Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New cork kitchen floor

We've been busy around here the past few weeks, with renovations to our own kitchen (cork flooring, new larger sink, newly tiled counter, repainting) as well taking on a side job of installing bamboo flooring at a friend's new place.

We debated flooring options for our kitchen, wanting something ecologically sound, durable, affordable, and easy to keep clean. Our beautiful old pine floor was just getting too hard to maintain, with cracked boards that needed replacing as well as a huge job of stripping off decades worth of old paint. We finally decided to add a new cork floor over the existing pine boards. As the manufacturer says, it was quite easy to install, with no glues, nails, varnishes or other finishes. So far we've been quite happy with the results.

Some of the benefits that convinced us to go with cork are (taken from the Wicander's site):

- Cork flooring products are made from all natural raw materials; offering the resilience and excellent performance of cork as an insulator, while providing amazing decorative possibilities.
- The glue less joint systems of the cork flooring floating planks permits fast and efficient installation of the cork flooring on any level surface at all levels of the home.
- Cork floors can be installed in kitchens with good performance and protection from moisture.
- The raw material for cork floors is obtained by harvesting the cork oak tree bark; with the tree never being cut down. This enables the bark to regenerate itself within a few years. Cork floors are an ecologically sound building material which allows for continual harvesting of cork for centuries making it a renewable resource for generations to follow.
- During the production process of natural cork flooring products, we utilize 100% of the harvested materials with no waste produced.

- Cork Forests cover worldwide an area of 2.5 million ha, of which 1 million is located in Portugal (1/3 of the country). Other countries cork grows include: Algeria, Spain, Morocco, France, Italy and Tunisia.
- Cork is harvested from the beginning of June to the end of August. This is possible only every 9 years, 20 times all together.
- Cork is peeled only from the trunk and from branches of a specified circumference down to the thin reddish parent layer, below which new cork is growing (approx. 1.5-4mm per year)
- 20 % of the cork bark is left intact to protect the tree from drying up.

Environmentally Friendly- Cork Flooring is produced using all natural cork products which are harvested with no waste materials produced. This results in no damage to the tree or the environment in which it is harvested.
Durability- Cork flooring is remarkably resistant to wear, as it is less affected by impact and friction than other hard surfaces because of it cellular composition. Cork flooring offers great warranties.
Resiliency- When cork floors are subjected to pressure, the gas in the cells is compressed and volume reduces considerably. When released from pressure cork flooring recovers quickly to its original shape. Cork floors are gentle on your joints and soft underfoot.
Insulation- Because 90% of the cork tissue consists of gaseous matter, the density of cork is extremely low giving the material wonderful insulating properties, thermal as well as acoustical. Cork floors are warm and quiet underfoot.
Impermeability- The presence of Suberin, an inherent waxy substance, renders cork impervious
to both liquids and gases. As a result, it does not rot and may therefore be considered the best seal available. Cork floors are perfect for residential and light commercial applications.
Fire retardation- A natural fire retardant, cork flooring does not spread flames and does not release toxic gases during combustion.
Hypoallergenic- Cork flooring does not attract dust and consequently does not cause allergies.
Electrically Dissipative- Cork flooring does not produce static electricity making it suitable for rooms with electronic equipment and appliances.
Exact Milling- Cork floors have a UV finish prior to milling that guarantees a seamless varnish coat and a homogenous surface.
Easy to clean- Cork flooring can be easily maintained by vacuuming and damp mopping with approved cleaners.
Easy Installation- Cork floating flooring panels are easily installed without the use of special tools.
Suitable for Radiant Heating- Cork floating floors are suitable for installation over Hot water radiant heat systems, provided that the temperature does not exceed 81 degrees F.

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