding at The Burke Museum of Natural History [Courtesy of Kebony® – Photo by Ben Roberts] / Marmoleum Flooring / PaperStone Recycled Paper Countertops [Courtesy of PaperStone®]

Why Should We Care about Sustainable Materials?

Before the pandemic, it was estimated that people spend up to 90% of their time indoors. At the end of 2021, many of us are still spending the majority of that time in our own homes. And “pandemic projects” like room additions, backyard offices, and kitchen renovations – all inspired by the need for multitasking rooms – haven’t slowed down. Rooms need to host a variety of activities since we’re essentially relaxing, eating, learning, working, and entertaining in the same space.

Connection between health and indoor air quality

More people are becoming aware of the correlation between poor health and poor indoor air quality (IAQ) due to volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Considering how much time we spend indoors, it’s vital to do whatever we can to breathe the cleanest air possible. And there are many factors that contribute to the quality of indoor air – it’s a complex issue. A properly designed ventilation system and the reduction of indoor moisture levels are both important for good IAQ. But for the purposes of this discussion, we’re focusing on building materials and finish products which are also important potential sources of pollutants.

The fact is that most building materials emit gases throughout the life of the material. Some of them are toxic pollutants, including formaldehyde, which is a VOC that can be found in synthetic materials like carpets, vinyl flooring, and flooring adhesives and finishes. Paint is another finish material that has a tendency to be high in VOCs. Exposure to those chemicals inside your home can negatively affect your health, comfort, and ability to work. That’s why choosing non-toxic materials matter. If you want to enhance the quality of your indoor air, choose materials with zero or low VOC emissions. In other words, choose the least toxic materials. Search for natural and sustainable materials with the same positive characteristics as some of the higher VOC products, but without the harmful effects on the planet and our health.

Considering how much time we spend indoors, it’s vital to do whatever we can to breathe the cleanest air possible.

 

Benefits of Sustainable Building Materials

We like to say that what’s good for our planet is also good for our health. Sustainable building materials enhance the quality of your indoor air which in turn has a positive impact on your health, wellness, and comfort. But there are other benefits to building with sustainability in mind:

  • AFFORDABILITY – Rising popularity in greener materials have resulted in a wider selection of products and lower prices. So sustainable doesn’t automatically mean more expensive.
     
  • DURABILITY – A big part of sustainability is longevity. Materials considered sustainable and green last longer because they’re durable. A good example is solid hardwood flooring. They add value to the home because they’re meant to last a lifetime.
     
  • REFLECTS YOUR VALUES – Our homes and spaces are reflections of who we are. If you value the health of our planet, investing in sustainable building materials essentially puts your money where your values are.
     
  • CONNECTION TO NATURE – If you’re someone looking to bring the outdoors in, natural materials such as cork and wood provide warmth and comfort in addition to that feeling of being more connected to nature.
     
  • LOWER UTILITY COSTS – A benefit of one of our favorite sustainable materials, cork, is its natural thermal insulation properties. Thermal insulation works to create a barrier between cold concrete subfloors and your comfy indoor temperature. And bonus – we’ve noticed the added benefit of lower utility costs because of it.

OUR FAVORITE SUSTAINABLE BUILDING MATERIALS OF THE YEAR

Now that you’re all in on green building materials, let’s find out what products we’ve discovered that have our customers raving…

Valinge Hardened Wood Flooring with Woodura is one of our favorite sustainable building materials this year - available at Greenhome Solutions. Image of a close-up of Valinge Hardened Wood Flooring with a small puddle of water and little surfer action figures, an image of the flooring in a honey color with a wood chair and a leather pouf, and an image of a carton of the flooring.

Välinge Hardened Wood Flooring

From Sweden comes an innovative new hardwood flooring product that’s not only water-resistant, but also 3 times stronger than traditional wood flooring. Valinge is best known for their locking flooring installation systems. In fact, it’s their 5G® Dry™ fold down glueless locking system that also provides the flooring’s water resistance.

