Why Use Cork Underlayment?
Cork underlayment is a brilliant noise reducer making it a wonderful addition to floors made from hard surfaces such as ceramic tiles or natural wood.
Cork is extremely flexible and resilient as anyone who has opened a corked wine bottle will know. It is also a completely natural product and one that actually benefits the environment.
If cork board wasn’t harvested from the cork oak tree it is unlikely that these trees would survive the 200 plus years that they last when properly harvested and looked after. There is almost no waste products created by the harvesting process either. To top it all there is no toxic emissions released into our atmosphere making the underlayment a truly green product.
Where Can You Use Cork Underlayment?
If you live in a condo, you are probably restricted by the building codes on the type of flooring products you can use. Most people think that you are prohibited from using ceramic, stone, marble or natural hardwood floors. You probably are restricted in the use of these materials unless you use something like cork underlayment.
Using cork underlayment in preparation of the flooring surface will reduce the noise effects that the condominium association is worried about. Not all cork underlayment is made in the same way and some brands are inferior to others. You need to make sure the brand of cork underlayment you buy has been tested for sound control and meets the building code requirements. The type and thickness of cork underlayment you will need will depend on the structure of the building you are using it in. For example you need a different thickness of cork board with a suspended ceiling.
Cork board for laminate flooring underlayment
Laminate flooring is usually laid as a floating floor. This means that it isn’t glued to the sub floor but sits on top of it. Using cork underlayment will help reduce the noise caused by walking on laminate flooring. Some people will tell you to buy a really thick cork board to make the wooden floor more comfortable to walk on. But it doesn’t work in the same way as putting cork underlayment under carpet does. Cork underlayment combined with carpet will result in a spongier floor. With a wooden floor the difference is a lot less noticeable. The main benefit is the noise reduction and also the prevention of loss of heating.
If you are using cork underlay for engineered or laminate wooden floors you will be looking for different specifications than those required for ceramic or stone tiles. Most cork underlayment should be glued down. Using nails or screws will create a noise point and that will affect the suitability of the cork underlayment to meet the requirements of the building codes.
What other uses for cork underlayment are there?
Cork underlayment can also be used to level floors. Sometimes home owners decide that they wish to put the same type of flooring throughout one level of their home. But when they take up the existing flooring, the subfloors may not be level throughout. You can use cork underlayment to increase the height of the floor in the room most affected and then get a level finish with your new choice of flooring.
What type of cork underlayment should you buy?
Don’t be tempted to buy the cheapest cork board sheets on the market. You need to buy the most suitable product for the job in hand. Some cork manufacturers pay more attention to the processing mechanism than others. The better companies will ensure that the cork is processed and treated to reduce the amount of tannins and other pollutants in the natural product as possible. The manufacturing process should also reduce the likelihood of the underlayment to have mold problems. Don’t forget that you may need a damp proof membrane as well as the cork underlay. You don’t want to lay an expensive ceramic or marble floor only to find you have to take it up again as the cork you bought was an inferior product.