Are cork floors a good choice for a home in a high desert climate?


Are cork floors a good choice for a home in a high desert climate?

Asked by Mary Beth Welch

We will be replacing our floors soon in our 14 yr old home. We live in south central Idaho which is considered high desert. The climate is very dry, and the winter/summer temperatures are more towards extreme than moderate. One salesman I talked to said exotic woods were not a good choice here, but I think he was more interested in selling me what he had, than answering my questions.

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Cynthia Phakos's picture

In looking at the weather in your region I found that your summers are very dry, withclear skies and sunny days. We too, live in a desert - though not a high desert, and sharethe clear skies in the summer, with many sunny days.

A problem with your climate and the use of cork is something that we have experiencedhere -- cork will fade with the UV rays of the sun. We installed a corkfloor in an office where the windows and doors faced south and though the windowshad window coverings the cork faded significantly where the door was left open forventilation in the summer.

  • I was astonished with how much it faded after only a year.
  • A dark brown cork floor went to a light yellow where it was hit by the sunlight, makingfor a sharp contrast under the area rugs.

I looked up a cork flooring manufacturer, Wicanders, which has a super hard aluminumoxide finish, similar to what is used on engineered wood flooring, thinking that if anymanufacturer has solved this problem it would be Wicander's. But I found that they toowarned against fading.

And so, if you are going to be getting direct sunlight into your spaces I would say thiscork is not the best choice, and a wood floor a better choice.

Cork does have advantages in that it is a good insulator, thermally as well as acousticallyand works well for footfall, something that wood flooring is not. Cork can be refinishedwith sanding and staining as wood can be.

For more information:

Read "Why is cork flooring considered better for the environment than wall-to-wall carpet?" a Q&A answered by Patrick Sheaffer.