Innovations drive interest in cork, bamboo
By Reginald Tucker-Corc and bamboo. They may not have the widespread, mainstream appeal of other resilient and hardwood floor coverings that are so wildly popular today, but that in no way minimizes the positive qualities that both flooring categories bring to both residential and commercial end users.
From their well-documented eco-friendly benefits to their unique visual characteristics, cork and bamboo floors provide a desirable alternative to many of the resource-based hard surface products that abound in the industry today. Thirty years ago, few people installed bamboo floors in their homes or businesses; nowadays bamboo is widely available. It’s also more affordable (but certainly not cheap), especially when compared to the rapidly rising costs of competing hardwoods such as cherry, hickory, and European white oak. (Note: Bamboo floors are actually derived from sustainably harvested grass.)
Not to be outdone, cork flooring—which is cleared from the bark of the quercus suber tree that grows in the Mediterranean region—has its own key features and selling points. Not only are the trees that yield cork bark preserved, but they can regenerate their bark many times over the course of the tree’s life.
Below is a selection of what is available from various cork and bamboo suppliers.
The Amorim WISE portfolio combines the unique properties and durability of cork with innovative design and state-of-the-art technology.
Billed as a high-end product that combines high quality with avant-garde and unique design, the line is available in three different types of visuals – cork, wood and stone – and two sizes (Inspire 700 and Pure) for a seemingly endless array of color combinations and design options.
A standout collection is Origem, which captures the essence of the colors of the Montado, the fragile and important ecosystem where cork originated. The greens and oranges found in the cork harvesting Mediterranean region serve as inspiration for the colours, while the addition of bright yellows and grays provide contrasting elements.
Cali recently spotted the wraps of Cali Cork, a four-SKU collection of enhanced cork floors that stay true to the material’s renewable, eco-friendly roots. Shelves are finished with a highly resistant finish, making them easier to clean and better protected against scratches and dirt build-up. The cork material used in both the top visual layer and the bottom bottom layer is naturally water-repellent, sound-insulating, anti-microbial and temperature-regulating. Cali Cork floors are also able to absorb shock without losing its shape.
Known for its focus on green floors and its environmentally conscious sourcing philosophy, Cali also has a strong presence in the bamboo arena. The company wants to distinguish itself in the niche bamboo field through innovative production processes and responsible purchasing. “Staying true to our roots, bamboo is still king at Cali,” said Mike Belprez, director of product management and innovation at Cali. “Whether engineered or solid, this ultra-durable material remains the best-selling strain in our portfolio.” Pictured above is bamboo in Bordeaux.
Opus Floors Canada, in collaboration with Portugal-based Corksribas, offers the Green Flow cork flooring collection. Using 1000 dpi digital printing technology, Opus Floors can deliver cork visuals with fewer pattern repeats, said Vern Verkley, president. Trendy visuals such as mosaic/ceramic looks and traditional wood visuals are possible thanks to an advanced screening and imaging process. In addition to aesthetics, Green Flow also praises high sustainability. According to the company, Green Flow floors are very stable in installations up to 3,200 square meters without transitions.
Corkoleum from WE Cork offers end users a waterproof flooring solution for bathrooms, kitchens and pool houses, or any space subject to water or moisture. Backed with a rubber and cork compound and finished in place, Corkoleum repels moisture and provides a robust floor for any home, office or commercial environment. Since it is installed unfinished, a stain can be applied to suit all interiors. “It’s really getting a lot of attention, especially in commercial applications,” said Ann Wicander, president.
Another standout product in the WE Cork line is Eco Nomical, which is designed to be good value for money with a compelling eco-friendly story. The pattern uses cork stoppers and the collection is available in four popular colours. Eco Nomical (pictured above) offers a great option for customers on a budget but still wanting under or level thermal insulation, soundproofing in a second floor application or a comfortable floor that is more comfortable for aging joints. The product is also GreenGuard Gold certified.
HDPC Waterproof Bamboo Flooring combines the performance benefits of rigid core flooring with the uniqueness of real bamboo strands. Environmentally friendly, HDPC strand bamboo is twice as hard as oak and tolerates temperature fluctuations while remaining stable in the most demanding environments.
“Wellmade continues to lead the way in flooring technology with its patented hard core HDPC flooring,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing. “In addition to offering 100% waterproof performance, HDPC flooring offers increased density and superior thermal properties that provide a dimensionally stable floor that is perfect for high-traffic areas prone to moisture.”
CorkWood from Torlys brings together the look of wood, the durability of laminate and the comfort of cork. It comes in two collections: CorkWood Designer, featuring 6-foot planks in nine colours; and CorkWood Elite, available in nearly four-foot planks and five colors. CorkWood is designed with an HDF smart core for dent resistance and a 3 mm (Designer) or 2.5 mm (Elite) thick top layer of compressed cork. It also includes the Torlys CorkPlus attached underlayment for added warmth and sound insulation.