Pros and Cons of Bamboo vs. Cork Flooring Pros and Cons of Bamboo vs. Cork Flooring

If you are shopping for new flooring and can’t decide bamboo or cork would be best for your home, we’ve got you covered. Here are the pros and cons of each option for you to review in order for you to better choose which one is the best match for your renovation project.

Environmental

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option, you really can’t go wrong with either choice. They are both fairly equal in this area and both great alternatives to hardwood flooring.

Although cork trees take a little longer to replenish, both cork and bamboo are easy to regrow. Cork is harvested from the bark of cork trees, a process that doesn’t harm the trees. It takes ten years to regrow cork trees to their full potential. Bamboo isn’t a tree, but a grass, which is why the regrowth process is so quick and easy, taking only five years to fully replenish. Either one is a great ecological choice, especially when compared with traditional hardwood flooring, which can take 20-25 years to fully replenish.

It is important to note that bamboo does have a downside in this category. It can be considered less environmentally friendly than cork because it is processed with glues. Additionally, the bamboo industry is not yet regulated, which means that that various pesticides and chemicals could be used on the bamboo while it is growing.

Cost

Flooring costs for bamboo and cork are close, unless one option happens to be on sale at your local home improvement store. Cork tends to be the pricier of the two, but not by much.

When thinking about costs, it is important to take into additional requirements that could make one option more expensive than the other. Although cork can be a tad more expensive than bamboo, it usually doesn’t require an insulator, so it can be directly installed onto the existing foundation. On the other hand, bamboo usually needs an insulator material, which will raise your total initial spending.

No matter which product you choose, product, be sure to shop around in order to secure the best deal.

Keep in mind that when you shop for bamboo, you should only purchase a reputable brand name product, as quality can vary, costing you more repair and upkeep costs in the long run.

Durability

Bamboo and cork each have pros and cons in the durability department, so be sure to carefully consider your lifestyle before choosing one.

If you’re installing this flooring in a home with high traffic from children, pets, or high-heel wearers, cork may be the better choice. Because cork is softer than bamboo and hardwood, it's less likely to scratch from constant exposure to paws, claws, and point shoes. It also bounces back into shape (just like a wine cork does, so it won’t easily dent or warp. It is also quieter to walk on because the material absorbs sound and noise.

Cork is also highly resistant to mold, mildew, fire and insects, making it safe and healthy for pets and children to spend time on.

Bamboo also has benefits for homes with high traffic. This flooring material is harder than cork, which means that while it is more susceptible to scratches, it is also naturally stain resistant. However, even when accidents do happen and stains get through or the surface is scratched, it is easy to repair. Unlike cork, bamboo can have stains and scratches sanded or buffed out, which is a big plus. Keep in mind that although a bamboo can be sanded, it cannot be refinished, which means damaged planks often need to be completely replaced.

As for moisture, bamboo is not as moisture-resistant as cork, which has a natural waxy ingredient called suberin that keeps out moisture. However, neither is recommended for high-moisture areas without a proper sealant. When placed in an area with a lot of moisture, like a bathroom or basement, both products will have to be re-sealed with polyurethane regularly.

Appearance

Most people prefer the look of bamboo flooring over that of cork, which should be considered if you're thinking of selling your home in the next few years. Bamboo comes in multiple stains and colors, and it closely resembles hardwood in most instances, making it easy to incorporate into homes with existing hardwood.

Cork is also available in varying colors and designs, but it isn't as versatile or easy to incorporate, as no two cork tile pieces or planks will look exactly the same. Cork can look nice, but it won’t appeal to everyone’s tastes.

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