Cork floors the pros and cons – Cork House Group

Cork floors the pros and cons

What's the meaning?

Floating cork is a ready-to-use product consisting of HDF or IMF bases up to 7 mm thick. From the bottom, it has a 1.2 mm cork compensating substrate, and on top is 2.5 or 3 mm of natural cork. floating cork floors are laid using a floating joints, with a tenon in the groove method without glue.

What's the meaning?

Glue-down cork floor one should call cork parquet, because it is 100% bark cortex. The cork plate can be 4-6-8-10-12 mm thick. It is laid on any prepared base with the help of special glue. After paving is covered by water - based varnish. Exceptions are models that do not require additional varnishing.

The interface of a cork floors

The floating cork can be chamfered, not chamfered, with print on it or with a natural veneer pattern. Its dimensions are basically 90×30 cm, thickness from 7.5 to 12 mm. The floating cork is also available with an upper vinyl cover, although calling it a cork covering is not entirely true, the thickness of the cork layer is about 2 mm out of 10 mm total thickness.
The glue-down cork can be 4-6-8-10-12mm thick, the dimensions of the plates can also be completely different. Unlike the floating, there can be a wide variety of design solutions for the floor – it can be chamfered, not chamfered, tinted or natural, it can be printed, and various styling options can be used.

Requirement to the basement and installation

The floating cork must be laid on the cork substrate on a smooth base, the irregularities should be no more than 3 mm on 2 meters length – otherwise the floating will experience undesirable additional load, and eventually will break down. It is possible to build a HEAT-INSULATED FLOOR, but this is not advisable and inefficient, because firstly, the floating cork has a large thermal resistance, and secondly, being essentially a “floating” covering, the floating cork floor will have a shorter service life because of the temperature difference.
The glue-down cork also installs on a smooth base. If you have a rough screed level, without holes and cones, then the finishing equalization is not required. Cork plates are glued to the base with a special glue. You can use a HEAT-INSULATED FLOOR, but the temperature should not exceed 28 °, otherwise there will be gaps between the plates.

Cork flooring ecology

Floating cork of 10.5-11 mm thickness consists of the HDF or MDF core on 70%, i.e. the wooden products that are produced by the wooden fiber compression with adding the organic adhesive and setting substances under high pressure and temperature. At the same time there are only 2-3 mm of natural cork material on which you will walk.
A glue-down cork has the thickness of 4-6-8-10-12 mm. At the same time, it consists of cork granules, that is exposed to agglomeration under high temperature and certain pressure without any synthetic binders. That gives the grounds to consider this flooring to be completely ecological.

The positive influence on the human health

Floating flooring is sufficiently solid base, since the HDF core density is very high, it is in a range of 800-1100 kg / m3, (for example, the pine density is 520 kg / m3). It is something in between of wooden floor and laminated flooring according to the tactual senses. For this reason, people who have the problems with the spine and suffer from the supporting-motor apparatus arthropathy, will feel uncomfortable when walking.
The researches, that was conducted several years ago by the research institute in Valencia, proved the positive impact of the cork flooring on the human supporting-motor apparatus. Moreover, the thicker the cork layer under the feet, the better amortization: the joints do not feel the negative impact that they have while walking on the solid surface. More importantly, the whole supporting-motor apparatus, including spine, has a slight therapeutic effect.

The use in the premises with the high humidity

The floating cork with the lock curved in it, that has HDF or MDF panel as a core, while producing is covered with the stabilizer layer of wax or tarred paper (0.1-0.8 mm thick), either with the plastic layer (0.4-0.8 mm thick). That gives it the additional protection from humidity, however under long-term water exposure or under high humidity in the room, the core begins to warp and “swell”. Unfortunately, such floor loses its form and does not restore after drying.
Great and undoubtful advantage of the glue-down cork flooring is their humidity resistance since the cork bark has cellular structure. This cell consists of suberin crystals and fridelin (or cerine), as well as amorphous substance and big amount of gas or air, that does not squeeze out under material compression. Due to this, the glue-down cork flooring has high elasticity and low humidity and gas permeability.

House heat insulation

According to heat insulation features, MFD and HDF 12 mm tiles are equivalent to the brick wall of 150 mm thickness or concrete panel of 260 mm thickness. The heat permeability coefficient of the given materials is R=0.09, while the heat insulation features of the cork planks of 8 mm thickness is equal to R=0.043. Therefore, the cork planks keep the heat two times batter than the floors with the MDF and HDF core.
The cork was used in different industrial areas as a great insulation material for a long time. It is applied in energetics, in construction, in automobile, aviation and even space industries. Since it has the lowest heat permeability level (R=0.043) within the fire-proof insulation materials, the cork has the greatest elasticity at the same time. For this reason, the cork flooring can be used as a good heat insulation material.

