Can I Use Cork Flooring in My Kitchen?

We’ve often talked about how cork flooring is a great choice in various rooms of the home, especially where comfort is concerned. Bathrooms and kitchens are two areas that come under scrutiny with cork flooring, and while we don’t recommend it for bathrooms, it is very popular in kitchens. In this guide, we are going to take a closer look at bamboo flooring and talk about the dos and don’ts of using it in kitchens.

Cork Confusion

It’s safe to say that everyone has some experience with cork. Whether you’ve tacked a note to a cork bulletin board or opened a bottle of wine; cork is a useful material. It’s also renewable and only grown in certain parts of the globe, where the bark is harvested while the tree is still alive.

Cork has several unique natural properties to go with its interesting style. It’s hypoallergenic, and the bark is fire-resistant which helps protect the trees in a forest fire. Insects and termites don’t like to munch on cork, and suberin makes it highly resistant to mold or mildew as well.

While it may sound like the perfect material, there are some disadvantages to using cork. It’s softer than hardwoods and not as resistant to water as synthetics like luxury vinyl flooring. Two things to keep in mind if you plan to install cork flooring in a kitchen.

Cork Flooring in Kitchens

One reason homeowners enjoy using cork in a kitchen is comfort. It’s an area of the home where people are on their feet for long periods of time. That can lead to fatigue, something cork can alleviate with its spongy surface.

Before you start choosing a style of cork flooring for your kitchen, consider the placement of objects in the room. Most cork is considered “floating” flooring, which means it’s not installed beneath floor cabinets or islands. That’s important when figuring the square footage for your project, but not the only thing to consider.

What kind of kitchen table do you have? Are there going to be a lot of heavy appliances in the room? Cork scratches easier than all forms of engineered hardwood, so you don’t want to drag refrigerators or stoves across the surface. It can be gouged by anything sharp, which may require an entire board to be replaced.

Felt protectors will work on light furniture and things like kitchen chairs. Furniture coasters can also help along with pre-cut cork pads. With heavy appliances, you need to distribute the weight, so a wider coaster or carpet-bottom caster cups may be the best solution.

But what about moisture?

The other issue in kitchens is water or moisture, something that can affect any type of organic flooring. Cork falls into that category along with hardwood, laminate, and all forms of engineered wood flooring including bamboo. Some species are more resistant to water, however, and cork is one of them.

There are two options for kitchens where water is a concern. A handful of companies produce waterproof cork flooring, most of which have a PVC core. Engineered wood products usually have a core made from fiberboard, a wood byproduct that doesn’t do well with water. While the selection is slim, these planks are your best choice.

Alternatively, there is water-resistant cork flooring and the wear layer or topcoat provides protection as well. You should always follow the care sheet for the flooring, but we found that most engineered cork products can be damp mopped or spot cleaned with no issues.

Cork Alternatives for Kitchens

Whether you’re not sure if cork is the right fit or prefer something with a more understated style, there are several excellent flooring options for kitchens. The best doesn’t look like cork but can resemble stone or a number of hardwood species, however.

Luxury vinyl planks and luxury vinyl tiles are the best flooring for bathrooms and ideal for kitchens. These floors are largely made from PVC, so they are naturally resistant to water and many are listed as waterproof. They are just as easy to install as cork but come in far more colors, styles, and sizes than other forms of multi-layered flooring.

Tile is another great choice for kitchens and one that provides just as many options like luxury vinyl from a style standpoint. You do have to make sure the tile is sealed and a surface textured enough to prevent falls, but tile floors are resilient, durable, and easy to care for.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, cork is an excellent option for kitchens and ideal for homeowners that spend a lot of time in those areas on their feet. It’s just as popular on the walls as well, if you are truly looking for something unique. Just remember to keep cabinets in mind along and consider waterproof cork flooring if you are concerned about spills.

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