A Comparison between Hardwood and Cork Flooring

Here we provide a complete comparison between Hardwood and Cork flooring.

Purchasing new or replacement flooring will be something that most property owners will have to deal with at some time or other. However, many of them are not sure where to start looking or which flooring options to consider ensuring that they will get the best value for money possible in the long run. The differences, as well as the pros and cons of hardwood and cork flooring, will be discussed in great detail below.

Resistance to Water and Moisture

Before choosing to install hardwood or cork flooring, it is essential for property owners to take into consideration whether either of them are water resistant or not.

One of the main disadvantages of standard hardwood flooring is that it cannot be allowed to get wet and stay wet for any length of time whatsoever. Hardwood that is allowed to remain wet will be at extremely high risk of warping, permanently buckling or developing black mold growth – or all of the above. When this occurs, the flooring will need to be refinished. However, in more extreme cases of mold development, the hardwood flooring will require complete replacement.

Because of the above-mentioned factors, it is not recommended to have any form of hardwood flooring installed in parts of your home that will be prone to high amounts of moisture or water such as basements, bathrooms or kitchens.

Cork flooring, on the other hand, is extremely resistant to water, provided that it has been correctly installed and sealed before being walked on. However, it is still not recommended that water is left on these floors for any longer than necessary, as excessive exposure may also result in the cork warping.

Another distinct advantage of cork flooring is that it is far more resistant to the development of any form of mold, staining or warping. This means that it will be the better contender than hardwood flooring in the event of it getting wet for any reason.


Although both hardwood and cork flooring are considered as being durable, there are some differences between them in this regard.

When correctly cared for, hardwood flooring will easily last for 100 years. However, this will depend on the type of wood chosen because some species are softer than others. For instance, pine will be far softer than ebony. As a result, it s important to choose the right species of wood for this type of flooring, as some of them will be more prone to scratching, nicking or denting from heavy furniture, sharp items being dropped or even longer than average pet claws.

The Janka scale is a tool that is used to measure the general hardness of different species of wood. If you are unsure of the type of hardwood flooring to install in any part of your home, it is recommended that you use this.

Although cork flooring is great for its mold and mildew resistant properties, most property owners are keen to find out how well it will be able to hold up with regards to damage.

Cork flooring is substantially softer than hardwood, meaning that it will be more comfortable underfoot. However, this will also mean that it is more susceptible to damage from sharp objects such as high-heeled shoes, furniture legs or even objects that get dragged across it carelessly. One of the best ways to help protect your cork flooring will be to place good quality furniture coasters under each leg of couches, chairs and tables. In some cases, debris and dirt can cause damage to cork flooring as well – especially if it has not been correctly sealed.

When comparing the durability of hardwood to cork flooring, hardwood has a distinct advantage in this regard.

Care and Cleaning

All types of flooring will require some form cleaning to ensure that they remain looking attractive – hardwood and cork are no exception to this.

Cork and hardwood flooring can both be kept clean by dry mopping, using a broom or even a vacuum cleaner. However, you will need to invest in a vacuum cleaner that has been designed for these types of flooring to prevent scratching or gouging.

If a deeper clean is required on hardwood floors, this should only be done with a product that has been specially formulated for use on the hardwood. Using anything else can result in the flooring becoming dull or cloudy over time. Cleaners should also only be applied to small sections at a time so the residue can be mopped off as quickly as possible afterward. In cases where hardwood flooring has become badly scratched, damaged or dull, it can usually be sanded down and refinished.

Because cork flooring is a little more resistant to moisture than hardwood, a damp mop can be used when cleaning. However, these floors will also need to be wiped dry immediately afterward. Dedicated cleaning products are also available for cork flooring and should be used in cases where more intensive soiling has occurred. In some cases, it is also possible to refinish cork flooring that has become dull or damaged over time.


Although most property owners are more concerned about pricing and durability where flooring is concerned, others also voice concern regarding the level of underfoot comfort that will be experienced after installation.

Although hardwood flooring is quite firm underfoot, this does not mean that it will always be uncomfortable to walk or stand on. In some cases, underlay can be installed, which will help provide a decent level of cushioning to make a difference for your back, knees and other joints. This is especially beneficial for anyone who may suffer from arthritis.

Property owners that are concerned about hardwood flooring being cold underfoot during the winter months can have radiant heaters installed to help rectify this issue. However, this can be quite an expensive project.

