Coconut flooring and cork flooring are two examples of sustainable flooring because they are both made from renewable resources. Although they share similar environmental and health credentials they differ greatly.
Coconut palms are not trees. They are ‘woody plants’. Coconut palms take only 5 to 6 years to reach maturity, but they are generally not harvested for their timber until they stop producing coconuts which is 50 to 70 years after sprouting. Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. The bark is peeled off without damaging the tree and grows back after 9 years. In both cases, cork and coconut timber production can keep up with demand and so both materials are renewable.
Cork flooring is strong and long lasting as is coconut flooring, but they differ in properties. Cork flooring is soft underfoot and springy. Cork has a light, mottled appearance. In contrast, coconut flooring is very hard like hardwood flooring. It has a dark, striped appearance.
The production of both types of flooring are limited to certain spots in the world. Most of the world’s cork comes from Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Portugal, Tunisia and Morocco. The coconut palm cannot survive frost and needs hot, humid conditions to flourish. Most of the world’s coconut flooring is made in Indonesia, the Philippines and Polynesia. The geographical limitations of both types of flooring means that carbon emissions are inevitable in the transportation of these flooring types to markets in North America and other areas.
Both cork flooring and coconut flooring are anti-allergenic because they prevent dust mites breeding. Cork flooring is superior from a health point of view because the suberin in cork makes the flooring also mold resistant, fungal resistant and antibacterial. Furthermore, cork flooring is fire retardant.
For all these differences, both cork flooring and coconut flooring offer excellent alternatives to hardwood flooring that are long lasting and capable of withstanding high traffic and heavy furniture.