Cork is a popular topic in this the age of ‘Global Warming’. The question on everyone’s lips is—What is cork? After all most of us think cork is just a backboard that we tack memos and pictures to. Well, that’s not all it does. |
First and foremost, cork is an all-natural product, produced from the bark of the QuercusSuber tree, also known as the cork oak tree. This species is cultivated mainly in the areas of Portugal, Spain and the Mediterranean Basin. The bark is carefully harvested from the tree. After the top layer of bark is stripped off, the tree is then left to regenerate and grow new bark. This interval will take up to about nine years before the regenerated bark is ready for to be harvested again.
Cork harvests are performed by hand by skilled workers and their tools. To date, there is no mechanized way to split the bark of the cork oak. This is a highly specialized process and workers who harvest oak make their living off of this specialty. It takes several people several hours to peel a single tree. This skill takes years to learn and requires not only physical strength but a deft touch. Only those can be trusted with harvesting such a crop.
As a way of life, cork harvesting is a needed form of income in areas where permanent jobs are scarce.And while Mediterranean countries are often hardest hit during any lull in the economy, being a worker in the cork industry is a stable, life-long occupation with room for advancement. Entire villages in Spain, Portugal and Italy are dependent on cork to for their livelihoods.
Cork itself is composed of dead cells that have gathered on the surface of the tree, forming the ‘skin’. Each of these cells has an average of fourteen polygon sides. These cells are packed together in a honeycomb like structure, but because of their irregular shape they have a lot of empty spaces between each cell formation.The air trapped inside the cellular structure of cork provides a natural shock absorption. On a floor this will aid in reducing impact to the joints of the knees and ankles while walking.The same cellular structure that makes the floor comfortable also reduces noise and vibration.
Cork is also anti-allergenic and resistant to insects. A naturally occurring waxy substance in cork called Suberin repels insects, mites and mold and protects cork from rotting when wet for a long time. In addition, suberin is naturally fire resistant and cork doesn't release any toxic off-gassing when it burns.
Now that you know it bit more about cork, when I tell you it comes as a flooring and walling material you won’t be so shocked. And it does. Check it out, buy it and put it in your home. Then live the difference.
Cork is an excellent insulator of heat and sound and is the perfect material to be used for flooring and even on the walls. You will find a diverse range of Cork glue down tile as well as cork wall tiles at iCorkFloors.
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