As its name would suggest, natural cork flooring uses cork wood as a surface material for floors. Though many people may think of cork as the light to dark beige product from which wine corks are made, the flooring can be made into many different colors. Some feel there are many benefits to using natural cork flooring as well.
In most cases, natural cork flooring is used in locations where it is wise to have water-resistant flooring. This makes the material very popular for kitchens, bathrooms and dining rooms. Furthermore, due to the high cost of the material, using the material for flooring in these locations is often preferred because they are smaller areas in the home. Installing a natural cork floor over a larger space can become very costly.
Natural cork flooring is also very popular when designing a green building. It is considered a renewable resource because the oak tree that produces the cork is not cut down. Rather, the cork is cut from the bark only once a decade. This does not permanently damage the tree, which is capable of producing dozens of harvests during the course of the tree's life. Thus, it is one option that many may consider when looking at materials for green living.
Natural cork flooring can also add to some of the functional benefits of a home. For example, it may be used in place of carpet, since it can muffle sounds. That is not a characteristic of hard wood flooring. Cork is porous enough to absorb sound, but does not allow moisture to seep through very easily.
Cork can be as versatile as tile, as far as color is concerned. While many people do choose artificial colors, some prefer their natural cork flooring to reflect the heritage of the material, and therefore decide to stay with the original color. The natural coloring will usually not be uniform, but rather varying shades of beige, tan, brown, and perhaps a little black.
In addition to these benefits, many choose cork for comfort reasons. It can provide some insulation against colder temperatures seeping through from the ground and foundation below. Further, natural cork flooring has air pockets in it that will help cushion the impact of walking on it. While many may worry that this is a sign of weakness, and question its durability, it is simply the nature of the flooring. Cork is considered durable enough to be used in high traffic areas of many public buildings.