Some other things we like about Valinge Hardened Wood Flooring:

  • 100% Real Wood – Ash, Oak or Walnut with natural imperfections, knots and streaks. No vinyl printed “wood looks”
  • Stronger Impact Resistance – The wood layer is hardened by high pressure and temperature. And gives the flooring major dent & gouge resistance that outperforms traditional solid and engineered hardwood floors.
  • Wide and Even Wider Planks – Valinge’s hardwood planks are currently available in a 8 1/4″ width and (coming soon) in a 10 3/4″ width. Plus, no random lengths – each plank is over 7′ long.
  • Affordable – we like that this is a real wood flooring product for significantly less than traditional engineered or solid wood flooring.
  • Floor & Wall Applications – OK, trust us, this is cool. They offer an install system that coverts flooring to wall covering without glue!
Valinge Hardened Wood Flooring in Mineral Grey Oak (a brownish-grey color) shown on the floor as well as on the wall encasing a gas fireplace insert. Demonstrating their installation system for converting flooring to wall covering.
Make your floor climb the wall with Valinge’s 5G® Climb™ system (shown in Mineral Grey Oak)

SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR: This engineered hardwood flooring is made with 100% real wood from responsibly managed forests, which is then manufactured nearby. Their Woodura technology maximizes the floor surface from every log. By using sliced wood instead of solid wood, 10 times more flooring can be produced from the same amount of lumber compared to traditional engineered wood flooring. And 30 times more flooring compared to solid wood flooring.

Butcher Block solid wood surfaces are one of our favorite sustainable building materials this year. Shown in Pacific Madrone. Courtesy of Targa Homes - Photo by Cora Brown Rock.
Pacific Madrone Butcher Block. Courtesy of Targa Homes – Photo by Cora Brown Rock

Stocked Butcher Block Surfaces

OK, so butcher block isn’t exactly new. Solid wood surfaces have been around for a very long time. The big news about our butcher block is that we’re now stocking ready-made slabs in popular countertop sizes! There’s nothing like warm, natural wood to cozy up a room.

Some other things we love about our butcher block:

  • Pacific Northwest Wood – Local to our region, our butcher block is made from sustainably harvested wood species. They include Douglas Fir, Big Leaf Maple, Pacific Madrone, Myrtlewood, and Tanoak.
  • Stocked in Common Countertop Dimensions – available in two widths and several lengths: 4′, 6′, 8′ or 12′
  • Finishing – Our slabs come unfinished and sanded to 120-grit finish with square edges.
  • Custom Sizes and Finishing Available – We still offer our full line of butcher block surfaces, including plank-style, end-grain, and custom widths, thicknesses and lengths. Perfect for all kinds of applications, like table tops, kitchen islands, bathroom vanities and shelving.

SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR: Our butcher block is manufactured from Pacific Northwest hardwood and softwood species, sustainably sourced from our region’s many fertile forests. Our supplier partners with small mills throughout the region to cut and kiln-dry the lumber and manufacture the solid surfaces. And we’re happy to say that we can share the story behind each piece.

Wicanders Cork Flooring and Wall Coverings are one of our favorite sustainable building materials this year. Shown here in Charm (left) and Desire (right).

Wicanders Cork Flooring and Wall Covering

Wicanders has been in the business of making cork products since 1868. What started as bottle cork stoppers soon turned to furnishing and flooring products. And today, over 150 years later, cork flooring is still a recycled by-product of cork bottle stoppers. What makes Wicanders Cork Flooring one our favorite sustainable building materials of the year? On its own, cork is an ideal material for flooring. But when combined with Wicanders’ Corktech technology, cork becomes a flooring product packed with undeniable benefits: comfort, warmth, durability, and beauty. Best of all, it’s affordable.

Some other things we love about Wicanders Cork:

  • Corktech Structure – Wicanders employs an engineered multilayer structure to build a strong and durable flooring plank. It consists of a quality core layer of cork, an integrated cork underlayment, cork veneers and a protective, eco-friendly (and non-toxic) surface finish.
  • Glueless Floating Floor Install – the locking install system makes for a somewhat easy DIY install that you can float over an existing subfloor or glue down for a more permanent application.
  • Hypoallergenic – Cork is a great option for allergy sufferers because it’s naturally mold and mildew resistant, anti-microbial and doesn’t collect dust like carpets.
  • Durable – Cork has been used as flooring in buildings like the Library of Congress because it holds up to traffic. The finishes used today protect against cracking and scuff marks and adds a great deal of strength and longevity. When properly maintained, cork flooring can last for years. And years.
  • Inherent Cork Characteristics – The benefits of cork are pretty incredible and a lot of that has to do with its cell structure. Its acoustic insulation properties can reduce foot traffic sound up to 53% and act as a noise buffer between floors. Thanks to its thermal insulation properties, your floor maintains an optimal temperature all year round. Its cell structure also allows for elasticity and compressibility which means it can spring back from impacts. And it’s more flexible so it’s forgiving on your legs and back. This makes for an ideal kitchen floor, where you’re often standing for long periods of time.

SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR: Cork is one of the most renewable and versatile materials in the world. The cork bark is harvested without cutting down or destroying the cork oak tree. And there are strict time limits on the extraction period. During its long lifetime – upwards of 200 years – the tree is continually regenerating bark. As we mentioned before, cork flooring is a by-product of cork bottle stoppers. The material that’s left over after the stoppers are punched out is ground up to make other products, including floors. Many of the factories even utilize the cork dust from the processing plants to co-generate electricity.

Wicanders Cork Flooring is one of our favorite sustainable building materials this year. They also make a wall covering called Dekwall as well as glue-down cork tiles.
Wicanders makes a wall covering called ‘Dekwall’ (shown at left) as well as glue-down cork flooring (shown at right, top and bottom). Courtesy of Wicanders®

Summary

Sustainable building materials combine long-lasting style with eco-friendly function. And you don’t have to sacrifice either for a healthy indoor environment. It’s been an inventive year for green building. Thanks to the latest technology, brands continue to innovate and create more advanced products. We are fortunate to live in a time where people are generally more concerned about their personal wellness as well as that of our planet’s. We’re demanding healthier products – organic food, non-toxic cleaning products and “clean” skincare. We should be demanding the same healthfulness from our building materials. We hope this list of sustainable building products inspires your future healthy spaces!


Greenhome Solutions is a family-owned, Seattle-based green building product supplier and showroom. Our friendly, knowledgable and down-to-earth team is happy to introduce homeowners and contractors to the latest sustainable building materials to fit their needs – just ask! But some of the products you have to see to believe. If you haven’t been to our showroom (or browsed our website), it’s worth the visit. If you’re thinking about a remodel or new construction project, take a peek at our selection or give us a call today!

LEARN MORE (Sources)

Välinge Flooring | valingeflooring.com

Wicanders Cork | wicanders.us

Green Building 101: Sustainable materials and resources | usgbc.org

About Green Building | worldgbc.org

Indoor Air Quality & Environmental Health | environmentalscience.org

Protect Indoor Air Quality In Your Home | epa.gov

Targa Homes: Shoreline 5-Star DADU | builtgreen.net


Greenhome Before and Afters – Cork Flooring Brightens Drab Condo

It’s amazing what new flooring can do for a room, let alone a whole home! Cork flooring helped to completely transform this Seattle-area condo from dark and dreary to bright and cheery.

Location: Kirkland, WA
Scope: Full Condominium Remodel
Sustainability: Wicanders Cork Flooring
Wicanders cork flooring in Fashionable Cement replaced the dark kitchen floor.

This condo owner had a vision of a brighter and more cheerful space with modern updates and their tenant is thrilled to call it home. Cork flooring in a lighter color pallet, along with a healthy dose of low-VOC white paint, lightened up the home and provided a breath of fresh air – both figuratively and literally!

That’s because cork is more than just a beautiful floor.

The cork flooring brand that the homeowner ultimately chose, Wicanders®, has been awarded with several Indoor Air Quality certificates. The Greenguard North-American certification, for example, identifies products that have low chemical emissions, improving the air within its environment. Wicanders cork flooring products are awarded with the GOLD certification, which is a stricter criteria that ensures that a product is acceptable for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities.

The condo hallway was completely transformed into a brighter space with a coat of healthy, low-VOC paint on the walls, doors and trim, along with updated style of cork flooring in a lighter hue.

Cork – a healthy and durable alternative to carpet.

Initially the condo owner, Kimia Talajour, wanted to install luxury vinyl plank flooring to replace the existing carpet, but her condo’s homeowner association prohibits hard surface flooring in an effort to keep excessive noise between units to a minimum. She didn’t want to install new carpet because she finds that it gets dirty and stains easily, plus it holds on to dust. What “soft” flooring alternative to carpet could she use to comply with her home association’s rules? Talajour considered cork, but as she tells us, she “was apprehensive to use cork flooring because I was under the impression that it is not as durable as other flooring, especially for a rental unit.” However, after further research and discussions with our Greenhome team she “was made aware of the advancements and durability of the flooring type.”

