What is Cork & Why is it so Unique

Cork is an all-natural product, harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree. Perfect for green construction, cork oak is the only tree whose bark regenerates itself after harvest, leaving the tree unharmed. The bark is harvested every 9 years as mandated by governmental agencies resulting in an all-natural, environmentally responsible product with exceptional physical properties. Aside from the rich texture, numerous patterns, and beautiful colours of Globus Cork tiles, cork flooring is appreciated for its soft give under foot, resistance to dents, and its thermal & acoustical insulative qualities. Review all the benefits of cork.


The first thing most people notice about cork is how soft it feels underfoot. Soft enough that your back, hips and knees feel better after standing on your feet for long periods of time but yet it doesn’t feel spongy. Cork’s cellular structure is made up of millions of tiny, sealed air-like pockets which provides many of the benefits of cork. This provides the soft feel underfoot.

Resistance To Moisture & Liquid Penetration

While natural cork is not completely impervious to moisture penetration, its cellular structure gives it a high resistance to penetration by water. Globus Cork tiles are coated with a premium water-based finish and are highly resistant to stains or water damage. So yes, you can install cork tiles in the kitchen or bathroom.


Heavy pressure does not break down or destroy the tiny air cells that are unique to cork, pressure only compresses the air within the cells. The cork begins to spring back when the pressure is removed. This resiliency allows the cork to give under pressure while still maintaining its beauty and finish. In your home this means that if you make a dent in a cork floor, over a short period of time the dent will disappear unlike hardwood flooring which maintains a permanent dent. However if you need to move heavy equipment across the floor such as a piano or refrigerator, protect your floor your floor first before rolling across it. Sharp edges can make cuts in the floor during this move.

Acoustical Insulation & Impact Noise Resistance

Cork, with its 200 million air cells per cubic inch; of which 60% is air, essentially acts as an “air cushion”, absorbing vibrations and direct impacts. This means cork is great for music rooms, recording studios, and entertainment rooms. You should consider cork for your floor, walls or ceiling if you have high ceilings and wide expanses of hard surfaces. Cork will help to muffle the sound or noise in these situations.

Thermal Insulation

The minutely divided air spaces within cork make it one of the most efficient non-conductors of heat/cold. The unique cell construction of cork provides this property. Additionally, cork maintains a warm temperature in your home. Therefore a cork floor will always feel warmer to the touch than stone, ceramic, vinyl or even hardwood floors. Test have proven this.


Bugs, mold, mites and even termites are repelled by cork due to a naturally occurring waxy substance in cork called Suberin. So if you’ve removed all your carpeting and installed hard but cold surfaces in your home due to allergies, now you can consider warm, soft cork. Suberin also prevents cork from rotting even when completely submerged under water for long periods of time.

Difference Between Commercial & Residential Cork Floors

The difference between commercial grade or residential is actually in the finishes applied to the cork, not the cork itself as long as it is cork meant for flooring and not bulletin boards. The top sealer coat that is applied to our cork after it is installed is a commercial grade finish formulated expressly for cork, meaning it is strong but also has flexible strength which is needed for cork. Each manufacturer will should be able to tell you what uses are appropriate for their cork, ie residential only or commercial. There are a variety of finishes for cork ranging from a vinyl layer (which can separate) to UV-cured (which is a thin hard layer) to multiple coats of varnish/polyurethane which have different grades.

Cork & Vinyl Comparison

FeatureGlue-Down CorkVinyl/VCT
Warm YesNo
Easy to CleanYesYes
All NaturalYesNo
Naturally Mold & Mildew ResistantYesNo
Acoustic InsulatorYesNo
Thermal InsulatorYesNo
Increase Home ValueYesNo
Resists InsectsYesYes
Fire InhibitorYesNo
Renewable ResourceYesNo
Sustainably HarvestedYesN/A
Sustainably HarvestedYesNo
Recyled ContentYesNo

Temperature and Energy Efficiency

Cork maintains a standard temperature to the touch in that if feels in the 60-70 degree range year round. It doesn’t get very hot or cold. Additionally, cork’s insulating benefits are based upon the existing temperature within a room. Cork will help maintain whatever the ambient temperature is within a room so it will help with energy efficiency. It also is not a conductive material so it does not transfer heat from the surface behind it.

