Thanks out to contributor Lisa M. Smith aka the Decor Girl for sharing a key part of her Blah to Spa Bathroom Makeover.
Looking for a new, maybe better, quieter, warmer, bathroom floor? Cork floors can be an excellent option in the bathroom. Recently we remodeled our daily use bathroom and used cork plank flooring.
I’ll share some installation photos as well as why cork should be on your radar as a bathroom flooring option. BTW, it works great in the kitchen and other rooms too.
First of all, let’s eliminate the most common myth:
“How can cork flooring work in a bathroom? Isn’t it absorbent?”
Look no further than the nearest wine bottle. Wine producers have been using cork for thousands of years as their bottle stops because of durability and cork’s ability to hold up to moisture. Ever heard of Dom Pérignon, grandfather of all champagnes? By using cork as the stopper instead of wood (which warps, molds, cracks, etc.) he was able to keep the bubbles in the bottle. … Starting to make one wonder why we think wood is so great as a flooring option.
How Is Cork a Floor?
Today’s popular cork floors come as tiles or tongue & groove planks, like a wood floor. Notice the planks stacked in the background and how easy the contractor can make cuts before he installs the piece.
A thin layer of cork veneer applied to a rigid substrate material.
The big differences (other than look or pattern) between tile, often called parquet, and plank? Tiles are typically a glue down installation while plank is often installed as a floating floor. Click, cut … install baseboard trim and you’ve got a beautiful new floor. Many plank versions are approved for below grade installation as well.
And cork is certainly DIY-worthy.
Cork Flooring – CLEANLINESS & MAINTENANCE
Cork is the best when it comes to avoiding mold and mildew, one or even both of those items often present in a bathroom. But put simply – cork resists mold and mildew.
What doesn’t resist mold and mildew? The typical bathroom floor options we normally use: ceramic tile, vinyl, wood and laminate. Look at it, even dirt is hard to spot which, of course, is always a good thing.
On the cleaning front, cork is super simple. In the old days, cork had a waxed coating, which over time would have to be stripped and reapplied. Advances in technology brought new finishes with increased performance characteristics. Basically, a light sweep and once-a-week swish with a damp mop are all most homeowner will ever have to do. A bit of warm water with a splash of vinegar (not too much) in the bucket will do the trick.
QUIET PLEASE – Cork Keeps Things Quiet in the Bathroom
Bathrooms by design are full of hard surfaces, itself creating a den of echoes. This is partially why people love to sing in the shower … the amplified acoustics. All those sounds: running water, closing and opening doors, moving objects on a countertop, footsteps, voices, and even the bathroom fan – are magnified when hard surfaces a present.
Cork, even though it is slightly compressed for flooring, is full of tiny honeycombs filled with air which allow cork to dampen environmental sounds. Consider cork floor kinda like your bathroom’s muzzle.
Once replacing our tiled bathroom floor with cork, I never hear my husband in the shower, which used to wake me up in the morning. I barely hear the now gentle hum of the fan.
The Benefits are Plentiful, But Be Warned …
The thing with cork in a bathroom is it works great provided spills are wiped up and puddles of water do not sit on it for extended periods. Use bathmats, but don’t leave super wet ones on the floor. We use a teak bath mat in front of the tub with a cotton rug on top of it to both absorb water and allow for aeration.
What Sold Me
My flooring distributor has four children, a dog and they share one bathroom. They have had cork down for over two years and it looks like new. When I told him I was writing this post, he relayed a story of his young son, who recently decided to shower without a shower curtain … water was everywhere.
But they just wiped up the floor and it still looks primo.
Like anything, when kept clean and maintained, it will last.
A Short Cork Flooring History
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the pioneer of organic architecture, used cork floors in many of his homes including one of his most famous homes, Falling Water. There still there – I’ve seen it.
Cork flooring has been down for over 100 years in these well used commercial environments:
- Rockefeller University Library
- New York City Public Library
- US Library of Congress
Hmmm, if it is good enough for these buildings… it will likely perform just as well in yours. For more on this designer’s “Blah to Spa” bathroom makeover, here.