One of the main reasons why so many property owners are choosing cork flooring these days is because it is far more comfortable underfoot than hardwood. In addition, cork has natural acoustic as well as thermal insulating properties, which means that it will not only be lovely and warm underfoot in winter; it can help dampen sounds such as running feet or louder than average surround sound when watching TV.

When comparing comfort between hardwood and cork, cork is the firm winner.


The reality of global warming on the earth has resulted in more property owners than ever before looking for greener options when having new or replacement flooring installed. While hardwood and cork are both renewable resources, some differences exist with regards to long term sustainability.

In order to be classified as fully sustainable, it is essential for flooring manufacturers to harvest their wood from areas that have a careful balance of tree and plant diversity. In other words, when trees are harvested, appropriate measures must be put in place to reduce the effect on the surrounding environment.

A few of the most sustainable varieties of wood that are currently being used in the flooring industry include ash, black cherry, mahogany, oak hardwood, and maple. If a specific type of flooring is sustainable, it will be clearly certified and branded accordingly on the packaging.

Consumers who are looking for a genuinely sustainable type of flooring though will be more than delighted with cork. This flooring is fast gaining popularity with property owners who are looking for an option that does not contain any chemical products, but that is still attractive and practical for use in their homes. Cork also does not cause an environmental damage of any sort – even when it reaches the end its lifespan.

In most cases, cork that is going to be used for flooring is harvested from cork trees situated in Africa and Europe. Owing to the fact that the bark on these trees is used to manufacture flooring, no actual trees are destroyed or cut down in the process. The bark is then regenerated on these trees over time. This is the main reason why cork is a far more sustainable option for flooring than most forms of hardwood.

Average Lifespan

Because installing new or replacement flooring is such a costly exercise, most property owners are keen to learn which options will provide them with the best value for money possible – especially with regards to wear and tear over time.

In most cases, hardwood flooring can be expected to last anywhere between 25 and 100 years – provided that proper maintenance and care instructions are followed. However, this will depend on the type of wood chosen, the thickness of it and how it has been finished before being used.

Although cork flooring will also last for many years, its average lifespan is between 20 and 30 years. In some cases, better quality brands may last longer than this.

Although both cork and hardwood have been designed to last a long time, hardwood will always outlast cork when properly cared for.

Determining Pricing

When engaging in a flooring project, most property owners also voice their concerns regarding pricing. While some may want to obtain the cheapest prices possible, others will prefer to obtain the best value for money instead.

The main factor that will affect the price of hardwood flooring is the species of wood being used. For example, softer woods such as pine will fall on the cheaper end of the scale at between $3 and $6 per square foot. More exotic species of wood such as ebony can cost upwards of $10 per foot and more. Installation costs can vary from as low as $5 to more than $10 per square foot, depending on how much labor will be required to complete the job.

When purchasing cork flooring, property owners can expect to pay between $4 and $9 per square foot for materials and between $2 and $4 per square foot for installation.

With regards to pricing, cork flooring will almost always be the cheaper option. However, if longevity is the end goal, hardwood will be the better choice.

Choosing a Supplier and Installer

Before having any hardwood or cork flooring installed, it is essential that you choose the right supplier and an experienced installer.

Although it may seem like a tedious task, performing research about particular companies or suppliers beforehand can prevent a lot of complications at a later stage – especially in the event of something going wrong with your new flooring.

One of the best ways to find information about a specific flooring company or installer is to perform online research for reviews and complaints. If there are more complaints than good reports or you cannot find any information pertaining to a specific supplier or company, it will be best to source an alternative.

Although it can be tempting to try and find the cheapest prices possible for your flooring and labor costs, this will not normally result in you getting a decent product or expert installation – in fact, the opposite will apply. Instead, you should be willing to spend as much as you can comfortably afford on the flooring itself and the labor costs, as this will enable you to get the best value for money possible.

While it is possible to sometimes obtain discount codes or coupons for flooring, you will need to remember that some terms and conditions will apply to them. For instance, you may only be able to obtain discount on end of range or discontinued styles, colors and designs of flooring. As a result, this option may not be suitable for you if you have your heart set on having a specific type of flooring installed in your home.

After your hardwood or cork flooring has been installed, it is crucial to ensure that all cleaning, care, and maintenance instructions are followed carefully. This is especially true with regards to the use of cleaning products on them and whether they are exposed to too much moisture or not. Failure to do so will result in any warranties that were initially provided being voided immediately.

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