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Cork ... Environmental friend or foe?



The cork used for our cork tiles comes from the bark of the cork oak tree (the Quercus suber) harvested in Portugal.


Cork trees are grown in the semi-arid climate of the Mediterranean, East Africa and Australia. Individual trees have a life of approximately 300 years and can be harvested in continuous cycles for cork production after maturity.


As the tree grows it develops a thick bark containing high levels of suberin, a naturally occurring waterproofing waxy type substance.


After the tree reaches maturity at about 25 years, the cork bark is stripped from the trunks and harvested on a 9 -14 year cycle. Harvesting is not only important for the longevity of the tree, but also encourages suberin production necessary for both the tree and integral for the agglomeration of cork when turning it into tiles and other products.


This process means that no trees are felled for harvesting purposes and the bark will continue to regrow, making it a truly renewable resource.


So how does Cork go from being on the tree to on your floor?


Once harvested, the cork bark is ‘seasoned’ in the field for 12 months. This ‘seasoning’ will both ‘age’ the cork and ‘dry’ the naturally occurring oils and resins. The seasoned cork is then steamed clean and the natural bio-organisms growing on the bark are removed. At this stage, the cork is assessed with the thickest part of the bark is used for wine corks and the remainder granulated.


Cork tiles are produced from the granulated cork bark and in accordance with ISO3813:2004.


The granules are washed and then formed into large blocks using 300 to 500 kilogram per m3 of steam pressure.


The heating process releases naturally occurring resins within the cork which solidify when cooled and bind the compressed granules together.


Another benefit is that naturally occurring resins eliminate the need for adhesive or other binding concentrates resulting in no additives to the natural structure and an environmentally friendly and sustainable flooring product. There is no need for the use of formaldehydes and other harful chemicals, as is found in bamboo flooring production, because cork has a natural process that eliminates the need for any harmful contributors.


The blocks, once compressed, are sliced to form large sheets which, in turn, are cut to form tiles.


This process means that from harvest to installation, the tiles are truly sustainable and retain the insulating and resilient properties of natural cork.


Enjoy a cork floor today!




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