Indeed, cork flooring is incredibly durable thanks to the healthy, eco-friendly varnish finish that adds strength and longevity to the floor.

Cork is a perfect alternative to carpet for its sound absorption and transmission qualities and the soft feel.

– Condo owner, Kimia Talajour

In the end, convinced that cork was a great option for her rental, Talajour chose Wicanders cork flooring in the color Fashionable Cement. It’s a lighter color, almost a white-washed gray. What features does she think her tenant will appreciate about the cork floors? She suspects they’ll enjoy that cork flooring is “very quiet and soft to the touch.” Plus, it’s “very comfortable to walk on. Cork is the perfect alternative to carpet for its sound absorption and transmission qualities and the soft feel.” We have a feeling the condo neighbors will appreciate those benefits as well!

Nothing brightens a space like a healthy coat of white paint and a lighter hued cork floor!

Would she recommend cork flooring to other owners of rentals?

“I would definitely recommend it especially for family rooms and bedrooms…and anywhere else that you’d want a warm cozy feel.”

From the lighter walls, doors and trim to the brighter, more comfortable cork floors, this condo remodel is a modern and cheerful version of its former self.

Photos: Jeremy Mashburn
Flooring Installation: NFI Enterprises (Auburn, WA)
Flooring: Greenhome Solutions / Wicanders Cork Essence Cork Flooring in Fashionable Cement

What Flooring Do We Put in Our Own Homes? (Spoiler Alert: It’s Cork Flooring)

What types of flooring do we personally use in our homes? We’re not shy about it – we know a thing or two about flooring and we’re often asked to share what we’ve installed in our homes. Our clients want to know what our kids and pets crawl/walk/fall/slide/jump/roll-around on. So, what’s the one style of flooring that we all have in common? We’ll give you a hint…it’s the greenest flooring around – Cork Flooring!

Everyday Living on Cork Floors | Greenhome Solutions - ghsproducts.com
Everyday Living on Our Cork Floors (Courtesy of Greenhome Solutions)

That’s right, it’s CORK flooring! But why do we love it so? Let us count the ways.

Cork flooring is…

WARM

Especially if you put it down over a concrete subfloor, you’re going to get a much warmer feel than a hardwood or tile floor. That’s thanks to its ability to hold warmth. Its thermal insulating properties create a barrier between the cold concrete subfloor and the comfortable temperature of your home, so cork flooring is ideal in a basement, for instance. Cork helps to maintain that comfy indoor climate better than other flooring, and BONUS…we’ve noticed the added benefit of energy cost savings!

 

SOFT and COMFORTABLE

Or “cushy” as we like to call it. One of the benefits of using cork for flooring is that it “gives” because there are microscopic pockets of air that allow the surface to compress and then expand again, without damaging the structure. It literally springs back! Because of that, cork is softer and more flexible, so it’s very forgiving on your legs and back. Which is why we like to put it in rooms like kitchens where you’re often standing for longer periods of time, and where it’s nice to have that extra cushiness. That also means your breakable glassware and Grandma’s china has a better chance of staying intact when dropped, rather than shattering into a million little pieces (like it probably would on a tile floor).

 

QUIET

Shhhh…did you hear that? Probably not, if you have a cork floor. Cork muffles that noisy foot traffic like a boss because of its acoustically insulating properties that allow it to absorb sound.

 

EASY TO INSTALL

Calling all DIY-ers! Save money on professional installers and install it yourself. Because cork is available in floating panels and squares that simply lock together using a tongue-and-groove installation system, many homeowners choose to put it in themselves rather than hire an installer. The floating application sits right on top of any smooth surface, which makes it ideal for do-it-yourself renovation projects.

 

SUPER SUSTAINABLE

Cork is a plant material derived from the bark of the cork oak tree. Most of the cork flooring that we offer is produced from Portuguese cork oak forests – or ‘Montados’. Cork (or more accurately, bark) harvesting is an environmentally friendly process that’s done without cutting down or destroying a single tree. A tree must be at least 20 – 25 years old before the first cut is made to its bark and from then on, the cork can only be extracted once every 9 years. Trees are harvested by experienced, qualified craftsmen who manually strip the outer layer of bark with a small hatchet. Throughout its long lifetime – cork oak trees can be expected to live upwards of 200 to 250 years – the tree is continually regenerating bark, which makes the Montados industry an ideal example of renewable production.

