From tree to cork floor
Cork production is time-consuming, demands patience, hard work, and craftsmanship. Cork oaks are stripped for the first time when they have reached a circumference of 80 cm. A tree will not reach this size until it is at least 25 years old. Virgin cork has a coarser structure. Only the second harvest will produce the necessary finer quality. But patience is needed because cork oaks can only be stripped every 10 years.
Cork is harvested during the summer months. This is when sap levels are highest and the bark can be removed more easily. It's a difficult job that can only be done by hand and by experienced and skilled cork strippers. Because one cut too deep can damage the growth tissue of the tree. It is an exacting task, but one that can command above average rates of pay on the plantations.
Quality must mature
The cork bark is stacked and dried for six months in the open air. It is then sorted by thickness and quality. Before processing can start, the pieces of bark are boiled and steamed. This purges the material of insects, parasites and dirt. The procedure also removes the tanning agent tannin and makes the material more flexible. Then the cork is left to rest again for a few weeks. It is placed in aired chambers to mature and stabilize.
High-quality cork for natural floors
Very high quality cork with low porosity and few cracks is required for wine bottle stoppers. The cork left over after the stoppers have been punched out is granulated. These high-quality granules provide the basis for our cork floors. The granules are sorted and pressed under heat and high pressure into thick blocks. Then the pressed cork is cut into panels, sanded and may then be glued onto wood-based core material surface-treated. At this point, we refrain from applying the PVC coating used by some manufacturers, to retain as much of the natural cork surface as possible. After all, we want our customers to enjoy this unique material in all its natural glory.