About a year and a half ago, I (Emily), took the LEED accreditation exam. After hundreds of hours of studying and preparation and a two hour exam, six letters now follow my name…which mean very little to the bulk of the population. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and deals with putting that buzzword “green” into practice. LEED was started by the United States Green Building Council to provide guidelines and standards for making “green” a less elusive term and setting it into practice across the world.
But you’re probably a homeowner, just wanting to pull your house together so that the neighbors compliment you relentlessly when they stop by and so that your friends believe that you, yes you, really have done it all—carting the exceptionally bright kids to competitive sporting events, having your dream job and being phenomenally successful at what you do all while having a spotlessly clean home that should really be pictured in a major interior design magazine! Right? Isn’t that what you’re going for? Not all this eco-business?
This weekly feature will introduce you to tips, terminology, and products that actually matter to the average homeowner (even if you could hardly qualify as casually “green”) and save you money.
This week, I’d like to introduce cork flooring.
First off, here’s what it looks like installed:
Cork works its way seamlessly into this fairly traditional kitchen, providing the warmth of wood with the practicality of a resilient floor in an area that sees a lot of standing.
Cork flooring is exceptionally versatile, coming in planks or tiles, which can be combined to create beautiful wood looks (first image) or tile looks (above).
These cute penny round tiles would look adorable in your kids bath or powder bath, don’t you think? They can be stained most any color, offering the look of a mosaic floor or ceramic penny rounds, with the resilience of cork!
Believe it or not, it’s cork! You can even get an exotic or traditional wood inlay look with this product.
What makes it green?
· Long lifecycle. The majority of cork flooring is made of recycled cork. Very little waste is produced in its production. What is can be recycled for insulation or other purposes. Cork has a long life (50-75 years), can be refinished (just like wood!), and is completely biodegradable when it’s time for a change.
· Maintains heat and cold, so you don’t spend your Christmas fund on your outrageous utility bill. And, it’s warm underfoot, so you can forget icicle toes on the cold kitchen floor while you try to make your morning cup of coffee.
· Cork oak trees can be harvested more frequently than hardwood, harvesting three times for every hardwood harvest. Whoa…cork comes from a tree? you may be saying. Yep, see?
Cork is what is under the bark on the cork oak tree. The tree can be harvested of cork without harming or falling the tree!
Why is you NEED it in your home…
· Cork is naturally hypo-allergenic, insect resistant, and fire-resistant.
· Cork is insulative, making it great for maintaining room temperature, providing a sound barrier, and reducing impact on your bones and joints. It’s a fantastic sound barrier, making it the perfect choice for your teenage boy’s disaster of a bedroom/gaming epi-center/aspiring music studio. It’s equally great for your rec room, your kitchen, or your bathroom.
· Cork can be installed above or below grade—meaning that you can install this in your basement if you’d like and you won’t hear that annoying hollow sound other flooring can produce, you’ll create an insulative barrier in one of the colder areas of your home, and provide a surface resilient enough for the casual living that takes place in basements.