Yep, that’s right. The same stuff that keeps your wine contained – and the same stuff used in bulletin boards – is also used to make floor mats. Actually, cork has many different uses, from wall and ceiling coverings that dampen sound, to incredible arts and crafts. And believe it or not, cork is one of the most environmentally friendly, sustainable materials available for use in such applications.
The Cork Oak Tree
Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, or Quercus suber. This outer bark is able to grow back after it has been removed, and so it can be harvested again and again, without harming or killing the tree. Talk about a renewable resource!
When a cork oak tree is about 20 years old, its bark is ready to be harvested for the first time. This is simply done by peeling. After this first harvest, the bark regenerates itself fully every nine or ten years, and is then harvested again. This cycle continues until the tree reaches the ripe old age of 200 years old. At that point, the tree is removed, and two new saplings are planted to take its place.
Benefits of Cork Mats
Cork floor coverings are not only beautiful to look at, they’re also extremely resilient, provide insulation from cold and heat and a comfortable, supportive cushion underfoot, and are easy to care for.
Their natural origins give them a unique beauty that can add an outdoorsy touch to any space, while at the same time providing them with a natural durability that guarantees they’ll last for a long time.
Hard floors, such as tile or wood, can see their temperatures fluctuate with the seasons, but even when it’s too cold to walk barefoot on that hard surface, your cork mat will still be just right for kicking those shoes off. Its insulative properties ensure that it will always be a comfortable temperature.
Cork floor mats are also a great way to cut down on leg fatigue for those who stand for a great part of the day. Their springy cushion provides comfortable support to tired feet and legs.
Cork Mat Care
Luckily, cork floor mats are very easy to care for. Usually finished with a clear protective coating to ensure a smooth rolling surface for an office chair, cork mats couldn’t be simpler to keep clean. Vacuuming and sweeping are not necessary, and neither are harsh chemical cleaners. In fact, these can actually be harmful to your cork mat. Instead, dust your mat with a damp cloth. In case of a sticky spill, mild soap can be used in addition to a damp cloth.
By taking proper care of your cork floor covering, you’ll be able to enjoy all its benefits for years to come. And just think – once you’ve had that mat for ten years, the tree that your cork came from will be ready for harvesting again. And maybe, just maybe, 150 years or so from now, your great-grandchildren will be buying themselves a cork mat made from that same tree! Isn’t cork amazing?