Cork Flooring or something else?

sueshog53July 4, 2011

I am considering cork flooring for my entry and kitchen area. Will this be durable enough to withstand this area? Any suggestions on brands? I have waivered so much on the type of flooring to get. Strand bamboo was considered but I backed off because I read it was too hard to nail down. Tile was considered but then I was afraid it would be too hard on my feet. Same with slate. Any good suggestions would be appreciated. Also, I'm in the Detroit area and looking for a good installer. Where do you find one if you don't know anyone to make a recommendation?

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Quality Cork can be durable and great for MOST rooms in your home including the kitchen and entry. Stay away from Lumber Liquidators!!!!

Quality Strand Bamboo is a VERY hard floor but can easily be installed with a cleat nailer. Most professional installers will have a cleat nailer, if he doesn't have one, get someone else.

As for tile, if ceramic is too hard you can look at Luxury Vinyl Tile.

If you need an installer the retail store you purchase your flooring from will have qualified installers.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 9:57PM
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We have decided to go with cork. However, after much research, we are going with the tiles. For us, one of the biggest positives to cork is the water resistant qualities. However, if you go with the floating cork that it really easy to install, it is not water resistant because it has a MDF core and because water can get in between the planks. I am so excited for cork. I can't decide what color to go with though. As I posted on another thread, dark would look best in our great room/ kitchen because we have white cabinets and dark counters, but I am really nervous about them fading (the biggest negative of cork) very quickly because we have large windows...but then again I don't know if a light color would look good.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 10:35AM
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I didn't realiae that cork fades. This would be a problem for me too because I also get a lot of sun in my kitchen. I can see that water could get between the planks but how do people deal with that with hard wood floors? Many kitchens done in wood. Tile seems like the easiest to care for but I'm so afraid it will kill my feet and back. I just can't decide what to do.

Thanks for your help everyone!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 12:58AM
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You definitely don't want water sitting on wood either. With either one, I think that you would need to be sure to wipe up liquid as soon as possible. The problem would be a dishwasher leak or something similar. I've heard with the cork glue down tiles, it really doesn't matter how much water leaks on, it will be fine.

Cork would be much better on your back then tile. The fading might be a deal breaker for us as well, however, I think dark wood will fade too, so I don't know what to do. I'm really stressed out about what floors to pick and I have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 12:13PM
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I installed Naturalcork planks (floating click system type) in our kitchen in the spring of 2007. That brand applies a moisture repellant (paraffin-oil based) to the edges of the planks. We haven't had a major water flood but have had a few splills that we mopped up and which caused no problems. We like the "soft" feel on our feet in the room we spend most of our time in on our feet. We do have small rugs at the sink and cooktop locations per the manuficures suggestion.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 7:29PM
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Hi sueshog53, I am in the northern suburbs of Detroit. We did our kitchen last year and had sheet linoleum (Marmoleum) installed by Main Floor Covering (Also called Carpet One) in Royal Oak. Their guy seems to be the only one around trained to install real lino, with its humps formed by the drying racks. Given that experience, we returned to that store for our floating cork floor for the LR, foyer, and halls. We currently do not have access to the LR due to construction, so I cannot actually order the floor yet, since the area cannot be measured.

At Main we looked at their variety of cork and bamboo and decided on the cork, and on the Wicanders brand. I still have to do some research to be sure, but theirs looks like it has the thickest cork bottom layer and a good top layer. We also liked the look.

Our builder installed a plank linoleum floating floor for us in our kitchen in our last house (which we unfortunately still own). I ordered it online from iFloors in 2003. It was Nova Linoleum brand. Jim glued all of the joints as he went along (the click-together part) to add to the waterproofing durability. We lived there until the end of 2005 with no trouble at all with the floor, even with three dogs (40, 60, and 68 lbs) doing the cartoon-character spinning legs trick at the 90 degree curve on the way to the back door. When we put it up for sale, I threw a layer of water-based poly on per the instructions for extra protection. Our house was for sale a year and a half, then had a rent-to-own family there for two years. My current renter is a young couple (the rent-to-own folks got a house for a third of the cost of ours, so abandoned their downpayment and cancelled the deal!). Not one raised edge can be found on that 1 ft by 3 ft click plank floor with MDF center. For this reason, I have faith in the 1x3 plank click floor format.

Main does have several cork choices. They even have one where if a plank gets ruined, you can saw that plank out and replace it without pulling apart the whole floor from the edge to the replacement plank. They seem to know something about the floors, too. Dion waited on us, he seems to know his stuff.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 11:08PM
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We are seriously considering cork as well. I think we will go with the glue down because it's cork further through and seems to therefore offer better acoustical insulation and longevity (through refinishing). Also, if you do get a cut into the cork, going with a baked color that goes through rather than a veneer will mean you don't see the cut.

I have been told that the fading issue can be prevented by UV coatings of polyurethane, and that new windows often have UV coatings on them to meet local energy codes, but I can't attest to it personally.

We're looking at Expanko but I will definitely follow up with Wicander if it's the thickest. Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:23PM
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Thanks for the info Nancy in MI. Sorry I didn't respond sooner but was on vacation. I will definitely check out that store in Royal Oak. I'm in northern suburbs too. Appreciate all the help from everyone.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 3:32PM
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Kately is a spammer who just registered on 8-12 to advertise her store. "Distinguishably resilient"? I am not sure what 'distinguishably' means, but resilient is not a word I would ever use with porcelain!

