- №1. Cork floor production
- №2. Cork floor: pluses
- No. 3. Cork flooring: cons
- №4. Types of cork floor
- №5. Glutinous cork floor
- №6. Locked cork floor
- №7. Cork floor in rolls
- №8. What else to consider when choosing a cork floor?
- №9. The best producers of cork floors
Until recently, the cork was used only for blockages of bottles, but the unique properties of this natural material greatly expanded the scope of its use. Today, the cork oak bark is used in the production of sports goods, furniture, footwear, wallpapers and even in the space industry. Not so long ago, it began to make floor covering, which is still perceived ambiguously: some are from him in real enthusiasm, others are more skeptical. Stores and manufacturers, promoting products, sometimes mislead the buyer, so before you make any decision, you need to know well what the material is. We deal with all aspects of the choice of the cork floor: the pros and cons of the material, its types, styling options and the main producers.
№1. Cork floor production
For the production of cork, wood is used for cork oak, which grows mainly in the Mediterranean. Large areas of them are covered in Portugal, so the bulk of cork flooring comes to our stores from there. Cork is the dead skin of the tree bark, which is removed from time to time (no more often than once every 9 years), making longitudinal incisions. After removal of the bark, its new growth begins, and with each cut the quality improves.
It is not always possible to remove entire layers of cork, so often the floor covering is made of crumb, called agglomerate. Cork is a unique material that consists of a mass of small sealed chambers filled with oxygen and nitrogen, which gives special properties to the coatings and objects made of it. The plug consists of about30% lignins, which are responsible for density, about 40%suberina, responsible for elasticity and adhesive properties, as well as about 10% of oligosaccharides, thanks to which a unique relief and structure is formed. In addition, the tube has tannins that determine the color of the material, and a few of the ceroids responsible for watertightness.
Shortthe production scheme of the cork floor can be described as follows:
- production of veneer from natural, stabilized or pressed bark;
- drying and sorting cork crumb (granulate). Granulat with increased density is used to make the base, with less - for finishing;
- production of blocks of granulate, which will serve as a basis for gluing veneer. Binder is added to the crumb, the finished mass is placed in the molds and affected by temperature and high pressure. After cooling and stabilization, cutting and grinding occurs;
- gluing the base and veneer. At this stage, varnishing and gluing of the resulting tile to HDF slabs can occur, if the cork floor is intended for laying by means of a lock joint;
- varnishing, cutting of locks, packing.
The structure of the coating differs somewhat depending on the envisaged way of laying: it is only a base of granulate and veneer, if speech goes on the adhesive material, or a more complex structure with HDF-slab and an additional cork substrate, if we are talking about the lock cork field.
№2. Cork floor: pluses
Cork cover today is attributed a set of unique properties. We understand,what are the advantages actually inherent in the floor from the cork, and which are somewhat exaggerated:
- thermal insulation properties. The thermal conductivity of the plug is not much greater than that of the air, which makes it possible to dispense with the use of an additional heat insulator in the arrangement of the floor. The surface of the material is pleasant to the touch and warm, you can walk on it barefoot, so the material has become popular with the arrangement of bedrooms and children's rooms. The thicker the floor, the higher its thermal insulation properties, but the greater the price. Adhesive floors have a thickness of 2-6 mm, locking - 9-12 mm;
- soundproofing properties. Due to its porous structure, the plug is capable of absorbing noises, but with this task the coating will cope well if the thickness of the cork layer is more than 3 mm;
- environmental friendliness. The level of naturalness largely depends on the characteristics of production. If it is a complete veneer, then its naturalness at the highest level. If the cork agglomerate was used for production, then the environmental friendliness is somewhat reduced, because the natural material was pressed with adhesives and plasticizers. Responsible manufacturers, which will be discussed below, use non-toxic and absolutely safe additives, so there is no harm to health. Since a layer of natural cork veneer is used on top, the material retains hypoallergenicity and a unique pattern. This coating can be put on one level with a parquet board. The cork-based cork floor on the basis of HDF-slab in terms of environmental friendliness is inferior to the first two coating options, but still preserves the naturalness and safety for health;
- walk on the cork floor is good for health(in particular for the spine and joints) due to the elasticity, elasticity and the ability of the material to slightly spring. This is confirmed by the relevant studies carried out by the Biomechanical Institute of Valencia in 2005;
- resistance to mechanical stresses. The fall of a heavy non-sharp object and the prolonged exposure to massive pieces of furniture can not damage the coating. After a heavy bed, for example, is pushed out of its former place, the hollows from the feet will soon disappear. At least that's what the cork floor manufacturers say, drawing an analogy with the cork in the bottle, which instantly acquires its original form. In principle, it is true, but if the impact was strong and prolonged, the residual deformation may be present, however, its depth is no more than, mm;
- moisture resistance. The coating is not as afraid of moisture as the parquet, for example, but its resistance to different variations in the cork floor is different. Absolutely impervious to water coating of solid veneer, and if the structure has a HDF panel, then use the floor in rooms with high humidity is not recommended;
- resistance to most detergents, but with abrasive cleaning agents and those compounds where the level of alkali is increased, you must be extremely careful - they can damage the surface.
