Question

Is cork a good flooring choice for a basement? Will my cats damage the floor?

Asked by Erin Davidson, Richmond Heights, MO

I own a townhouse and need to redo some of the floors. My first project is the basement. Is cork a good option? Also, I have two cats (with claws). Will they damage the cork? They are big scratchers and love to work out their claws on the carpet in my living room, so I worry that they would do the same to a cork floor.

Answer

Mari Strain

Answered by Mari Strain

Berkeley, CA

Flooring Alternatives

November 6, 2007

Cork is a great option for basements because it is warm underfoot, for condos because it is sound insulating, and for homes with pets because it resists scratches.

  • Cork is also naturally fire resistant, skid resistant, and mold resistant—and it doesn’t outgas.
  • Even better, the cork tree actually benefits from having its outer bark—the cork—removed every decade or so.

I have often been asked the question about cats using the cork floor as a scratching post, and I've never heard bad reports back. Cork flooring is denser than the material used for bulletin boards and is typically sealed with a urethane finish such as you would find on wood flooring. Cats do not appear to be tempted by this resilient surface—particularly not if there is a yummy carpet or sofa readily available.

My main concern with cats and cork or other wood products is that cat urine is very caustic and may compromise the finish. Cork has natural antimicrobial and moisture-resistant properties, but it is best not to rely on them. Applying top coats of finish after installation is a good precaution. In addition, it's a good idea to lay mats in areas that may get wet and to dry any spills immediately.

Cork flooring comes in two installation formats: 100-percent cork tile and click-together flooring with a fiberboard core. Glued-down cork tiles have been in use for over a hundred years. Newer click-together floating cork floors have most of the benefits of the tile format, but the fiberboard core is less resistant to moisture than the cork itself and makes the floor much more likely to retain dents. This type of flooring must be protected from denting by using spreaders or felt under heavy furniture, pads under rolling chairs, and so on—as you would with a typical hardwood floor.

There are many cork patterns and colors, and a few different finish options, to fit most aesthetics and budgets. Globus Cork produces glue-down tiles in a kaleidoscopic range of colors and sizes to mix and match. For floating cork floors, consider Nova Cork. The company delivers a great product and both the cork and the fiberboard core are Forest Stewardship Council–certified.

 

For more information:

GreenHomeGuide's Green Flooring Know-How section includes buyer's guides, case studies, and advice from green professionals.

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

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