Both strand woven bamboo flooring and cork flooring are typers of sustainable flooring. This means that they are made from renewable resources. Both types of flooring are excellent alternatives to hardwood flooring because they both have a low carbon footprint, look natural and beautiful and are healthy for people and pets.
Strand woven bamboo flooring is made by cutting bamboo into strips and then boiling them to remove the sugars that attract termites. Then the strips are mixed with a low VOC adhesive and compressed under heat. The resulting block of strand woven bamboo is then sent to a mill to be cut into flooring planks. Bamboo is the fastest growing species in the world and within 5 to 6 years is ready to be harvested. Bamboo has a natural resistance to pests and pathogens and can be grown organically. Furthermore, bamboo stops soil erosion, cleans soil and produces more oxygen than trees. For these reasons bamboo is an excellent renewable resource that makes beautiful and strong flooring.
Cork flooring comes from the cork oak tree. The cork oak tree grows a new bark every nine years and it is this bark that is peeled off the tree without damaging the tree and that is used to make cork flooring. Cork is a very environmentally friendly material because it can be harvested without killing the tree or negatively impacting on the environment. For centuries rural communities in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco have been harvesting cork, tending the ancient cork forests and gaining a livelihood from cork. The cork bark is boiled to remove the outer woody bark, and then the cork is ground up and mixed with low VOC adhesive and compressed.
This is a similar process to strand woven bamboo but unlike strand woven bamboo flooring, cork flooring is soft. That is not to say cork flooring is not strong but rather its microscopic honeycomb structure is filled with an air-like gas that makes cork compress under pressure or weight and ‘spring back’ when that pressure or weight is removed. This structure also makes cork a good acoustic and thermal insulator.
In contrast strand woven bamboo flooring is one of the hardest flooring types available to buy. It reflects heat and noise rather than absorbs them.
Where strand woven bamboo and cork flooring are similar is that they are mold and fungus resistant and anti-microbial as well as being resistant to dust mites. Hardwood flooring is resistant to dust mites but isn’t anti-microbial. It is dust, mold and microbes that frequently are the cause of allergic rhinitis. Cork is anti-microbial because it contains suberin, bamboo because it contains a ‘kun’ substance. Both these natural substances fight off pests and pathogens.
Finally, both cork and strand woven bamboo flooring have grain and a natural tan color. They are both cheaper than hardwood flooring. Strand woven bamboo flooring can stand up to higher traffic situations but cork feels soft and is a very comfortable flooring type.