Question

I am looking for green flooring options for my basement. I would like cork, but not sure it will work well.

Asked by Lisa Younger
Hyattsville, MD

I'm purchasing a 1960s split-level that has vinyl flooring that I want to replace with cork.

Answer

Answered by Erick Meyenberg

Carmel, CA

Bayview Construction & Design Inc.

September 2, 2010

Cork is a good choice, but I would also think about bamboo. Bamboo flooring is unlike any other material when it comes to covering a floor. Many homeowners are just now discovering why bamboo is becoming such a popular choice in new home construction as well as older homes.

But is bamboo flooring a better choice than cork flooring? That all depends upon what characteristics the homeowner is looking for in a new floor.

  • Is the homeowner looking for a softer feel from the floor? If so, cork flooring is a terrific choice. Cork is a very soft material and has a nice spongelike feel when walking or standing on it.
  • Cork also has a nice bounce-back effect when something is dropped on it, such as kids' toys. However, because cork is a softer material than bamboo, it is easily scratched. When compared to cork, bamboo flooring is a much harder surface. It has most of the same properties as hardwood floors.
  • Another property that makes cork a terrific flooring choice is its capability to provide very good sound insulation. This makes cork an excellent choice for upstairs rooms in two-story homes as well as specialized rooms such as home gyms and kids' playrooms. Again, bamboo flooring has the same properties as hardwood floors and, as such, can be very noisy. Bamboo floors will often need to have sound insulation installed to reduce the noise level throughout the house.

There are some disadvantages to cork flooring when compared to bamboo wood flooring.

  • The first disadvantage is that cork needs to be sealed to provide waterproofing and protection from dirt. Cork flooring makes a terrific floor choice for a bathroom or kitchen, but it must be sealed to prevent any leakage from spills or cleaning.
  • Another disadvantage of cork flooring is the limited number of patterns or colors. Many types of resilient flooring have numerous designs and colors to choose from, but cork is limited in this aspect.


For more information:

Read Shannon Demma's Q&A "Should we install cork flooring in our moisture-prone basement?"

You should also read Green Home Guide's "Buyer's Guide to Green Floor Materials" for more information about cork, bamboo, and other eco-friendly options.

Tagged In: bamboo flooring, cork flooring, basement flooring, basement remodeling

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.