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Cork | How it's Made

Cork flooring comes in a variety of types – natural cork flooring, a cork + vinyl combination, and cork that uses digital impression technology to offer the visual look of wood or stone.  Okanagan Hardwood Flooring carries exceptional cork flooring products from the finest Canadian manufacturers.

Cork is an amazing natural material that is harvested from the bark of the Cork Oak tree.  This harvesting is a sustainable process – the tree is not cut down, its bark regenerates itself after being harvested. It is a truly environmentally resource.  Most the world’s cork is sourced from Spain and Portugal.

Harvesting happens about every nine years, once the Cork Oak tree reaches maturity.  The bark is stripped by highly skilled workers, all done by hand, during the mid-summer months when the bark begins to pull away from the live tissue of the tree.  The trees are then marked with the year of harvest, to ensure that the bark is not harvested too soon.

Manufacturing begins after the stripped planks have been stacked for 6 months.  Steaming is next, to remove contaminants and the outside layer of bark, and to increase flexibility.  After storing for another few weeks, the cork is ready for use.  There is virtually no waste – wine and champagne stoppers, cork boards, fashion accessories – every bit of the cork is usable.  Cork for flooring is baked after the steaming process, and is then sorted by colour and ready to be formed into planks or tiles.

Production of cork flooring planks and tiles is achieved in many ways, depending on the manufacturer.  Some companies use an engineered multilayer process – starting with an insulating cork underlay, topping with high density fiberboard, agglomerated cork, genuine cork veneer and then topped with a protective wear layer.  Others use a polyurethane resin as a binding agent to maintain the characteristics of the cork.  Cork flooring can be unfinished and natural, or coated with a wear layer for floating floors or glue-downs.  Cork that has a protective vinyl layer makes for an extremely resilient flooring, which is easy to maintain and water resistant, while remaining eco-friendly due to the vinyl being made of recycled content.  And finally, cork flooring, with the benefit of the latest digital impression technology, can now offer the visual look of wood or stone products, while maintaining the benefits of cork – warmth, acoustic insulation and comfort.