Cork 2012 Style, Part II

Cork 2012 Style, Part II

Why do you harp on Indoor Air Quality Certifications?

Q. If cork flooring is a natural material, why do you put so much emphasis on whether the manufacturer has gotten the flooring certified through chemical emissions testing?

A. There are many natural flooring products on the market. But very few of them are made without chemicals and additives. Cork flooring is beautifully natural and sustainable. But it cannot be made without some extra ingredients – like adhesive.

After wine bottle stoppers are punched out of the bark of the Cork Oak Trees in and around Portugal, cork that will be made into flooring is ground up, mixed with pigments, and adhesive. Fortunately, cork producers in the Mediterranean region are known for their attention to environmentally sound adhesives and additives.

Once the sheets of cork are produced, more materials are introduced. If the cork will be used for engineered flooring, which is made in layers, the core of the floor with be HDF (High Density Fiber Board). And if the flooring – engineered or solid – will be prefinished, anything from a simple water-based polyurethane to a proprietary aluminum oxide or ceramic finish, to a high-tech nano finish, will be applied to the surface.

From my view, a manufacturer who does not put his product through indoor air quality testing is not living up to the expectations of the “green” building

Qu-Cork Midnight Slate

industry or the homeowner who is seeking more healthful indoor air quality. While these certifications do not mean a product emits no chemicals, they assure that chemical emissions do not exceed limits set by the certification. A basic understanding of limits set by different certifications allows the homeowner to select a product that meets his or her indoor air quality expectations.

“Cork is the perfect flooring choice for the health of the environment and the health of home,” says R. Lanny Trottman, president of Global Market Partners, which supplies Qu-Cork flooring. “We feel the GREENGUARD certifications demonstrate our commitment to the health of the home.”

Qu-Cork has GREENGUARD Children & Schools Indoor Air Quality Certification, which has more stringent limits than GREENGUARD or FloorScore Indoor Air Quality Certification, which is based on limits set by the state of California, known as CA Specification 01350.

Wicanders cork flooring has GREENGUARD certification. But a number of leading brands, possibly because of testing costs, have not gotten their products certified. In some cases, the manufacturer will explain that all of the components used in making the product have certification, so the finished product does not need to be tested.

I think this logic will prove to be short-sighted. ©

— Nancy Kibbee is editor at naturalinteriors.com

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