Before you can fully appreciate this floor material you really need to understand what this material cork is and what makes it special.
What is Cork and Where Does it Come From?
Cork is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree found in the Mediterranean. Cork comes from seven countries including Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, Morocco and France. Of these countries, Portugal is by far the largest producer of cork with over 30% of the world's cork trees and 70% of the world's cork production.
The Whistler Tree shown in the above photo (which got its name from the birds who nested in it) is the world's oldest currently producing cork oak tree and was planted in 1783 in the Alentejo region of Portugal near the town of Åguas de Moura. Cork trees are harvested by hand every nine years and this one yielded one ton of raw cork in 1991, enough for over 100,000 wine bottle corks versus the typical yield of 4,000 corks.
Cork bark is made up of a tiny sealed honeycomb cellular structure (14-sided polyhedrons) containing gas of 90% air. These cells provide resiliency (cushion) and insulation and there are about 40 million of these cells per cubic centimeter. Cork can be compressed up to 40% and quickly returns to its original shape. This all works to make cork a very special flooring material.