Recycled Wine Corks for Eco-Friendly Penny Tile Flooring

Corks on a hardwood floor.

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Cork is pretty versatile, given its credentials as a renewable material. The bark harvested from the cork tree renews itself each season, so the tree itself remains unharmed. So, it's no surprise to see it popping up as furniture, fabric, jewelry, ornaments, accessories, cutting boards, and of course as flooring.

Cork tiles can lend a warmer feeling to any room. While cork planks and tiles are not bad, these cork penny tiles from Canadian-based Jelinek Cork Group are even better, being both stylish and eco-friendly (ie. made from recycled wine corks). Plus, they do a good job of masquerading as ceramic tile, without the need to fire them at high temperatures.

Through initiatives like the CorkReHarvest drop-off recycling program, Jelinek collects old wine corks to be cut into circular discs of 1⁄4" thick. The tiles are then glued onto a special paper backing to form mosaic patterns, and can also be painted and arranged in different colors as well. The tiles are glued to the subfloor and then grouted like regular ceramic tile and sealed with polyurethane to boost cork's natural water-resistance (best done with a low-VOC polyurethane sealant).

Some advantages to cork flooring: it's an excellent insulator & sound absorber, hygienic, anti-static, anti-allergenic, water-resistant, doesn't entrap dirt or fungi, won't chip like ceramic when you drop something on it, plus it is easy to maintain.

With reuse potential like this, however, it's no wonder cork is showing up everywhere and is one material definitely worth considering for a greener remodel.