Compare Glue-Down Tiles to Floating Floors

Your planned area of use and the condition of your subfloor are often the determining factors in a decision between glue-down tiles and floating floors. Floating floors are not recommended in water areas such as kitchens and baths because they have a fiberboard center which could swell if sufficient water seeped through the seams. Glue-down tiles are good for kitchens and baths.

Here are some other comparisons:


When installing glue-down tiles, you need to have a nice flat floor – no voids, no bumps as these will telegraph through the tiles. Level is not important but flat is. On a cement floor, any subfloor problems can be easily addressed by the pouring a thin layer of a self-leveling cement down on your current floor. It dries overnight and gives you a beautiful flat surface. Floating floors are a little more forgiving of lumpy surfaces but only moderate bumps and voids. Larger ones will cause uneven alignment of the planks, bouncing, squeaking and possibly even breakage if the bumps are large enough. Floating floors can go over top of linoleum, vinyl tiles, ceramic tiles, meaning that they do not need to be removed first as they do for glue-down tiles. Glue-down tiles are 3/16″ thick and the floating floors are 7/16″ thick.


Our glue-down tiles come in more than 20 different sizes and shapes giving you a multitude of design possibilities. The size and shape of the tiles you select is an important design decision. All floor tiles have a small beveled edge so you do see the edges of the tiles. As a wood, cork expands and contract with heat and humidity changes. The beveled edge is necessary to allow the surface of the cork tiles to expand when necessary without tiles peaking or popping over surrounding tiles. The cork floating floor panels are available in only one size (roughly 12″x36″). The cork panels do not have beveled edges and handle expansion differently. Since the cork panels are not adhered to the floor (they’re floating), the entire floor expands when it need to which is why you have spacer gaps where the floor reaches the wall.


Both products are very easy to install and because our tiles have several coats of finish and are pre-glued, the installation time is about the same. Both products need to have a final top coat of finish applied after installation. Cuts are easier to make in glue-down tiles so if you have a lot of them, this is a consideration. A circular saw is necessary for the floating floor planks. Cleaning is in the same manner for both. Repairs are easier with the glue down tiles because its easier to remove or patch a single tile. Its very tough to remove a single panel of a floating floor if its not at the perimeter of the floor. A floating floor feels a bit harder floor than a glue-down tile floor and is noisier than the 100% cork tiles.

Dimensional Stability

Cork is different from other flooring materials but not difficult to work with. The key to remember is that you are working with wood in a tile form. So although you are laying it down in tiles, cork still acts like a wood. It must be acclimated before you install it. As a wood it will expand with heat, contract with cold, expand with higher humidity and contract with low humidity. During acclimation, the tile can alter its size and shape a bit and unfortunately, it may not expand or contract uniformly. This means that although the tiles can leave the factory perfectly squared, after acclimation either in transit or onsite, the tiles can be slightly out of square. The most common shift can be a slight shrinkage inward at the corners. Our general recommendation is to lay cork tiles in an ashlar pattern (brick) instead of on a grid layout so that your eye is not searching for the straight perfect lines. Cork is a natural material and will not appear as uniform as a vinyl tile.

Cork is different from other woods as it does not have a fibrous structure to help it maintain its shape. Hardwoods have long string-like fibers running horizontally through the planks. Hardwood will shrink or expand primarily in one direction across the grain.

Cork flooring has no structural fibers. If you look at the back of a floor tile, you’ll see that it is made up of small cork pieces. Whether they are coarse or fine, these pieces are simply mixed with a small amount of binder and heated to form the cork in large blocks that are then sliced down into slabs and tiles. This cork form is very durable but it doesn’t have the same dimensional stability that hardwoods have.

Why are there Beveled Edges?

The depth of the bevel on the tiles is approx. 1/16″ which is a third of the depth of the tile. It is also a micro bevel, only about a 5 degree bevel. The beveled edge is a stronger edge than a 90″ angle edge and therefore resists chipping better. The bevel also allows for the natural expansion and contraction to occur which happens with all natural products and the bevel permits this to happen without one tile peaking over another. A tile that pops up would be prone to chipping over time as you walk over the surface. Think of the beveled edge as a safety value.