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Cork, linoleum and bamboo flooring Review

Bottom Line Reviewers recommend cork, linoleum or bamboo for people who want flooring made of easily renewable resources. When people talk about "green" flooring, they are usually referring to cork or bamboo. Cork (*est. $4 to $10 per sq. ft.) is harvested without killing the tree. Bamboo (*est. $3 to $10 per sq. ft.) is a fast-growing grass that gives the appearance of wood. And linoleum (*est. $3 to $7 per sq. ft.) is composed of pine resins, sawdust, cork dust and limestone attached to a jute backing. Cork is easy to install and can be as quiet and warm underfoot as carpeting. However, uncoated cork flooring is absorbent and easily stained, making it a poor choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Linoleum is a good option for wet areas, but it needs frequent finishing because it is porous, and it's not as stylish as cork or bamboo. Bamboo is a preferred "green" choice over hardwood flooring (*est. $7 to $12 per sq. ft.) because it takes from three to six years to reach maturity compared with more than 50 years for oak or maple.

Pros

  • Made of easily renewable resources
  • Can look stylish
  • Bamboo is very durable

Cons

  • Cork sometimes has plastic coating
  • Linoleum needs more upkeep than vinyl
  • Linoleum offers fewer design options
Our Analysis
Specs
Consumer Reports covers "green" flooring options in its Aug. 2008 report. The actual rankings chart, however, requires a subscription. We found good general information on bamboo and cork flooring on the website of home-improvements columnist Tim Carter, and information about cork flooring on the website of home-improvement columnist James Dulley.

Our Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org
Editors of Consumer Reports, Aug. 2008

Consumer Reports discusses the pros and cons of "green" flooring, including bamboo, cork and linoleum. Ratings are only available to subscribers. Editors discuss installation considerations.

Tim Carter,

Columnist Tim Carter answers readers' questions. A number of his replies cover bamboo, cork and linoleum flooring. There are articles here covering installation, preparation of the subfloor and sections on common problems you might encounter.

James Dulley,

This brief but helpful free report covers cork flooring. A separate buyer's guide to cork flooring brands with manufacturer and installation information (*est. $3) can be ordered from the author.

Editors of FlooringGuide.com,

Bamboo is discussed as a "specialty" flooring in this how-to guide to different types of flooring. The brief article discusses how bamboo is harvested.

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