Know the Pros and Cons of Cork Flooring Before Installing It in Your Home

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated August 18, 2022
Professional installing cork floor by a floating method
Photo: andrey gonchar / Adobe Stock

Cork flooring is affordable and will keep your toes warm, but it might not be the best fit for pet owners

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When it comes to types of flooring, there are so. many. options. But if you value easy maintenance, affordability, and natural materials, cork floors might be your best fit. And (bonus!) if you suffer from allergies, cork is considered to be hypoallergenic and can help keep those sniffles at bay. 

This guide will walk you through the benefits—and drawbacks—of this natural flooring material.

Pros of Cork Flooring

Comparison or the pros and cons of cork flooring, with being soundproof and having easy maintenance listed as a pro

Cork has a lot of benefits, including:

Comparable Pricing

Cork flooring costs between $2 and $8 per foot, which is around what you can expect for other types of flooring, including bamboo or carpet. Compared to the costs of some types of hardwood floors, though, you’ll probably save money by going with cork.

Vinyl and laminate floors may be more affordable, but won’t necessarily offer the same benefits, especially if you’re looking to install natural materials into your home.

Made With Natural Materials

Cork floors are made from cork oak tree bark. These materials are sustainable, good for people with allergies, and biodegradable, meaning they will naturally break down after its time in your home is over. They’re also long-lasting—well-maintained cork floors can last up to 40 years.

Cork gives your home a natural look that pairs well with a wide variety of looks. If soft pastels are your thing, cork will complement it. Feeling dark cream walls? Cork will fit in there, too.

Easy Maintenance

Regular sweeping and vacuuming, plus mopping with water or a mild wood floor cleaner, is all you need to keep your cork floors clean. In fact, using harsh chemicals (like ammonia or bleach) can ruin your cork.

Solid Durability

Cork is naturally springy and typically bounces back to its original shape, so areas with high foot traffic are a great fit for this material. Unlike hardwood, small scratches will blend in with the floor’s design.

Low-Impact Feel

Cork has a comfortable, low-impact feel on your feet that feels soft and springy under your bare feet. It’s also a good option for rooms where you’re on your feet a lot, like a home office with a standing desk.

Naturally Soundproof

Cork’s natural acoustic insulating qualities can help soundproof your home. This means it offers unique advantages compared to other flooring, especially in rooms above basement apartments, home offices, or hangout spots.

Stays Warm

Let’s face it: no one likes wearing socks around the house 24/7. Fortunately, cork offers an advantage that tile, hardwood, and other stiff surfaces simply can’t in the warmth department. Unlike tile and hardwood, which tends to get cold underfoot in winter, cork does a great job of maintaining room temperature. Cold toes will be a problem of the past!


A kid sitting on a cork floor while playing with toys
Photo: OlgaKhorkova / Adobe Stock

Cork is naturally water-resistant, which (fun fact!) is why it's used to seal wine bottles. This makes it a great material for surfaces where kids play or eat (aka, places prone to messes). Just make sure you clean up any spills right away.

Cons of Cork Flooring

Nothing is without its faults, and that goes for cork, too.

Sensitive to Light

If you like to keep your curtains pulled back to let in natural light, cork might not be the best fit for your home. Heavy sunlight is known to discolor floors and could create light patches over time, and no one wants a patchy, discolored floor.

Must Be Sealed to Prevent Swelling

While cork is naturally water-resistant, your floors will eventually absorb liquids if they’re allowed to sit long enough. Once liquid is absorbed, your cork floors could swell or fall apart. This can be costly, as the cost to repair flooring can be as much as $500.

Polyurethane or wax sealants typically come with cork floor installation. These need to be reapplied every two to three years.

Not as Durable as Some Types of Floors

Cork is definitely durable, but synthetic materials like vinyl and linoleum can withstand the pressure of heavy objects better than cork. Rearranging your living room (especially dragging heavy furniture like a couch) could leave permanent dents in your cork floors.

And, like other types of hardwood that changes with each season, cork may expand or contract due to moisture.

May Not Be Great for Pet Owners

If your dog likes to zoom around your house or your kitty has a tendency to stretch and scratch, cork is probably not the best material for your floor. It’s easy for your pet to irreversibly damage sections of your floor.

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