Custom design in cork gives light and warmth to dark kitchenLaura wasn’t kidding when she said her new kitchen floor had to create a warmer, brighter space than the brown vinyl that once covered the floor in this room with very little natural light.
Something natural that was indoor-air friendly would also be a plus, Laura thought as she began to research different floors. Tile was her first choice. But the cement board required as an underlayment would have raised the kitchen floor much higher than the adjoining rooms of carpet, hardwood and slate.
She found a design – in cork flooring tiles – that she liked online, and selected colors for her own custom look.
What do ceramic nano beads mean for softness underfoot?Q. I am puzzled about the ceramic bead layers advertised as being part of the finish on Wicanders Cork Flooring. Does this add considerable hardness to the cork surface? I’m seeing the comfort aspect of cork, and am actually replacing ceramic tile with the cork – so I don’t want to replace hard ceramic with hard ceramic!
A. The ceramic beads are crystals that are embedded in the layers of the UV- cured urethane finish that is topically applied at the plant during the final stages of the manufacturing process. These tiny microscopic particles do not add to the hardness of the cork, but rather to the long-term wear-ability of the finish.
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.
New looks, including stone, wood and textiles, expand uses for cork flooringWhat is that? Just when we thought we had seen every style and color of cork flooring available today, Wicanders has thrown us a curve.
Some of it looks like stone. Some of it looks like marble, granite, wood and textiles. But it is an illusion, enabled by the latest digital optic technology that embosses these patterns directly onto the cork.
“You cannot tell its cork until you touch it,” says Tim Tompkins, national marketing director for Wicanders. “We are able to print these patterns directly on our cork veneers. The texture of the cork veneer beneath it adds more texture and realism to the finished product, and each floor is a fingerprint of itself as no two planks, panels or tiles are identical. It’s very amazing technology.”
Consider origin, construction, chemical emissions, innovation and responsiveness when you choose cork flooringThe call was one no flooring retailer wants. The customer was furious. Her husband had damaged the cork flooring Cline’s Carpets had just installed in her home outside of West Lafayette, Ind.
“She was really honked off, not at us, but at her husband who had done something that took a divot out of the floor,” owner Cary Cline recalls.
But a strange thing happened when Cline’s installer went out the next day to make a repair. He couldn’t find any damage. “The flooring had healed itself,” Cline says.
Cork flooring, invented more than 100 years ago, is known for its ability to bounce back from abuse. Today’s construction -- which includes engineered flooring and an array of stronger finishes -- has led to a dramatic increase in sales during the past decade.