MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- In this age of educated and environmentally aware consumers, cork and bamboo are gaining ground as trends in the wood flooring industry, according to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA).

"Cork and bamboo have recently surfaced as highly requested flooring choices. Not only are these selections aesthetically pleasing, but also versatile in application," says David Williams, NWFA president.

Cork is the bark from a specific type of oak tree found in Spain. Once the bark is removed from these trees, the cork is ground up, reconstituted with a binder and formed into blocks for flooring purposes. The blocks are then heated for coloring characteristics. Cork is popular for its environmental advantages, sound-deadening capabilities and non-skid characteristics.

Much like cork, bamboo regenerates quickly. Grown near the Shanghai region of China, bamboo is a grass that grows in stalk form. Flat strips are milled from the stalk's core and boiled in a boric-acid solution. The strips are then kiln-dried, sanded and laminated together. Like cork, bamboo is available pre-finished and unfinished.

"Because it is laminated like plywood, bamboo doesn't expand and contract with changes in temperature and moisture. Therefore, gaps, cupping and warping are less likely to form," said Williams.

NWFA suggests these general installation rules and techniques to ensure the quality of cork and bamboo flooring:

  • Have your installer check for moisture in the subfloor, adhesive and in the air. Cork should be installed in the least humid conditions possible.
  • Double-check the subfloor for imperfections before installing cork or bamboo flooring. Cork and bamboo can transfer any bumps or imperfections on the subfloor to their own surface.
  • Manufacturers recommend any quality hardwood floor finish and stain. Do not apply too much water-based finish, because excess moisture could cause the edges of the tile to lift.