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Editorial

If These Walls Could Talk


UNDERFOOT



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04/01/2007 - "Cork is quite stable. Think of a wine bottle on its' side for years with its' cork in contact with the wine. It isn't affected much by the liquid. Wood can't handle moisture like that. It would have rotted years ago" explains Craig Catellier of Dons' Mobile Carpet.

Many of the qualities we work to incorporate into our manmade products are naturally inherent to cork. Cork resists mildew and moisture deterioration because it contains anti-microbial agents and a substance called suberin. Suberin also acts as an organic insect repellant. One of the insects it repels is the termite--- wood's number one enemy. These properties make cork flooring products at least as durable as hardwood. The cork flooring at the Library of Congress was installed in 1890. It has endured over 100 years of heavy foot traffic.

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Although cork as flooring was introduced many years ago, it fell out of favor for a time when vinyl flooring came into vogue. The advent of new finishing techniques that have made cork as easy to maintain as vinyl, has caused a new surge in popularity.

Another reason for cork's new popularity is our increasing interest in environmentally friendly products. Cork is a renewable resource. It is harvested from trees grown along the coastal regions of the Mediterranean--- mostly in Portugal and Spain. The trees are not killed in the process. They live over a hundred years, and grow another harvestable cork layer every eight to ten years. Cork flooring is created from the by products of the bottle-stopper industry. Minimal adhesive is needed to bind the particles since they are adhered under extreme pressure. This high pressure creates a dense product. This density is what separates a high quality flooring product from "bulletin board" material.

A natural temperature and sound insulator, cork is warm and quiet underfoot. It is hypoallergenic and resistant to scratching, which makes it ideal for children. It is available in standard tiles, and also in interlocking tongue and groove planks. The floating floor plank system is perfect over radiant heat systems. For everyone interested in healthy responsible lifestyles, cork flooring is an excellent choice.

With all of this in its' favor, cork would still hold little charm for me personally, were it not for its' beauty. I began researching the properties of cork flooring after seeing the new designs. Layers of decorative veneers cover the core. The lamination is part of the original production, making the laminated layer inseparable from the core. The patterns vary from those mimicking bamboo or marble to my favorite--- a beautiful organic motif that calls to mind the essence of an ancient forest.

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