Today I take you to Portugal. Or rather in the land of cork. Indeed, there are the world’s largest harvests of cork. And you will see, it is a magnificent and above all instructive journey. Indeed, this rather exceptional material returns in our interiors in many forms. And Leroy Merlin offers certain products in its stores which, I am sure, will convince you!
The cork : a unique material
Indeed, we all know this material, but sometimes we forget its origin and its multiple properties. In addition, it has been used for many generations. Even Cleopatra must have had pairs of cork shoes to tell you!
But let’s go back to our time. The material is taken from the tree called the cork oak tree. And Portugal is made up of many forests endowed with this tree called the cork groves of which only 10% of them have been planted by man.
Harvesting in the heart of cork groves
Currently, this is done by hand using an ax suitable for this method. This step is called debarking. To give you a chronological order, let’s start again from the birth of a cork oak tree. You will have to wait for 25 years before carrying out the first debarking. Then 9 years later we can take its bark again, and this again every 9 years. The lifespan of a cork oak tree is 200 years on average, but some trees persist and still produce quality cork with many more years behind them.
Cork: renewable and responsible
Here is how I will describe this unique material by its virtues and its origin:
Renewable : because as you can understand, unlike other natural materials, the bark does not kill the tree, simply remove a layer which serves as a coat, and this approximately every 9 years. It is all the more for this that the harvest is carried out during a specific period of the year. It usually starts in May and ends in July. Because without its coat the tree must not be exposed to the cold of winter and the extreme heat of summer.
Responsible : because cork oak forests absorb CO2 and preserve biodiversity by welcoming flora and fauna, which are mostly endangered. Indeed, a tree which has to reconstitute its bark absorbs 5 times more CO2 than normal.
And never again underestimate a small cork bottle stopper, because even it continues to contain CO2! It just goes to show that producing cork does a lot of good for the planet. Few of the farms and productions contribute to the health of biodiversity and nature.
From cork to flooring
Once the cork is removed, head to a sorting plant, just a few kilometers from the forest. The pieces of cork are stored outside, then treated with steam. Then we move on to sorting, carried out by hand under the watchful eye of the workers. And it is according to the quality of the cork, that these gentlemen sort them. Subsequently, different routes will be possible. Indeed, if it turns out to be of very high quality then it will be transformed into a stopper for renowned spirits. Conversely, it may be transformed into granules and then compressed, to compose a floor covering or a decorative or utilitarian object if the bark is less noble.
A variety of unimaginable products can be created from cork. And that’s what fascinated me! As this material has multiple virtues, this gives it a fairly coveted place in many areas. There are many of them, which is why we can find cork, in a rocket, a house, a football field or even a wind turbine. I was quite impressed with its multiple uses.
It turns out that for the floor, the qualities of cork meet most of our expectations. As it is a very good thermal and acoustic insulator, and because it has resistance to impact thanks to its physical shape memory property, it provides us with incomparable walking comfort and bodily well-being.
The future of flooring with Leroy Merlin
Leroy Merlin did not hesitate for a second to offer these cork flooring. And they were right. Because the latter provide aesthetics and well-being. A winning combination for the design of our interiors and respect for the environment.
Leroy Merlin highlights different finishes and styles of installation. But the composition remains the same. In addition, you can even opt for these floors in your bathroom. Cork has waterproof properties. Cork flooring can outfit your whole home. For an interior that respects your environment and that of our planet, what could be better than choosing this material to bring a natural but equally stylish touch to each of our rooms!