I was surprised when some friends of mine recently installed cork floors in their bathrooms. I’d heard that chefs love cork floors for their kitchens because it is 50 percent air and very buoyant. It is also incredibly durable, as is noted in the New York Public Library, where the 50-year-old floors are as good as new despite heavy traffic. But bathrooms?
Cork is impervious to moisture. It never rots, impregnated as it is with a natural, waxy substance that is totally water repellant. What better material for a bathroom floor or bath mat? With a cork bath mat, you don’t have to worry about picking up the mat to dry it out so as not to have mold grow in it or under it. A cork floor is naturally protected from water damage.
I had assumed the only reason my friends had chosen cork was because it was eco-friendly — which it is. Cork oak trees grow in Spain and Portugal. The trees can live for more than 500 years, but the outermost bark can be sustainably harvested every 9 years.
Do-it-yourselfers out there can lay your own cork floors; it is less expensive per square foot than some hardwood floors, and it comes in easy-to-assemble blocks and other shapes. Just make sure to buy pure cork, not cork that has been treated with synthetic chemicals such as polyurethane coating.