Most people’s familiarity with cork involves wine stoppers. But in recent years, growing awareness about the need to be eco-friendly has driven builders and homeowners to consider using cork for other purposes. As a building material, after all, it’s hard to beat cork. It’s water-resistant, fire-resistant, and mold-resistant. Cork is also a very good insulator, thanks to its superior thermal properties. In addition, the use of cork is both sustainable and environmentally responsible. As a result, cork’s value is hard for anyone to deny. Would you like to learn more? Here’s what you need to know about cork.

Where Cork Comes From

Cork comes from cork oak trees, primarily in the Mediterranean region. According to the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, there are about 6.6 million acres of cork oak forests across Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France. The cork oak forests of the Mediterranean are home to one of the highest levels of biodiversity that can be seen anywhere in the world. Only the Amazon rainforest supports a higher level of biodiversity. The greater demand there is for cork products, the more cork oak trees will be planted to keep those forests healthy and robust. Cork oak forests provide a safe haven for thousands of species. One of them is the Iberian lynx, a critically endangered cat that only lives in southwestern Europe.

How Cork Is Harvested

Many trees are cut down in order to clear land for grazing cattle. Other forests are cleared so that the trees can be used in paper products and building materials. But cork oak trees are unique because they can be harvested without killing the trees. It is possible for these amazing trees to live up to 300 years! A mature cork oak tree can be harvested every nine years. The harvesting is done by hand using traditional implements. The average agriculturalist trains for about eight years to harvest cork. These are among the highest paid agriculturalists in Europe, making this industry a socially conscious as well as an environmentally friendly one. After it has been harvested, the tree grows more cork bark. It’s much like shearing a sheep. Shearing doesn’t harm the sheep, nor does harvesting bark harm the cork oak tree.

How Cork Products Are Manufactured

Cork planks are taken to manufacturing plants for processing. The most high-quality planks are often “punched” by hand to produce the most expensive wine stoppers. This results in a plank that is full of holes. But rather than simply tossing this in a landfill, the plants reuse it. The remaining cork is ground down into small granules so it can be remade into a wide range of products. One example is spray-on cork cladding material. To produce this, cork granules are combined with water-based acrylic resin. Since cork cladding can use the smallest of granules, nothing gets wasted in the manufacturing process. Even after cork has served its purpose, recycling can give it new life. Plus, cork is 100% biodegradable, unlike many other building materials. Thus, it’s an inherently eco-friendly product! 

Are you ready to bring the eco-friendly benefits of cork into your home or business? If so, then you’re in luck! ThermalCork Solutions provides cork building materials that will insulate and help protect your building, while keeping your impact on the environment low. If you have any questions, then be sure to get in touch with us today! Our team will be happy to help you, so don’t hesitate to call!