Cork flooring is in a growth mode thanks to efforts like the recently completed Décor(k) Tour, an event hosted by the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR) featuring a mobile showroom, which visited 16 cities across the U.S. Additionally, the green nature of the product is drawing in architects and designers who are specifying cork flooring for LEED points.
Gary Keeble, Jr., USFloors’ marketing manager, agrees that better looks can help bring the product into more homes. “When you add things like beveled edges and interesting formats, cork flooring becomes more of a design product and less of a utility product,” he said.
According to Randy Gillespie, Expanko’s owner, commercial cork options are starting to move away from engineered floating floors and returning to traditional, glue-down formats.
“There has been a push back from the design community to produce glue-down floors with more stability,” he explained. “They are also not looking so much for wild, fancy patterns, but something more like the traditional cork installations that have lasted for 100 years.”
He feels the product will also bridge well into residential because it offers many options. “You can be creative with it, and create checkerboards, herringbones and brick patterns. You can do custom cuts; it’s basically like having a piece of wood, but with all of the benefits of cork.”
Ann Wicander, WE Cork president, said it is hard to pinpoint any one trend in the segment. “Our beveled Timeless Collection, which includes tiles and planks in a floating floor format, is doing very well in the marketplace. We also see value products taking hold. While we offer some glue-down products, but by far the floating floors are what people are choosing.”
“The program is supported by installation videos on our website for both our floating floors and glue-down,” Wicander said. “Everyone wants a warm, quiet floor and the attributes that cork offers. We put this program together so everyone can learn more about cork, from selling to installation, the whole nuts and bolts.”
She said that these types of efforts can help transition cork flooring out of being a niche product into something a little more mainstream. “I just came from a trip in Canada where cork is very prevalent and accepted. On the other hand, I was recently at a home show in Atlanta where about 60 percent of attendees didn’t seem to realize you could walk on cork. We’re so close to the segment, that sometimes we’re baffled by the fact that not everybody knows about it.”