Cork delivers an incredible value of sustainability
WHY CORK. Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree, which grows mainly in the Mediterranean region of the world. This tree has a life span of about 200 years. Each cork tree must be 20 to 25 years old before it can provide its first harvest of cork. After extracting the cork a new layer starts generating and nine years have to pass until a new harvest can take place. The cork harvesting is made in a sustainable manner and does not harm the tree which is never cut down or removed.
With the increasing concern for the environment, cork oak remains the only tree whose bark can regenerate itself after harvest leaving the tree unharmed. Furthermore, the cork oak tree has the remarkable capacity to retain carbon and a harvested cork tree fixates almost five times more carbon. These exceptional characteristics make cork a naturally sustainable product and its use contributes to the preservation of a unique habitat in the world.
Cork is the perfect environmentally friendly material and the ideal option when looking for floor and wall coverings that offer a naturally sustainable alternative. It is also amazingly versatile, and designers can explore the material in a surprisingly creative fashion. By altering colour and the way the cork is ‘laid up’ it becomes possible to create a whole range of textures and visual effects, without upsetting performance and maintaining cork’s natural properties.
With over 40 million natural “cushion cells” per cubic centimetre, cork is a natural sound and thermal insulator, comfortable underfoot, quiet, warm and pleasant to the touch.
Cork floors do not absorb dust and are resistant to bacteria and fungus. They do not cause allergies nor pose a risk to asthma sufferers and have very low volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions.
Characteristics of Cork
The bark of the cork oak tree has a unique honeycomb structure composed of tiny cells filled entirely with air. The properties of cork derive naturally from the structure and chemical composition of the extremely strong and flexible membranes, which are also waterproof and airtight. Each cubic centimetre of cork’s structure contains between 30 and 40 million cells.
Some of cork’s most unique and useful characteristics are:
Around 80% of the cork volume consists of gaseous matter, which makes cork extremely light and buoyant.
Elasticity and Resiliency:
The cellular membranes are very flexible, making the cork both compressible and elastic. These characteristics, together with other qualities, largely explain how cork has become indispensable for stoppers manufacturing.
When cork is subjected to strong pressure the gas in the cells is compressed and reduces considerably in volume. When released from pressure cork immediately recovers its original volume.
The presence of suberin (a complex mixture of fatty acids and heavy organic alcohol) renders cork impermeable to both liquids and gases. As a result it does not rot, and may therefore be considered one of the best seals available.
Cork has one of the best insulating capacities, thermal and acoustical, of all natural substances. This is due to the fact that the gaseous elements are sealed in tiny, impermeable compartments, insulated one from the other by a moisture resistant material.
Cork is a natural fire retardant as it does not spread flames and does not release toxic gases during combustion.
Cork is also remarkably resistant to wear and has a high friction coefficient. Thanks to the honeycomb structure, it is less affected by impact and friction that other hard surfaces.
Cork does not absorb dust and, consequently, does not cause allergies nor pose a risk to asthma sufferers.
Biodegradable, recyclable and renewable:
Cork is a natural raw material which is 100% biodegradable, recyclable and renewable.