Quercus suber

Appearance

Cork

Shown with water-based finish (top), and oil-based finish (bottom)

Color: Varies from light to dark; many colors available depending on manufacturer.

Grain: Distinctive look unlike wood—cork is actually the bark of a type of oak.

Species & Grade Variations: Many patterns available depending on manufacturer.

Properties

Hardness (Janka): Varies.

Dimensional Stability: Cork reacts quickly, sometimes within hours, to changes in moisture. (Typical dimensional stability measurements do not apply to cork’s composite construction.)

Workability

Sawing/Machining: Cork may be cut with a utility knife.

Sanding: Use the finest grit possible to flatten the floor. The following sequences are recommended for use only with a multi-disc sander or a hardplate on a buffer. If the edger is used, fine sandpaper (100/120/150) should be backed with a maroon pad. Small orbital sanders or hand-sanding are recommended for corners and wall lines, as hand-scrapers
may gouge the cork.

Suggested Sequence

  • First Cut: 100
  • Second Cut: 120
  • Third Cut: Not recommended
  • Hard Plate: 120 or 150
  • First Screen: 120
  • Second Screen: 120

Nailing: Cork is installed using adhesive.

Finishing: All surface-type finishes are successfully used on cork (choose a finish that will bend as the cork compresses). Oil-and-wax also is used frequently.

Comments: Pay particular attention to subfloor preparation, as cork is very sensitive to moisture, and also transfers any imperfections in the subfloor to the surface appearance.

Origin

Spain and Portugal.

Availability

Readily available.