Anyone tried cork flooring?

At my place we’re almost to the flooring stage of our kitchen remodel. The woman of the house and I like the look of some of the cork flooring. We like it so much that I decided to get some and use it for the surface of the desk I was building.

Thing is, it’s been extremely fragile on the desktop. I bought a box of odd-lot stuff, and it was a little more dinged up than I like, but I was able to get enough to have my desktop done.

That being said, as part of the whole process I whapped the top of the desk while I was assembling it with a rubber mallet. And it left a big old curved ‘cut’ in the cork laminate!

I put some “wood” laminate in two rooms of my last house, and the only damage I remember ever getting to it was when a foot stool with a staple coming loose on the bottom was dragged across the floor and left a gouge. I dropped hammers on that thing, I moved couches on it, and it was pretty damned indestructible.

And the cork is damaged by a rubber mallet.

Anyone have any experience with cork floors?


My sister put cork floor in her kitchen reno - they had to re-do it because the first time the installers left marks from buffing it or something like that. The second installation looks better, I guess, but she got an off-white colour, and it just looks like hell. It looks like an old, beat-up, broken down floor from the day it was installed. Natural wood colours may look better, but the off-white is a disaster.

If it’s really fragile, that might explain why they had to re-do the installation.

We have wood laminate over almost our entire main floor in our latest house, and like you, I’m finding it very tough, which is important for someone as clumsy as I am.

My allergy doctor did his floors in dark brown cork and they look absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think he went low-end at all, though. My church dug up some old cork floors from under old carpet or tile or something and resurfaced them, and they look pretty good.

I am really tempted to try cork, but the thing that holds me back is the prospect of permanent dents from furniture and such. From what I understand, the one bright side there is you can just replace the single dented area, without having to redo the whole floor. Advantages I like are soft, warm, quiet, allergy-friendly and potentially beautiful.

How is it with water being left on it- will that ruin it, or is it fine with that? Spills don’t get cleaned up right away in our kitchen, and dirt/water/ice melt chemicals get tracked in from outside. I want to replace the hardwood floor we have in there now with something that is better able to stand up to that kind of thing. I like the look of cork.

I thought about it. But while there were the good stories about it being easy on your back and feet, there were also the warnings that it would show wear fairly quickly.

I ended up with linoleum (honest to goodness linoleum), which is natural, durable, and IMNSHO gorgeous.

A year ago, I put a cork floor in a tenant’s kitchen (yeah, I know, I know), and it hasn’t worn too well. I went cheap – went to Lumber Liquidators and bought prefinished slabs of cork maybe 3/16 thick, and glued them to the substrate. The edges of each tile tend to be a little ridgy relative to the rest, which is not so good.

It looks okay, and it’s easy on the feet and the dropped dishes, but for wear, forget it. That said, I know of a public library that has cork floors, so there has to be a way to do it successfully for high-traffic locations. I guess it’s a question of the product, and maybe of the installation. I know they sell engineered floors with a cork surface veneer, so maybe that’s a good way to go.

Since this is more of a solicitation of opinions than a question with a specific factual answer, I’m moving the thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

The first dozen times I heard the Lumber Liquidators blurb on NPR, I thought they were selling pork flooring.

My mother has a cork floor in her kitchen. It’s more than 20 years old, and still looks good. Knowing her, she didn’t do it on the cheap and she also takes reasonable care of her stuff. I seem to remember that having pools of water sitting around was something that was specifically bad, that it would blur the finish, or something like that, but I don’t really remember if that’s the case or not.

I have no problem with linoleum - we had it in our last house, and the only damage I was able to do to it was dropping a knife point down on it. I’d put lino in again in a heartbeat.

Maybe you should check out bamboo flooring.

We redid a room, a converted porch we use as a family/living room, in APC “Athene” cork before we moved in, almost three years ago now, and it still looks great. It’s the prefinished “floating” plank kind with no gluing or anything, from “Fast Floors,” $2.72/sq.ft in 2007 (plus some foam underlayment). Installation was very very easy – it took longer to get the old carpet out than to lay down the cork, since whoever installed the carpet had used some kind of super-epoxy on every square inch.

We wipe up spills but aren’t paranoid about it. We also have a lot of sand in the house – we take the dog to a nearby beach often – and that doesn’t seem to have messed up the finish that I can see. We put those little coaster thingies under furniture legs when we remember. We don’t have kids. There is a woodstove in here and we have definitely dropped big heavy logs, with no visible damage. We’re not very formal, so the few dings we have managed to make don’t bug us, but then cork doesn’t look very formal to start with.

I’d do it again. I don’t know that I’d put cork in the kitchen, though. We’re pretty messy in there and manage to spill something more or less daily.

I used to sell flooring, and when it came to cork, the consensus was “there are better options.” Especially for a kitchen.

My favorite general-purpose option for a kitchen was luxury vinyl tile. It is a thick resilient vinyl tile that wears very well and is made in so many different looks. Perhaps there is a cork-look one. It isn’t anything like sheet vinyl (the flooring that most people erroneously call “linoleum”) Good vinyl tile isn’t cheap, but it’s very good. They have the advantage of being easy on your back and not too hard on dropped things.

Real linoleum is wonderful, as is wood, bamboo, or tile. They all have their pros and cons. Laminates are really easy to do yourself. (There are engineered woods that snap together like laminates too) Remember that pre-finished wood flooring is MUCH more durable and water-resistant than flooring finished in place.

We put down a bamboo floor in our last house in the living room, and I don’t know if I’d go there again. It was just as easy to scratch as hardwood, which for me is too easy to scratch. If you can live with hardwood without wrecking it, it did look quite nice when it was done.