Cork - Product Knowledge
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Cork is the name given to the bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus Suber), a member of the beech family, commonly found in western Mediterranean countries, especially Spain and Portugal.
The tree can live for hundreds of years and grows a thick, wonderful bark which is made of millions of tiny air cells, each lined with alternating layers of cellulose and a waxy substance called suberin. The bark acts as a protective shell in the harsh climate changes and numerous fires affecting the region. Cork bark's unique properties help protect the tree from forest fires, floods, droughts, molds and funguses, and more than 38 species of insects. These unique properties are retained in any products made from the bark.
This wonderful bark can be harvested every 9 to 14 years with absolutely no harm to the tree. The tree is never cut down to produce cork products. After the bark is harvested, it is drilled for wine bottle corks. What is left is reclaimed and ground up to make other products such as flooring. The ground up cork granules are put into large presses and heated up. The high pressure and high heat causes the cork to fuse together and become a large block of agglomerated cork. This large block can then be cut into cork flooring or cork underlayment, depending on density.
The properties of cork are derived naturally from the structure and chemical composition of the inner cells. Each cubic centimeter of cork's honeycomb structure contains between 30 and 40 million cells. These cells allow cork to provide:
Ninety percent of the tissue consists of gaseous matter, therefore, the density of cork is extremely low giving the material
wonderful insulating properties, thermal as well as acoustical.
When cork is subjected to pressure, the gas in each
cell is compressed and volume is reduced. When released from pressure, cork rapidly recovers to its original shape.
presence of suberin, an inherent waxy substance, renders cork impervious to both liquids and gases. As a result, it does not rot.
Many consider cork the best seal available.
Cork does not absorb dust and consequently does not contribute to allergies.
Cork is remarkably resistant to wear. Its cellular composition means it is less affected by impact and friction than
other hard surfaces.
A natural fire retardant, cork does not spread flames and does not release toxic gases during