And did you know that cork flooring is a recycled by-product of cork bottle stoppers? Once the bark is stripped from the trees, it’s washed, dried and then bottle stoppers are punched out. The material that’s left over is ground up to make other products like cork floors. Essentially every part of the bark is being utilized so there’s very little waste. In fact, many wine cork factories even utilize cork dust from the processing plant to co-generate electricity!

Cork production facility in Portugal. Pictures courtesy of Greenhome Solutions. Cork flooring available at ghsproducts.com.
Amorim cork factory in Portugal (Courtesy of Greenhome Solutions)

HEALTHY

Do you suffer from allergies? Looking for an alternative to allergen-collecting carpet (the non-wool variety, of course)? Cork is a great option because it’s naturally mold and mildew resistant due to the waxy substance inherent in cork. AND it’s anti-microbial. Oh, and did we mention it’s also resistant to pests like termites?

 

DURABLE and EASY TO MAINTAIN

Although they’ve more recently become quite popular here in North America, cork floors have been used since early in the last century, particularly in Europe. There are older examples of it featured in U.S. buildings like the Harvard Law Library and the Library of Congress. When properly maintained, cork flooring can last 40 years or more. It resists cracking and scuff marks and is airtight to gas and liquid (yet still breathable). Cork can bounce back from hard impacts, due to its natural and inherent flexibility, which increases the life span of the flooring. And unlike vinyl, the pattern and color of the cork can penetrate through and through. Which means you can sand it and refinish it as necessary.

As far as day-to-day maintenance goes, cork floors are a cinch to maintain. Simply sweep up any debris or loose dirt before wiping the floor with a damp (not soaking wet) mop or vacuum. For general spills, a damp mop will do the trick. If you need to deep clean, use a pH Neutral cleaner, preferably one that’s non-toxic. We like Wicanders Soft Cleaner for cork flooring.

 

AFFORDABLE

With these unique characteristics and benefits, you’d think cork would be expensive, right? But in reality, cork is very reasonably priced. Cork flooring prices can range anywhere from $3 on up to $20 for specialty or custom styles. However, most of the cork we offer is in the $3 – $6 range, so it’s quite affordable. And even if you decide not to install it yourself, installation only adds $3 – $4/square foot.

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Debunking cork myths…

Still on the fence? We’ve heard it all when it comes to our client’s hesitation to put cork in their homes. So, we thought it might be helpful to dispel some of the most popular misconceptions:

Won’t heavy furniture damage the cork floor? Can it really withstand all our family and pet traffic?

Softer than wood and harder than carpets, cork’s flexibility and “memory” is the perfect mix to absorb small impacts and dings. But it’s also dense enough to withstand heavy traffic and weight. That’s why you’ll find it in museums, government buildings and libraries. And don’t forget that cork has been used as the soles of shoes (hello, Birkenstocks!). While cork can spring back, it’s not invincible. Heavy furniture can leave permanent dents, especially furniture with narrow legs (like the incredibly popular Mid-Century Modern styles) so be sure to use floor protectors to prevent damage. What about pets, you ask? As we like to say, you have to love your pets more than your floor 🙂 And that sentiment goes for ALL flooring types. But when it comes to resilience and durability, cork is still our favorite flooring for how forgiving it is.

I’ve read that cork doesn’t work well in damp areas. Won’t water ruin the floor?

Though cork looks like it has a spongy consistency, cork does not absorb water like a sponge. Cork floats!  It’s considered impermeable yet breathable which is why it’s water resistant and oh-so buoyant. Think buoys, fishing net floats, wine corks, etc. Also consider that cork is used in engine gaskets to hold back liquid and pressure. However, cork is available in engineered floating planks, where the cork is layered on top of a high-density fiberboard (HDF) layer that securely clicks the panels together. Standing water can permeate those joints and cause warping of the HDF layer. In rooms like bathrooms with showers, where standing water or excessive moisture is a risk, a floating floor is usually not advised. And we typically recommend using a solid, glue-down option.

