By Reginald Tucker—Cork and bamboo. They might not have the widespread, mainstream appeal as other resilient and hardwood floor coverings that are so wildly popular today, but that by no means minimizes the positive attributes both flooring categories offer residential and commercial end users alike.
From their well-documented environmentally friendly benefits to their unique visual characteristics, cork and bamboo flooring provide a desirable alternative to many of the commodity-driven hard surface products in abundance in the industry today. Thirty years ago, few people installed bamboo floors in their home or business; today, bamboo is widely available. It’s also more affordable (but definitely not cheap), especially when compared to the rapidly rising costs of competing hardwood species such as cherry, hickory and European white oak species. (Note: Bamboo flooring is actually derived from sustainably harvested grass.)
Not to be outdone, cork flooring—which is culled from the bark of the quercus suber tree that grows in the Mediterranean Basin—has its own key attributes and selling points. Not only are the trees that yield cork bark preserved, but they can regenerate their bark numerous times over the course of the life of the tree.
Following is a sampling of some of what’s available from several cork and bamboo suppliers.
The Amorim WISE portfolio combines the unique properties and sustainability of cork with innovative design and state-of-the-art technology.
Billed as a high-end product that combines high quality with avant-garde and unique design, the line is available in three different types of visuals—cork, wood and stone—and two formats (Inspire 700 and Pure) for a seemingly endless array of color combinations and design options.
One standout collection is Origem, which captures the essence of the colors from the Montado, the fragile and important ecosystem where cork has its origins. The greens and oranges found in the Mediterranean region where cork is harvested serve as inspiration behind the colors, while the addition of bright yellow and grey tones provide contrasting elements.
Cali recently look the wraps off Cali Cork, a four-SKU collection of enhanced cork floors that remain true to the material’s renewable, eco-friendly roots. Planks are topped with a high-resistance finish, making them easier to clean and better protected from scratches and the build-up of dirt. The cork material used in both the top visual layer and bottom underlayment is naturally water resistant, sound insulating, antimicrobial and temperature regulating. Cali Cork flooring is also capable of absorbing impacts without losing its shape.
Cali, known for its focus on green flooring offerings as well as its eco-conscious sourcing philosophy, also has a strong presence in the bamboo arena. The company aims to differentiate itself in the niche bamboo field via innovative manufacturing processes and responsible sourcing. “True to our roots, bamboo is still king at Cali,” said Mike Belprez, director of product management and innovation, Cali. “Whether engineered or solid, this ultra-sustainable material remains the best-selling species in our portfolio.” Pictured above is bamboo in Bordeaux.
Opus Floors Canada, in partnership with Portugal-based Corksribas, offers the Green Flow cork flooring collection. Using 1000 dpi digital printing technology, Opus Floors is able to provide cork visuals with fewer pattern repeats, according to Vern Verkley, president. Trendy visuals such as mosaic/ceramic looks as well as traditional wood visuals are possible thanks to an advanced screening and imaging process. Beyond aesthetics, Green Flow also touts high durability. According to the company, Green Flow floors are highly stable in installations up to 3,200 square feet without transitions.
Corkoleum from WE Cork offers end users a waterproof flooring solution for bathrooms, kitchens and pool houses, or any area that is subject to water or moisture. Backed with a composition of rubber and cork and finished on site, Corkoleum repels moisture and offers a rugged floor for any home, office or commercial setting. As it is installed unfinished, a stain can be applied to coordinate with all interiors. “It’s really getting a lot of attention, especially in commercial applications,” said Ann Wicander, president.
Another standout product in the WE Cork line is Eco Nomical, which is designed to provide a good value with a compelling eco-friendly story. Cork stoppers are used in the pattern, and the collection is available in four popular colors. Eco Nomical (pictured above) offers a great option for those clients on a budget but still want thermal insulation below or on grade, sound insulation in a second story application or a comfortable floor that’s more comfortable for aging joints. The product is also GreenGuard Gold certified.
HDPC waterproof bamboo flooring couples the performance virtues of rigid core flooring with the unique character of real strand bamboo. Eco-friendly, HDPC strand bamboo is twice as hard as oak and tolerant to temperature fluctuations while remaining stable in the most demanding environments.
“Wellmade remains at the forefront of flooring technology with its patented HDPC rigid core flooring,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing. “In addition to offering 100% waterproof performance, HDPC flooring provides increased density and superior thermal properties that yield a dimensionally stable floor that is perfect for high-traffic areas prone to moisture.”
CorkWood from Torlys brings together the look of wood, the durability of laminate and the comfort of cork. It comes in two collections: CorkWood Designer, which features 6-foot planks in nine colors; and CorkWood Elite, available in planks spanning nearly 4-feet long and five colors. CorkWood is engineered with a HDF smart core for dent resistance and a 3mm (Designer) or 2.5mm (Elite) thick top layer of compressed cork. It also includes the Torlys CorkPlus attached underlayment for added warmth and sound insulation.