Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is highly resistant to water, comfortable, warm, and environmentally friendly. We have too many customers to list that love their cork floor!

Where does cork come from?

Cork is the bark of a Cork Oak. If you live in the States, you’re most likely familiar with a Beach or Chestnut tree which are both in the same family as a cork oak. The main difference between the cork oak and the chestnut and beach tree are three-fold. First, the bark of cork oak is significantly thicker and more resilient than those of other trees. Second, cork oak is native to the western Mediterranean basin, in countries such as: North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco), southern France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Third, a cork tree can grow in some of the most inhospitable and barren land you can possible imagine.

Yet, it is trait, among many, that makes cork oak so incredible. Few trees have the capacity to adapt to soils virtually incapable of supporting any other economically viable crop. Moreover, cork oaks create an ecological balance by preventing further degradation to this barren micro-climate. They are sturdy, stocky, resilient trees that make few demands on either humans or the environment.

Cork trees flourish in areas with little rain or nutrition. They grow in sandy chalk-free soils with low levels of nitrogen and high levels of potassium. The climate never falls below -5 degrees Celsius, nor may there be much rainfall (between 600-800 millimeters per year), leaving us with very few areas like Portugal where it has thrived for millions of years. There are more than 725,000 hectares of cork forest in Portugal alone, equivalent to 30% of the world cork oak population. And as a result of the way cork is harvested — shaved off the sides of trees in much the same way a sheep is shorn — means forests continue to thrive in areas where other economically viable crops cannot.

The Portuguese government has taken several precautions to protect the cork oaks by strictly enforcing a law that forbids any cork oak to be cut down or the bark stripped more than every 9 years. Therefore, in a tree’s lifespan of 150 to 200 years, bark can be stripped between 8 to 15 times! I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t have a clue. I knew the bark can regenerate, but I had no idea the amount times it could potentially be harvested, nor did I know that it isn’t until the tree reaches approximately 27 years until the first harvest called, Virgin cork (or ‘male’ cork) can be taken. While industrial products can be made from the first three harvests, it isn’t until the tree is approximately 54 years of age until the first wine closures can be made from the bark.

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