Many homeowners look for flooring options that are soft and warm compared to conventional hardwoods and laminates. While vinyl is flexible and not so hard, carpet and cork are even softer, giving homeowners many choices when they have family members with special requirements. If you have older people, children or pets in your house, keep various factors in mind when choosing your flooring material, including health and safety. Since cork and carpet are the two softest flooring materials available, flooring experts have come up with a comparative study. Now you can figure out for yourself which will provide better value for money in your home.
How Cork and Carpet Flooring Are Made
Before comparing the pros and cons of both flooring materials, here is an overview of how each is made.
Cork flooring is made from the bark of cork trees. This is a natural material that is also a “green” flooring option as it is manufactured from trees that are harvested sustainably. Unlike how hardwood flooring is manufactured, cork trees are not cut down. The cork is ground up, compressed and mixed with resins to form sheets or tiles.
Carpet flooring is a synthetic option made by attaching an upper layer of carpet pile to a backing. It can be made either with wool or synthetic textiles like polypropylene, nylon and polyester which are more affordable substances.
A Comparison of the Advantages of Carpet and Cork Flooring
Let’s compare the advantages of carpet and cork flooring:
Cork flooring has a soft and cushiony surface and an average life span of 25 years. You can increase its lifespan further by adding a protective sealant and refinishing it from time to time to enhance its durability. However, due to its soft and malleable surface, it is susceptible to tears and snags from sharp edges and pointed objects like cat’s claws, furniture legs and high heels. Very heavy appliances like refrigerators can also leave permanent divots. However, these problems can be overcome somewhat by using furniture pads, keeping your pet’s claws trimmed and regular maintenance.
Carpet flooring has an average life span of 10 years. In high traffic zones, it can easily wear down. It is also prone to staining, making it a difficult choice in a household with pets and children. Carpet is not waterproof either and there is nothing you can do to prevent it from getting wet. On the other hand, water-repellent topcoats can be applied to cork, but it will get damaged in the case of flooding.
Cork flooring comes in tiles and planks which can be floated on or glued to the subfloor. They also come in peel and stick variants that are very easy to install as they already come with an adhesive surface. You can also have prominent grouts for cork flooring, so it is not essential to hire a professional to properly install these tiles or planks.
For carpet, it is highly recommended you get a professional installation as there are numerous complex tools and techniques involved that only a pro can handle.
Cleaning cork flooring is straightforward: you simply sweep and vacuum the surface with a hard surface vacuum to remove loose debris and dust. In case of a spill but the flooring is sealed, you can easily clean it using a mop and some water.
To avoid any lasting stains on carpet, the fibres should be immediately spot cleaned before the spill sets in. Frequent vacuuming and spot cleaning are essential to up-keep your carpet flooring. Periodic steam cleaning by professionals also keeps your floor well maintained and increases its lifespan.
Cork flooring is available in a variety of colours and stains, but the choice is limited compared to carpet. Cork flooring in different shades of brown can render an earthy and rustic charm to the space. Coloured cork tiles are also available, but they are not as popular or widely available.
Carpet flooring comes in a wide variety of textures, patterns and colours, giving you innumerable choices. But if you have an offbeat style of carpet flooring, matching it to your furniture every time you change the layout can be tricky. This is not a problem with cork, as the various earthy tones are versatile and complement all kinds of decor.
Homeowners looking for a soft flooring material are primarily interested in the comfort these types of flooring offer. Cork and carpet have similar comfort levels. While carpet is plusher, cork is more cushiony and slightly harder. Carpet is soft enough to sit and lie on, but cork is not as comfortable. Both are good choices, however, when you have youngsters running around as they cushion the impact when they fall down.
Cork and carpet are both affordable flooring materials and have similar price ranges, depending on the quality of the product. The difference in cost is primarily due to the installation method and any additional sealant used to enhance the surface. If you consider the price in the long run, cork flooring wins. It can be installed easily and its maintenance is not very expensive compared to the thorough professional attention carpet needs.
When you compare carpet and cork and consider all the factors, cork is the more cost-effective choice. The key is to shop from a reputable store that sells quality products at a competitive price.