Thursday, October 7, 2010

Getting Corked

Cork flooring isn't anything new.  In fact, when I first got into this industry 15 years ago, it wasn't new then either.  Cork has been used as a flooring material for years.  It's resilient, comfortable to stand on, and is considered a "green" choice since it's renewable. 

In a strangely related issue, there is continued debate over the use of cork versus the Stelvin, or screw top closure in the wine industry.  (This is a design blog, not a wine blog so I won't wade into the discussion.  But do click the link if you're at all into wine.  Interesting times ahead).  It reminded me of an elementary school teacher I had who asked all his students to ask their parents to collect their wine corks for him ... not for a school art project, but for a home remodelling project.  The plan was to glue the flat ends of the corks along the wall for a sort of 1970's themed wine room.  Come to think of it, it was the 70's!

Photo courtesy of Jelinek
Years later, when I was introduced to cork flooring, I remembered my teacher's wine room and wondered if that sort of recycling project would work for flooring.  Apparently the folks at Jelinek Cork Group were asking themselves the same question.  Through programmes like Cork Re-Harvest, Jelinek is able to reclaim some of the millions of cork stoppers that go into the landfill every year.  The cork is re-cycled into various cork products, like coasters and gaskets.  But what really caught my eye and reminded me of the wine room all those years ago was their Mosaic line.

Photo courtesy of Jelinek
The wine corks are cut into circular discs about 6mm (1/4") thick and glued on a paper backing, much like mosaic ceramic tiles. Installation is similar to ceramic tiles as well.  Just like any other cork floor, the cork mosaic can be stained, and like ceramic tile, the patterns that can be created are limitless . These floors have all the characteristics of regular cork floors but besides being suitable in most common rooms such as bathrooms, kitchens and entrance ways, they are also suitable for saunas, showers, pool surrounds, and other potentially wet areas.


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