There are exceptions to this rule and as technology advances, so do flooring product innovations. Amorim®, a brand leader in cork flooring, now offers a flooring product called WISE. The WISE line features a rigid core construction and is available in both cork and wood looks. You may have heard the term rigid core used in reference to vinyl flooring – specifically luxury vinyl tile (LVT). Luxury vinyl flooring is also a type of engineered flooring constructed of several layers, including a strong “rigid” core made from a plastic composite core. That plastic core adds strength, durability and waterproof features, which means the flooring will not absorb or warp if exposed to water. However, the majority of vinyl composite core flooring products contain Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastic, which has been found to emit harmful carcinogens that may be released into indoor environments. At Greenhome Solutions, we take the stance that vinyl is a problematic material so we will not offer it. Amorim WISE cork flooring was designed with a rigid core construction made without PVC. So the product is extremely stable with waterproof properties, meaning it can go in areas we typically don’t recommend for floating planks, like bathrooms and laundry rooms. We’re happy to be able to offer an engineered cork floor with waterproof properties like Amorim WISE. However, we still recommend promptly wiping up any spills that occur and deal with standing water or moisture issues in a timely manner to make sure your subfloor underneath stays dry.

Will my cork floor fade in the light?

Unfortunately this one is not a myth – fading is a possibility, especially with the natural cork colors.  Exposure to sunlight (and UV light) can cause fading, which is important to note if you plan to put a natural-colored cork floor in a particularly sunny room.  If you opt for a darker pattern, or cork that’s stained in a darker color, there’s less risk of fading and discoloring. However, if you’re anything like our Mom, who likes to move furniture around her living room on a whim, your cork flooring will fare better in sunny rooms 🙂

Don’t I have to worry about the binder chemicals and adhesives used to convert cork into floor planks and tiles?

When you purchase cork flooring from us, or other reputable distributers, you can rest assured that our cork products have NO added urea-formaldehyde (NAUF), ZERO VOC’s, and NO harmful adhesives or resins. Our pre-finished floors have environmentally friendly surface finishes, with no off-gassing concerns.

Elina Picking out Cork Flooring Samples | Greenhome Solutions
I think she likes that one. (Courtesy of Greenhome Solutions)
I’m not crazy about the look of cork. Does it come in other colors or patterns?

Cork is super versatile. If you’re not a fan of cork’s natural tone variations or texture as-is, it’s available in many other styles, colors, patterns and sizes. It comes in tiles and planks, as well as roll-out sheets. Planks can offer a seamless look, while tiles of different colors can be placed in patterns of your choosing. There are tiles that feature a variety of innovative patterns and colors in both solid and veneer constructions.

The solid cork tile patterns and color on the surface goes through the entire thickness of the tile, which allows for sanding and refinishing as needed. Keep in mind that although the veneer cork styles offer highly decorative patterns that you won’t find in solid construction, they cannot be sanded and refinished because the veneer is simply a thin layer of color affixed to the top of a solid cork tile. So, there may be a bit of a trade-off for the wilder patterns. Also note that cork can be stained any color you like, or even stenciled if you prefer!

I’ve heard that cork is endangered. Should I refrain from buying cork flooring?

The truth is that cork is 100% renewable, and cork extraction can continue for as long as the demand for it exists. Cork demand has traditionally been driven by the wine industry. But as more and more wine cork is being replaced by alternative wine stoppers like aluminum screw tops and plastic stoppers, the decreased demand for cork has essentially devalued the cork oak forests (called Montados). The misconception that cork is “dying out” was initiated by an industry that wants consumers to accept the change in bottle stoppers and buy wine with alternative stoppers. Cork is not dying out but the demand needs to remain high so that the forests will continue to be cultivated.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been in Portugal since 1995 working with local communities to restore the cork oak forests. Part of that effort involves increasing market demand for cork forest products such as cork flooring. So, by purchasing cork flooring we’re supporting the Montados, rather than contributing to their endangerment.

Cork Oak Forest - Montado; Stacks of harvested cork | Greenhome Solutions
Cork Oak Forest ‘Montado’; Stacks of harvested cork. (Courtesy of Greenhome Solutions)

Our Favorite Flooring

As you can tell, we love us some cork. All the unique qualities of cork make it ideal to use in flooring, as it provides comfort and durability while also being a renewable and sustainable resource. What’s not to love?

Contact us to learn more about cork. Clearly, we really enjoy talking about it!

And CLICK HERE to browse our large collection of cork flooring.

Learn More

Sustainable Building Materials – Cork Flooring  |  greenbuild.org
Benefits of Cork Flooring  |  motherearthnews.com
Cork Sustainable Practices  |  corkqc.com
Wicanders Cork Flooring  |  wicanders.us

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