The surface of the cork floor is rough, but thanks to modern processing and applying several layers of varnish, absolute smoothness can be achieved.
No. 3. Cork flooring: cons
Advantages and cork floor is enough, but it is difficult to name the universal cover for any room in the apartment, becausehe has some drawbacks:
- instability to sharp objects, which means that the heel, the fall of the object with sharp edges and even the claws of the animals can be dangerous for such sex;
- complexity of repair. Theoretically, the cork floor can be grinded, but in practice grinding is rarely carried out, as a number of conditions must be met for this. Damage should not be too deep, and the room should maintain approximately the same temperature and humidity level throughout the life of the coating. But it is not all that bad. If only certain parts of the floor are deformed, the damaged elements can be replaced with new ones. For this to be possible, professionals advise purchasing material with a margin;
- The lock cork floor is not very resistant to the impactmoisture. If it gets water, it behaves better than the parquet floor, but it is not recommended to use it in bathrooms and kitchens, especially in the cooking area;
- a few years ago in the shortcomings could be written down a small assortment of colors and drawings, because the cork has approximately the same shade in yellowish-brown tones, so manufacturers have learned to make cork floor with woody drawing. Thus it turned outcork laminate.
As for thedurability, much depends on the structure of the coating, the varnish used and the manufacturer's responsibility. Glutinous cork floors withstand about 10 years of operation.
№4. Types of cork floor
Of the cork produce such types of flooring:
- solid veneer- the most expensive, high-quality and environmentally friendly material. Wares for one collection and batch by color are selected manually;
- roll coatingDo not use as a decorative finish - it plays the role of heat and sound insulating substrate;
- glutinous cork floor- this is a connected cork agglomerate and veneer;
- lock cork flooris performed on the basis of HDF or MDF boards.
The last two types of coatings have become most widespread.
№5. Glutinous cork floor
Glue cork is sometimes calledcork parquet. These are rectangular or square plates, consisting of a pressed cork2-6 mm thickand 1 mm thick veneer. The sizes of such tiles, as a rule, are 30 * 30, 45 * 45, 45 * 15 cm, but most often occur 60 * 30 cm. Tile thickness of 3 mm is considered the most wear-resistant and can be used even in offices, and in residential conditions The apartment is covered by a 6 mm thick cover: it is softer and protects from the cold better, especially when it comes to ground floor.
Normal manufacturers usesafe glue, odorless, and unscrupulous sin with the use of toxic compounds with a characteristic choking smell. Above the veneer can be protectedthree layers of varnish- this is the best option. Can be applied only one layer, then after laying it will be necessary to apply the finish coat. There is a glue plug andwithout lacquer coating- in this case, all three layers are applied after installation independently, without fail.
It is difficult to say unequivocally which cork floor is better, glued or lock. The conclusion will be made by each, depending on the purpose of use and means, but for now let us dwell onadvantages of the adhesive version:
- more moisture-resistant in comparison with the castle, but the flood still leaves noticeable marks on it;
- the ability to perform artistic laying and create a single coverage throughout the apartment without thresholds;
- higher durability.
- higher price, incl. due to the use of expensive adhesives and varnishes. Savings on varnish during production or laying lead to the fact that it soon begins to peel off, depriving the protection of the coating;
- the need to carefully level the floor, as small differences can be seen after laying;
- complexity and high cost of laying, but repairs can be made by replacing one tile with another.
Beforelayingthe material is allowed to lie in the room for several days. The surface of the floor is carefully leveled beforehand. It is recommended to start laying from the center of the room and perform it parallel to the wall. The glue is applied to both the floor and the material. After the glue has dried completely, it is possible to apply the first coat of varnish, it dries for about 5 hours. Before applying the last layer, an intermediate grinding is performed. The first 8 days of sex is better not to be subjected to serious stress.
№6. Locked cork floor
A cork floor with a lock joint is the actual same adhesive version, only mounted on a HDF or MDF board.The structure of the lock cork floor is as follows: the bottom layer is a cork substrate with a thickness of 1-2 mm for sound insulation, then there is an HDF plate with a density of 380-880 kg / m3 (than the higher the density, the better), then a 3 mm cork agglomerate with cork veneer and a three-layer varnish coating. Often the advantages of a lock cork floor arepresence of a protective layer of varnish, which does not have to be applied manually, but sometimes on sale there is a coating with a complete lack of varnish. As for the base plate, it is made from sawdust by the pressing method: for HDF boards, the density of pressing is higher than for MDF. The top layer can be made not from cork veneer, but from wood.
Elements, as a rule, havethe size90 * 1, and 90 * 30 cm, are connected due to the presence of a lock joint at the ends, their thickness is 9-12 mm.Mount this finish is quite simple, and this material favorably differs before the glue analog. To othersadvantagesit is worth to include the affordable price and speed of the work. AmongshortcomingsThe inability to perform artistic laying of the material and sensitivity to the effects of moisture. The material is excellent for living rooms, bedrooms and even hallways when combined with other finishing materials.
