If you’ve ever noticed how fast a wine cork pops back into shape when it’s released from the bottle, you have a good idea of how springy and flexible cork is. Its shock-absorbent structure translates to comfort underfoot — a real boon in spots where you spend long periods standing, such as in the kitchen or in a home gym. This also means that dropped glassware or china has less change of shattering. Plus it holds warmth and muffles sound like a champ.
Cork also has serious green cred. The trees gradually regenerate their bark after it’s harvested and the harvesting process itself is strictly regulated in order to keep damage to a minimum. Because the trees can live between one and two centuries, cork is a long-term renewable resource. And if there’s an allergy sufferer in your home, it’s dream material. It doesn’t accrue dust and it contains suberin, a natural substance that fends off mold, mildew, rot, and pests.
Fans of cork adore its natural variations in tone and texture, which creates a richness and depth that even the best manufacturers can’t replicate. If you’d rather go for a bold look, cork can be dyed or stained any shade that suits your fancy.