So much of interior design today is about what looks and feels good for the space, which is a really good thing. But rarely do terms like environmentally friendly, green or earth friendly come up when browsing or selecting finishes, which is not a great thing. In fact, search for "green" tile and that is what you will get, images of bright, vivid green colored tile. Although "green" is a term identified with eco sensible products, when searching for design selections you will find no mention of whether their production has an environmental impact, is made from recycled content, is sustainable and or has minimal impact on our environment. And if you do set out to "go green", you will find that words like eco and sustainable have been pegged to price points that make them difficult to budget for. Which leaves most consumers wondering about recommendations for what is consider to be a cool stylish tile that does a great job of ticking off all the boxes for being a conscious consumer with good interior design sense. Luckily, I have found something that is as hip for interior design as it is for the most ardent of tree huggers, cork mosaic penny round tiles.
These stylish little 3/8 inch slivers of the best Cabernet wine stoppers made are a real all natural cork tile made from cork that is sustainably harvested. ( Yep , we didn't kill the tree). And for a bunch of reasons, they are a great choice as an a attractive tile or flooring choice made both for the sake of our environment and one that makes great sense for quality interior design, Which, sadly, is pretty rare. So many of the tile choices that are available are produced regardless of their impact on the world, . A great example of this is the recent front page scandal with Lumber Liquidadators who are alleged to have used formaldehyde in their manufacturing process. This great sin in production is an ecological slap in the face and horrible for the consumer who has the same stuff they preserve frogs for dissection in biology classes leaking into the homes and feet and consumers.
So for the conscious consumer wrapped in thoughts of packaging waste, ecological damage, carbon foot prints, toxicity and a myriad of other "green" considerations, it can be difficult if not almost impossible to keep environmental concerns at the top of the list when choosing materials for interior design. Luckily cork mosaic tiles are not only a very "green" choice,but the harvest and production of cork actually benefits the environment and the Tree.
Cork mosaic tiles which are sustainably harvested from the cork oak tree (QuercusSuber L) are a multi-functional and multi-purpose material. Every part of the cork oak tree serves some useful economic purpose. Typically, harvest production sees more than 50% of the cork bark going into the production of different types of wine stoppers and enclosures for the bottling industry. The residual production utilizes corks tremendous inherent technical properties relating to sound absorption, thermal insulation, vibrational dampening, lightness its durability. Which translates into a great list of benefits to the homeowner for choosing cork over other materials.
Benefit number one is cork is quiet. Cork reduces sound transmission between and within rooms, creating a quieter and more peaceful living and working environments. It is durable. The cellular structure of cork makes it very resilient, and capable of withstanding years of wear and tear while maintaining the look of a newly installed floor. It is soft and comfortable under foot and so it reduces stress and strain of muscles and bones which get weary walking barefoot of hard surfaces, It is slip resistant so for seniors or kids bathroom or wet areas, cork mosaics are a very wise choice. It is water resistant which means that is can handle the pressures of bathrooms, showers and steam rooms. It is warm. Literally, cork is naturally warm to the touch which makes morning for most of Americans during winter much more tolerable. And finally it is easy to maintain. Thanks to the smooth texture, resilience, and durability, cork can last indefinitely with minimal upkeep. It is so durable that it is rated and used for commercial usages like restaurant floors.
But for most of us, it still comes down to how good it looks. And this "green" tile looks great and there is a great bonus benefit to using cork besides the fact we don't kill the tree to use its bark. Cork trees and the environment both benefit from the removal of the exterior layer of bark used for the production. According to the World Wildlife Federation, a cork tree which has its bark removed every 9 years, will absorb 3-5 times as much CO2 ( carbon dioxide( than a similar tree that is left idle. The tree needs to store the CO2 so it can regenerate and so harvesting helps to reduce green house gases.
So if you are looking for a product that is natural, biodegradable, renewable and recyclable (see another great option) and yes stylish and attractive, cork penny rounds are an excellent choice for interior design and our planet. And when it comes to installation, they are also like most tiles so for any DIY or pros they are easy to install.
Are you trying to design "green"? Tell us what you think of cork and any other great materials you love and that love the earth .