Did you know cork can be used for countertops? Read on to see some examples and learn about the pros and cons and how to take care of a cork countertop.
I have always thought of cork as a board you can hang on the wall and pin paper and pictures. I did not consider that it could be used for anything else. Just as I was, you may be surprised that it is used as flooring and countertops. Here we will focus on cork countertops and give you all the information you never knew about cork.
Table of Contents
- What is a Cork Countertop?
- Cork Design Options
- Cork Countertops Pros and Cons
- Different Types of Cork Laminate
- Cork Countertops vs Granite
- Maintenance and Repair of Cork Countertops
What is a Cork Countertop?
Cork has been a favorite material for floors for years. Now it is quickly becoming a favorite for countertops. It is lightweight, resists moisture and heat, and is easy to refinish. Cork countertops have a closed cell structure making them impermeable and non-porous. It resists water stains and prevents the growth of bacteria. In addition, it is made into thick slabs, making it ideal for countertop installation.
Depending on the type of cork, it can be harvested from cork grain or cork oak. Cork is a green solution for countertops because it is a renewable resource and environmentally friendly and sustainable. However, the cork can only be harvested every 9 or 10 years, depending on the source. Often, this is the same material that was initially used to make cork stoppers for wine bottles.
Cork Design Options
Cork is a perfect compliment to any kitchen decor and style. Cork planks come in various colors and patterns and quickly become a favorite material. Different tones are created for cork countertops by baking them with varying pigments of color. To achieve darker cork colors, the slabs are baked longer. There is no limitation to the color that can be created for cork countertops. Cork countertop prices vary based on the square foot and type of cork you choose.
Cork Countertops Pros and Cons
Cork is resilient and can absorb the fall when something is dropped on it. It will not break or scratch easily. When cared for properly, cork countertops will last for a long time.
Cork insulates naturally, and the countertops will remain at room temperature. As a result, they will not get hot or cold. They are also great sound absorbers. As a result, your kitchen may seem quieter once they are installed.
Cork naturally contains Suberin. This waxy material is a fire inhibitor and stops flames from spreading if it catches on fire. It also does not release any toxic fumes.
Even though cork is incredibly resilient, it does have some weaknesses. For example, if something sharp falls on the countertops, the countertop can be damaged permanently. When the cork is damaged, it is not easily repaired. In addition, cork is not as strong as other materials like natural stone or quartz.
Despite its resilience to scratches, dirt can cause scratches in the cork. Therefore, the countertop must be cleaned properly and regularly to keep particles from scratching it.
Different Types of Cork Laminate
Cork slabs come in two different styles to meet your own kitchen needs. These two styles are unfinished cork and pre finished cork.
Unfinished cork is a cork in its most natural state. This type of cork is easily stained, finished, and painted. They have not been sealed but must be sealed after they are installed as your countertop. It is possible to get cork that has been stained but not yet finished. There is an advantage to the style because the seal covers the entire countertop, including any edges and seams. This provides a stronger and more resistant countertop.
Pre Finished Cork
Pre finished cork is finished in the factory, and it does not need any type of sealing after it is installed. This allows for an easier installation with less work. However, this also means that these countertops are not as efficient at preventing moisture from penetrating the countertop.
Cork Countertops vs Granite
Granite is a natural and incredibly hard stone. It is mined from quarries, cut to an appropriate size and shape, then polished to a beautiful finish. Granite has mineral inclusions and is unique, so no two countertops look exactly alike. Granite is much harder and more resilient than cork.
Granite is expensive, making cork a much more affordable option. Cork is also more environmentally friendly than granite. Granite must be mined and use an incredible amount of energy. Granite is a non-renewable resource because it takes millions of years to form.
Granite comes in a wide variety of colors and shades giving you more options than with just cork. Granite is naturally absorbent, so it is critical that it is sealed properly by a professional to ensure it does not absorb any liquid.
Maintenance and Repair of Cork Countertops
Cork countertops must be installed properly with many layers of a high quality sealer product. Once that occurs, cork countertops are easy to care for properly. To clean the cork countertop, brush the crumbs and dirt off the surface of the countertop. After that, using a damp cloth, you can wipe down the countertop. You want to ensure that you clean up spills quickly, so it does not stain the countertop. When the cork is sealed, it creates a barrier that you cannot see on the surface of the cork. This offers a significant amount of protection from damage and staining.
The sealing for the countertop needs to be redone every so often. It is critical to keep in mind that while these seals provide some protection to the cork countertop. If there is a flood in the kitchen, the seal will not protect the countertop. It will discolor and warp. Cork does not do well in high humidity areas. It causes the cork to plump, curl, and buckle.
Heavy objects can leave pressure points on cork countertops. Heavy appliances that sit in one spot for long periods of time can leave permanent dents on the counter. You can prevent this from happening by not leaving appliances on the counter. You can use large and flat wood boards to support the appliances on the countertop.
As mentioned above, sunlight damages the cork and discolors it. You could have areas of your cork countertop that are discolored and look different from the rest of the countertop. You can have patches on your countertop as a result. It would be best if you considered using blinds or curtains from coming into the kitchen. This requires you to be vigilant about protecting your cork countertops.
You may need to consider having your cork countertops resurfaced from time to time. This helps it keep a fresh look. To have the countertops refinished, they need to be sanded down enough to remove all imperfections or damage. After this, they must be stained, finished, and sealed. If the counter is thick enough, this could be done several times. However, if the surface cork layer is thin, which is typical in engineered cork flooring, it may not be a good candidate for refinishing and needs replacement.