Sustainable Materials: Cork

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

Cork was a staple in 1970’s interiors, it had a small slump in popularity but now is back more popular than ever. Using cork might have been previously been a faux pas but it is now seen as an incredibly green and versatile product. As the world moves to create a more ethical and sustainable future, cork has been making waves in interiors, architecture and furniture design and is being used by some of the world’s most famous designers and architects. Aesthetically cork is like hardwood timber floors, there is a raw and timeless appeal as it is sourced from nature – no piece is the same, offering a multitude of grains, textures and colour finishes.

Why do we love cork?

It is seriously renewable:

Cork is sourced from a cork oak tree (Quercus Suber), it is made from the outer bark (which means the tree is not cut down or harmed in the process), the tree is then left to regenerate. The trees are generally found in the Mediterranean, they are slow growing (they can live up to 250 years) and their harvesting cycle generally takes nine years.

There are some excellent health benefits:

Cork has natural anti-microbial qualities that combat mould and has an anti-static surface which eliminates dust and toxin absorption (ideal for people with allergies) and contributes to a cleaner air space.

It is sustainably certified:

According to the World Wildlife Fund, cork trees that has its bark harvested in the nine year cycle will absorb up to five times as much CO2 than a similar tree. Cork can also earn points towards a Green Star and LEED certifications for the materials biodegradable and renewable properties.

Hardwearing and long lasting:

Cork as a product and material is incredibly long lasting, if it is cared for it will last years in your interior. It is great for high traffic areas (flooring in hallways or kitchen benches). It is also used extensively as backing to many other materials to either strengthen, or add acoustic or thermal qualities.

It can be used ANYWHERE:

Cork can literally be used anywhere – it is waterproof and also fire retardant so it can be used in both residential and commercial projects. In the home, it can be used in bathrooms, kitchens, laundries, for flooring and custom joinery. For commercial projects cork is often used for acoustic properties and insulation. Like many natural materials that have been around for centuries, the design industry can expect the continuing resurgence of cork for its environmental benefits and flexible application opportunities in interiors.

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