Locking floor can bemounteven on the existing old finish, having previously laid a cork or polyurethane substrate. Lay elements from left to right, from window to door, inserting one into the other at an angle of 30 degrees and fixing the lock, if necessary use a rubber mallet. When installing the cork floor (both types), a gap of about 1 cm near the walls is left for expansion due to changes in temperature and humidity. This slot can be hidden behind the floor skirting board.When the element of the lock cork floor is deformed, have to disassemble all the floor covering from the wall to the damaged area.
№7. Cork floor in rolls
Roll cork is used exclusivelyas a substratewhen laying laminate, parquet and cork floor. The material is made from pressed crumbs, so it retains all the exclusive heat and sound insulation characteristics of the cork. Available in thickness from, up to 10 mm, the width of the roll, as a rule, 1 m, the length varies from 5 to 1, m. Also on salerubber-cork rolls, which differ in the record soundproof and damping qualities.
№8. What else to consider when choosing a cork floor?
When purchasing a cork cover, it is worth checking the quality of the material in the package:
- the slices should be smooth, without burrs and jaggies;
- in different packages, the elements should have the same color scale, the slices of the plates should be the same, so that during the laying no crevices are formed;
- the back side must be dense, even and homogeneous;
- carefully study the sections of the material: the presence of foreign inclusions is unacceptable. Sometimes manufacturers, wishing to reduce the cost of production, add to the mass with an expensive stopper cheap wood sawdust. Naturally, the quality of this coating is reduced.
Sometimes the cork coating is almost identical in appearance or with the same performance characteristics, but differing in veneer, the prices vary greatly.The total cost depends, first of all, from used veneer, its type (natural - the most expensive, stabilization is cheaper, pressed - the cheapest), the way it is applied to the substrate, and also from the type of MDF-plate: the higher its density, the more expensive material.
Attention should be paid tochoice of varnish, because of its quality depends largely on the longevity of the coating. If you choose the right varnish and update the coating in time, the life of the cork floor can be significantly increased. At the moment, you can recommend such brands of varnishes as Natural Shield, Hotcoating, PU-Varnish, WRT, Lobadur 2K Supra Cork.
№9. The best producers of cork floors
The leader in the production of cork flooring isPortugal, because here grows the most suitable cork oak for use in these purposes. Its crust has a high density, and it contains a lot of suberin, the same substance that is responsible for elasticity and stickiness. Due to this in the production processglue it is necessary to add a minimum, and this makes the production cheaper and makes the finished product more environmentally friendly. Chinese companies use the bark of a local cork tree, which in density and composition is inferior to the Mediterranean, so you have to add a lot of glue. To make the product cheaper than the competitors, often used glue of poor quality.
The best producers of such cork floors are:
- Wicanders- one of the largest Portuguese companies for the production of cork coatings. The company is actually the trendsetter in this field, regularly updates the collection, offers a glutinous and lockable floor of different thicknesses and a wide range of shades. HDF boards are of high quality and dense (no less than 860 kg / m3), therefore the company's products are considered a quality sample. The cost of 20 to 50 $ per square. m;
- Corkstyle- Swiss brand, existing since 1998. In the domestic space, the products appeared in 2006 and today it is considered the most popular among competitors. The company cooperates only with the best producers of raw materials and equipment: the tube is purchased in Portugal and Sardinia, varnishes - from Kleiberit and Loba, HDF-base - from Kronospan. Assortment of adhesive and lock floors is huge, there arecork floors with photo printing(the picture can be absolutely anything). The cost of 24 to 80 $ per square. m;
- Corkart- a Portuguese company whose products are always of the highest quality. The manufacturer cooperates with the best suppliers of equipment and components of products, amazes with a huge assortment and the availability of quite affordable options. There is a cork floor and for $ 20 per sq. M. m. (without lacquer coating), and for $ 60 per sq. m. m. (with a unique pattern and increased thickness);
- MJO- Portuguese manufacturer, represented in all price categories. The assortment of coatings is wide, there are always several collections on sale, in the cheapest of them HDF-plates with a low density of 400 kg / cm3 are used, prices start from $ 25 per sq. M. m;
- Maestro Club- a brand of cork coating, which is made in the Portuguese concern Amorim (where the famous cork Wicanders) by domestic order. Quality is European, and the price is much more affordable, because there is no overpayment for the brand. The average cost is $ 30 per sq. M. m;
- Corksribas- a Portuguese company that produces commercial cork. Strength, durability and durability is provided due to the use of a special lacquer, which gives the material roughness, so it is better to walk on it only in shoes.
Care for the cork floorsimple. Keep it clean can with a vacuum cleaner and wet cleaning, you can use most detergents except for strongly alkaline and abrasive. Metal brushes are also better not to use. To exclude the appearance of scratches, on the legs of furniture it is better to attach pieces of felt or felt. The right choice of cork floor and proper care for it - a guarantee that it will last for many years.