Sueshog53, our project got delayed by permits and inspections, so we have not yet ordered. Once we are back from our vacation, we should have access to the living room again, and then can order. Let me know what you think of the choices at Main Floor. You may learn something we did not, or may have a point of view that we have not thought of. I also found a $100 off coupon at the Carpet One site.

Could you ever imagine that someone considering cork for a kitchen floor would switch to porcelain? You pay the big bucks for good cork to save your back and knees. Someone wanting that is not going to consider porcelain.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 6:26PM
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I have to say I disagree with Todd on floating cork in kitchens. There is a huge difference between floated and tile cork. Floated cork's core is mdf or hdf. If you float cork without post install urethane, it WILL swell at the plank edges and remain ruined with a moderate amount of water. By moderate I mean a 16 oz glass of water spilled overnight.

Let's face it there are common kitchen spills between "a few drops transferring dishes to dishwasher" and a "flood". those include a kid spilling a class of water a night, a refrigerator defrost drain overflow of half a gallon and a score of other pint to gallons spills that might not be detected for a few hours. Almost always those would have no affect on vinyl tile or sheet, linoleum, stone, ceramic tile or cork tiles, but would be disastrous for laminates or their structural cousins -- floated cork plank. the liquid will get in the seams between the planks and it will swell the the mdf.

That doesn't mean it is out of the question. In a smaller kitchen the costs wont be much ($600-$1,000) and you can float it yourself meaning no installation costs. So a $700 risk isn't that much. It is just that people ought to be aware of the risks -- and the reason why EVERY serious flooring pro recommends cork tile over cork+mdf/hdf lock planks in kitchens.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 12:58PM
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I still haven't made a decision on what to do. Man at Lowe's tried to talk me out of cork. Said it would scratch more easily than hardwood. Don't hold too much stock in his opinion as he said that bamboo was a hardwood...just from a different tree than oak. Guess I need to be sure to use tiles instead of planks if we do go with cork. Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:15PM
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I have had a floating cork floor (planks) for one year in my family room. Its a high traffic area with a door to our in ground pool, up to the kitchen , and down the hall to garage/laundry room.

We have wood in most of our house including kitchen. I think the cork is equally or more durable than wood. I do recommend a non-chinese brand of cork. I used We cork.

As for floor fading, most any flooring will fade. However since we installed low e glass that problem has been resolved.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 1:52PM
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Cork Flooring is a nice choice. Recently I am writing articles about basement flooring, and I'll try to collect some points here :)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 4:47AM
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1) Low e glass doesn't have anything to do with fading floors or furniture. In fact you are repeating one of the more common bogus statements by unscrupulous window salespeople. To help prevent fading you need UV protection on windows, which is something eles entirely and not usually on Low e windows.

Also your statement that "most flooring will fade" that is FALSE. Most flooring wont. Modern vinyl doesn't (and is way less costly to replace), tile doesn't, stone doesn't, laminate doesnt. Some wood fades -- but much less, and unlike cork -- wood can be refinished at low cost.

So, cork has a UNIQUE problem with fading from sunlight.

2) floating cork in the kitchen has the same major downside as floating laminate: an undetected spill over a seam can cause a permanent swelling of the mdf or hdf core.

That doesn't mean floated cork is a no go, but it does mean that people ought to be aware of the risks. And second to laminate, flated cork is, in a kitchen, very likely to have way less life than tile, hardwood, linoleum or vinyl.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 6:28AM
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Cork flooring is great environment friendly flooring that feels great under your feet and looks great too. Cork flooring in a kitchen will instantly update your kitchen and make it feel warm and inviting. Cork flooring has many other benefits also. Cork flooring is also wonderful for homes with family members with allergies. It is hypoallergenic and does not absorb dust or mites, letting you mop the floor clean to remove the allergens. This makes it an ideal flooring for people with allergies, as the dust will not cause them problems.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 6:54AM
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tl45 is correct that first generation low emissivity glass didn't block all that much UV light. Modern low e3 366 glass blocks more than 90% (they claim 95%), so fading issues from sunlight will be reduced. Note that fluorescent lighting also emits UV, which can fade fabrics and paintings, as well as some floors.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 9:44PM
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so if glue-down is the ultimate recommendation for kitchen (i'm doing living too), then what brands are recommended? we like a Home Depot color but it is only a floating (manufacturer says you can glue it down though).

Also, i'm not quite keen on the quality of the Home Depot one. it's cheap in price. have heard about some issues in quality on it.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 5:25PM
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I wouldn't say that glue down is the ultimate recommendation. As mentioned above I installed floating in our kitchen in part due to the angles and an island. Floating gave me more room to adjust during installation as compared to glue down (the manufacturer recommended contact cement so one it was down there it stayed).

Someone above mentioned a dropped glass of water left over night. I can't imaging that scenario (well mabye if you have kids)!

As to price, be careful of cheap. To some extent you get what you pay for. Shop around at flooring stores and on line (with shipping) to get a sense of a fair price.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 7:11PM
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