Premises soundproofing

The sound absorption degree of the finishing materials is evaluated by the sound absorption coefficient. The absorption coefficient varies in the range from 0 to 1. With zero coefficient value, the sound fully reverberates. If the sound is completely absorbed, the coefficient is equal to one. The sound absorbing materials are the materials that have the sound absorption coefficient not less than 0.4. The floating cork flooring with the MDF and HDF core has the sound absorption values equal to 0.4-0.6 (To compare, the glue-down cork flooring has the sound absorption coefficient equal to 0.85).
Glue-down flooring perfectly absorbs sounds, as this material sound absorption coefficient is equal to 0.85, consequently, the thicker the material, the higher the values. If you like listening music loud or you have a home theatre system, the cork flooring become the best solution for your interior finish. There is one “but”: if you have the noisy neighbors you should not trust in the cork floors and walls, they will not be a reliable protection from the outside noise. Only if you will be able to make the neighbors interested in the cork interior and they install the cork flooring, in this case both sides win.

Cork flooring durability and maintainability

The floating cork flooring can serve for 5-7 years if the maintenance conditions are met. After this period the crack begin to appear. It is important to know, that because of the lock joints vulnerability, the floating floors are recommended to be installed and used only in dry and heated premises in the cold seasons. That is, the glue-down flooring is not suitable for summer houses, bathrooms and other similar premises. If the tile was damaged it will be necessary to dismantle the floor part until the damaged part. However, it can be done only if the floor was installed no more than 6 months ago, since after longer maintenance period the locks will be damage and to dismantle the floors will be impossible by then.
Due to its composition, the cork is resilient to high premise humidity, to mold impact and other microorganisms impact. As a result it has almost unlimited maintenance period. Once installed glue-down cork floor will be able to serve for about 10 years, after that it requires to be covered with varnish layer. To dismantle the damaged element in the glue-down variant is much simpler, than in the floating floors. It is necessary to remove the damaged flooring element and change it with the new one. Moreover, if the dismantling was performed skillfully, the part, that was repaired, would even not be seen.

Ease and simplicity of use

The floating cork floor requires the same reverential attitude as the parquet. It is necessary to be attentive to the floors from the floating cork and not to allow their contact with excess water amount.
The glue-down floor does not require any special maintenance conditions. The cork flooring is not demanding. It does not require to be routinely polished with special protection agents. It is sufficient to regularly clean it with the moist rag. They will be please you for a long time with their original state.

Price for floating and glue-down cork

Prices for the floating cork floor start form RUB 1500. You can install this floor by yourself preparing the base in advance. The additional consumable items are the backerboard for the floating floor, about RUB 200 for square meter, and, considering the producers recommendations, the covering with additional protective varnish layer. It is necessary to remember, that giving money for the floating cork, you primarily buy not the cork material itself but the lock joint, that consists of HDF or MDF on 70%.
Prices for the glue-down cork floor directly depend on the cork plank thickness. The prices start from RUB 800; however, it is necessary to add to this sum the price of the associated goods like glue, varnish, as well as the work of the installation specialist. The varnish price is RUB 196 for the square meter in one layer; the glue is RUB 150 for meter. In some collections the additional polish of the cork material is not required, that, consequently, decrease the final cost of the glue-down cork floor. If desired the customer can install the glue-down cork floor by himself, based on the instructions that are given on the manufacturer box.


To conclude it is can be summarized that the glue-down variant of the cork flooring wins with the great advantage (with the score 8:1). Unfortunately, the floating variant can display all the range of the positive qualities, peculiar for the glue-down cork. It is possible, that the customer will have the illusion that the cork floors are expensive but it is a long-outdated myth. In fact, if to calculate the final price of the square meter it can be a relatively great amount. However, it is fully comparable with the price of the qualitative laminate. If to compare the glue-down cork with floating one by one segment (natural cork, print, etc.), the price of the glue-down cork can even be a little less. In any case, having almost the same price, the glue-down cork goes ahead of the floating cork by many parameters. It should be remembered, that if you decided to fit up the interior of your home, then you certainly want it to be for “the long haul”. Cork floors will help you with that (especially glue-down ones)!