Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is amazing with all the properties that are inherent to it, here at Floorcoverings of Marin County we display more Cork Flooring than anywhere else in Marin County.

Cork is an impermeable buoyant material, a prime-subset of bark tissue that is harvested for commercial use primarily from (the Cork Oak), which is endemic to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. Cork is composed of suberin, a hydrophobics substance, and because of its impermeability, buoyancy, elasticity, and fire resistance, it is used in a variety of products, the most common of which is for wine stoppers. The Montado landscape of Portugal produces approximately 50% of cork harvested annually worldwide.

Cork is extracted only from early May to late August, when the cork can be separated from the tree without causing permanent damage. When the tree reaches 25-30 years of age and about 24in (60cm) in circumference, the cork can be removed for the first time. However, this first harvest almost always produces poor quality or "male" cork. Subsequent extractions usually occur at intervals of 9 years, though it can take up to 13 for the cork to reach an acceptable size. If the product is of high quality it is known as "gentle" cork, and, ideally, is used to make stoppers for wine and champagne bottles.

The workers who specialize in removing the cork are known as extractors. Extractors use a very sharp axe to make two types of cuts on the tree: one horizontal cut around the plant, called a crown or necklace, at a height of about 2-3 times the circumference of the tree, and several vertical cuts called rulers or openings. This is the most delicate phase of the work because, even though cutting the cork requires quite a bit of strength, the extractor must not damage the underlying Phellogen or the tree will die.

To free the cork from the tree, the extractor pushes the handle of the axe into the rulers. A good extractor needs to use a firm but precise touch in order to free a large amount of cork without damaging the product or tree.

These freed portions of the cork are called planks. The planks usually have to be carried off by hand since cork forests are rarely accessible for vehicles. Finally, the cork is stacked and traditionally left to dry, from where it can be loaded onto a truck and shipped to a processor.

The Cork Oak is unrelated to the "cork trees" which have corky bark but are not used for cork production.

The cork industry is generally regarded as environmentally friendly. The sustainability of production and the easy recycling of cork products and by-products are two of its most distinctive aspects. Cork Oak forests also prevent desertification and are a particular habitat in the Liberian Peninsula and the refuge of various endangered species.

Carbon Footprint studies committed by Oeneo Bouchage of France and the Cork Supply Group of Portugal concluded that cork is the most environmentally friendly in comparison to other alternatives.