Cork Vs Bamboo Flooring: Complete Side by Side Comparison

Cork vs Bamboo Flooring

Both Cork vs Bamboo flooring are cost-effective and sustainable solutions to modern-day flooring. These provide a lovely feel while imparting durability for more extended periods.

Their flexibility to adopt various situations and conditions make them special among other floorings. They also share a wide range of tone variations.

That being said, what are the major differences that set them apart and which to choose for the intended function. Without further ado, let’s dive into it.

We will be sneaking into durability, hardness, natural production, pricing followed by installation, and many other such parameters of cork vs bamboo flooring.

1. Formaldehyde Emission and Indoor Air Quality

Cork Flooring

Many ordinary people consider cork is free from volatile organic compounds, but researchers disagree with them.

However, the concentration of VOCs in cork flooring is lesser than the government provided guidelines, so there isn’t an issue with such infinitesimal concentrations.

As per researchers following VOCs are present in cork:

  • Acetic Acid
  • 2-furfuraldehyde
  • 2-ethyl-1-hexanol

Bamboo Flooring

As VOCs damage our health, we always look for better alternatives in terms of concentration. In this race, bamboo flooring performs relatively better than cork flooring.

Usage of urea-formaldehyde adhesive in the manufacturing of bamboo flooring is a problem here.

It also produces small amounts of VOCs. The reality is that their concentration is even lesser than cork flooring.

That’s why, as far as air quality is concerned in the cork vs bamboo flooring battle, unquestionably, bamboo has aced it.

2. Eco-system Friendly

Cork Flooring

When it comes to sustainability, cork flooring generates very satisfying results. Its production starts with the bark, which is actually a Phellem layer.

Experts say that we can harvest this bark after every eight to ten years without damaging its trees. This process isn’t harming trees in any way, and even cork oak trees usually live for hundreds of years.

Their production doesn’t require any kind of pesticides. Cork Oak tree needs much lesser water than other trees of this caliber. So, from the eco-friendly side, cork flooring produces very encouraging results.

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo is one of the most suitable building material. In technical terms, it’s a grass that grows at much higher rates. It takes 5 years to become ready for harvesting.

The incredible feature of bamboos is that they absorb a lot of carbon dioxide. The absorption of carbon reduces global warming, thus making bamboos a perfect eco-friendly construction material.

3. Resistance to Denting (or simply hardness)

Cork Flooring

Hardness is one of the most critical aspects as it defines the usage of any type of flooring. Floors facing lesser movements are good with even normal hardness.

Specific areas of the house like mudroom or kitchens require floorings with appropriate hardness; otherwise, dents appear within after a short duration of usage.

Janka hardness test reveals that cork falls in the range of 200. This means it’s prone to denting and damage.

200 on the Janka scale is way lesser, but the things are not as worse as this scale shows. Though cork is softer material but its elastic nature makes it reshape itself as soon as the load is removed until or unless loading went out of cork’s elastic limit.

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo is unquestionably one of the hardest wooden material. Janka scale marks 4000 plus value for woven bamboo. Walking with high heels, heavy machinery, or furniture can cause some dents in it, but their effect would be minimal.

So, there’s no second opinion that bamboo outclasses cork flooring in the cork vs bamboo flooring hardness race.

4. Feel and Comfort of Walking

Cork Flooring

Walking on cork flooring is one of the loveliest feeling filled with comfort. It has a high thermal resistance. Cork is also soft and spongy in nature, so it enhances the experience of any contact with it.

It has a unique porous structure offering a high degree of porosity with each air packet. Impermeable walls surround these air packets, which gives a better feel on touch.

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo also offers a similar structure to that of cork, but its thermal resistance is a little lesser than its competitor. The structure is more or less the same as cork flooring so does the comfort level.

In short, bamboo flooring users also praise its feel, but cork flooring is still a better option than bamboo.  

5. Water Resistance

Cork Flooring

One must factor for every construction material that needs to be considered while purchasing it, and that is its water resistance. Cork has a natural resistance to water, due to which most of the company’s use it for sealing bottles.

Its water resistance is because of the presence of Suberin, which is a naturally occurring hydrophobic waxy material.

Water still can induce significant problem if cork get’s immersed for a longer duration of time. It can even damage the adhesives joining cork’s layers.

So, it’s always preferable to apply waterproof sealant after installation.

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo also posses water resistance properties, but we can’t call it waterproof. If it develops contact with water for a longer duration, it might swells and even gets decolourized.

However, good quality bamboos can perform well up to a maximum of 24 hours.

In case if it gets longer, then it causes many complications. In short, bamboo flooring is water-resistant to some extent but always lags behind cork flooring.

6. Pricing and Availability

Cork Flooring

Undoubtedly, price is one of the most important factors while purchasing any construction material. There are two types of costs involved while applying any kind of flooring: material cost, while the other is its installation cost.

For now, we are only considering material costs per square foot of cork flooring ranging from $3 to a maximum of $12, depending upon the season and availability.

Bamboo Flooring

You would be amazed to know that bamboo provides more or less the same properties as hardwood flooring but costs much less. Almost $1.5 per square foot is the average price of bamboo.

So, while comparing the material costs of cork vs bamboo flooring, we prefer bamboos due to their overall availability.

7. Installation

Cork Flooring

There are two things associated with installation: ease of installation and the other revolves around installation costs. These two factors are inversely related to each other.

The installation of cork flooring mainly depends on the underlying surface or simply known as subfloor. If concrete is a major component of subfloor then its super easy to install cork flooring.

You can do this by simply placing them over the subfloor.

Suppose the subfloor contains anything other than concrete. In that case, proper adhesives are available in the market to connect floorings with the subfloor; on average, professional charges approximately $2 per square foot.

Bamboo Flooring

Just like cork flooring, you don’t need any professional for installing bamboo flooring. You can complete it yourself by just following the guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

If you don’t have time, even a local carpenter can also do this job as long as he sticks to the guidelines. Bamboo flooring professionals usually charge $4 per square foot.

So its installation is a bit costlier than cork flooring, but the installation process is more or less the same for both. Finally, we can say, in the overall installation of cork vs bamboo flooring, cork is a better option.

8. Ease of Maintenance

Maintenance of both of these floorings is quite comparable as both require sweeping and vacuuming. Occasionally both cork and bamboo floors need deep cleaning. After few years, cork flooring requires proper resealing with polyurethane sealant.

In contrast, bamboo floors face scratches if we step on the debris kept on the flooring.

Bottom Line

This is a tough call as hardness is a big plus for bamboo; in contrast, cork floorings beat its competitors’ water resistance to some extent. Bamboo’s air quality falls prey to cork’s ease of installation.

To cut a long story short, both are suitable materials, and both can be used alternatively, but we give preference to bamboo’s flooring due to the aforementioned reasons.  

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