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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Pace

Cork: The New Wood

Unveiling the Health Benefits of Cork Flooring in Modern Living

By, Andy Pace

After 150 years in business, Amorim Cork is leading the way to an exciting change in the flooring industry.

I am confident in saying that most of us have been exposed to cork flooring and wall coverings many times throughout our lives even if you were unaware. Corkboard panels used behind a desk for notes and photos have been a fixture of corporate America for decades. Flooring materials that sort of look like wood but are softer with exotic patterns have been used in our libraries, schools, churches, and homes since the 1900’s. So why do I think this is the future of flooring in our homes when it’s clear, it's already well established? I discussed this with the world’s foremost authority on cork to get his perspective.

Antonio Amorim is the Chairman and CEO of the family-owned Portugal-based Amorim Cork, which was founded in 1870. Since 2001, Antonio has been the driving force of the company, and in many ways, the industry as a whole. We have all heard the term ‘sustainability’ thrown around by companies looking to signal their virtues on how much they care about our environment and its occupants. But Amorim is the real deal. Amorim is the dictionary definition of sustainable.

Cork is actually the bark of the cork oak tree that grows in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and other areas in the Mediterranean. For over 150 years, the experts at Amorim have been harvesting the bark from these trees about every 9 years. This does not harm the tree whatsoever. Cork trees can produce useable cork for at least 150 years, at which time the wood itself is harvested for other needs. Antonio says, “For every single ton of cork that you harvest, that has captured 73 tons of CO2. If you take that carbon footprint over 100 years, there is nothing comparable to cork.”

Why is Cork a healthy choice?

Cork is a natural material that is soft, warm, durable, and beautiful, of course. But have you thought about its other health benefits such as offering additional support to the human posture? Amorim Cork Flooring offers the perfect mix to reduce heel strike impacts and related body tensions, but is stable enough to help the foot impulse and provide the needed stability to reduce effort on walking and decrease body fatigue. The properties of cork offer a natural thermal insulation making cork floors very energy efficient. Cork is also an extremely efficient natural sound absorber because its cells work as an acoustic insulator. Amorim Cork Flooring floors can easily cut noise within a room and act as a noise buffer between the floor and the rooms underneath.

But not everyone has had the same love of the cork that I have had over the years. It’s clear that the US market is into the wood look. Luxury vinyl and laminate have been dominating in recent years, mainly because of the close-to-realistic wood look at some extremely attractive price points. That attractive price to you comes at a cost to the earth, due to fossil-based plastics. Amorim responded to this trend several years ago and launched WoodWise, which is a drop-and-lock material with a this PET layer that is textured and printed to look like various wood grains. Wood Wise has been an enormous hit, but Antonio knew that it didn’t go far enough.

Several years ago, Antonio and his team started on the process of eliminating all plastics from their product offerings, with a goal to be plastic-free by 2025. Their recent release of their Wood Bionatural XL is 100% natural and fossil plastic free. The core is made from cork, sugar cane waste, and other natural materials, and is completely recyclable. The wood and stone surface treatments are actually made from cutting-edge digital printing and 3D embossing technology, which is again, plastic-free. This is an INDUSTRY DISRUPTING technology. The vinyl and plastic laminate producers will be forced to change their ways, now that Amorim has shown it can be done without those ingredients.

When I asked Antonio about what he sees the next 20 years to look like, he had an extremely optimistic view of the industry. “A lot of companies will do what we do and will take sustainability in a serious way. As we all do with calories today, we will be doing with carbon footprint.” Antonio Amorim’s commitment to this is obvious. They are on a path to plant 1.5 million new trees in the next five years on a new 20,000-acre farm. While their payback on this won’t start to occur for at least 24 years, that’s not the point. “We cannot be preached to about what sustainability means when we have invested millions for such a long-term commitment.”

For information on different types of cork flooring and its wonderful properties.

By, Andy Pace

Healthy Home Concierge, Founder of the Green Design Center and Host of Non-Toxic Environments Podcast

Andrew Pace is a Healthy Home Concierge and Founder of The Green Design Center, a leading resource for homeowners and contractors looking to source products that are healthy and green and receive expert consulting advice on designing and building healthy green homes. Andrew is the host of Non Toxic Environments Podcast. He is a worldwide expert on green and healthy building products and services customers and contractors from around the globe. As founder of the oldest healthy building supply company in the United States, Andrew has become one of the single most helpful and educational experts dealing with the day-to-day concerns of those individuals who suffer from allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities. Andrew serves as a board member on the Change the Air Foundation and has been featured in numerous national media outlets.

Please follow along at @‌nontoxicenviornments and

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