Sustainability has been a hot topic for a good few years now and designers are increasingly looking for materials that have a lesser impact on the environment. Materials that are recycled, recyclable, or come from renewable sources are gaining in popularity and really starting to make their mark in design and architecture.
Cork’s innate renewability is considered its finest feature as it can be harvested from the outer bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus Suber) without causing harm and leaving the tree to regenerate. Cork trees, generally found in Mediterranean countries, are slow growing and can live up to 250 years with the harvesting cycle typically occurring every nine years. Initially, the tree needs to mature for approximately 25 years to allow the trees’ cellular structure to mature which produces the thermal and acoustic properties of cork.
Cork’s naturally anti-microbial attributes combat mould and its anti-static surface eliminates dust and toxin absorption, making it ideal for people with allergies and a material that contributes to cleaner air space. Its soft surface also results in less pressure on people with knee problems or seniors looking for absorption support under their feet.
Cork can earn points toward Green Star and LEED certification for its renewable and biodegradable properties. According to the World Wildlife Federation, a cork tree that has its bark removed every nine years will absorb up to five times as much CO2 than a similar tree that is left idle.
DURABILITY AND LONGEVITY
Cork has been known to last up to 50 years when used in interiors thanks to its resilience to pressure, which makes it very suitable for high traffic areas such as flooring in hallways or on kitchen counter tops. Cork is used extensively as a backing to many other materials for its compressive strength and as a backing to many other materials for its acoustic and thermal attributes.
Beyond flooring, benches and wall coverings, cork furniture and upholstery are gaining momentum in interior design. Cork can be ground and shaved to be applied to soft furnishings while its natural grain can be tinted and stained to develop a multitude of pattern and colour finishes. Cork is waterproof and fire retardant, so application in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries is quite popular from flooring to cabinetry and bench tops. Its insulating qualities allow it to absorb and retain heat while it is applied to many commercial buildings for its acoustic properties. 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.
More benefits of cork
Naturally Fire retardant
Noise impact and vibration resistant
Strong and durable – 50 000 Martindale rubs
Water and stain resistant
Impermeable to liquids and gasses
Dust, Dirt and grease repellent
100% Recyclable, eco-friendly, renewable
Hypoallergenic-resistant to bacteriaand fungus
Elastic and compressible reducing strain on muscles
Ideal for Asthmaand allergy sufferers
Easy to clean with a damp cloth
Highly suitable for children
Quick and easy to install