Short version - We had hardwood installed incorrectly and have just received the judgement from the Contractor State Licence Board and will be replacing all the glued down hardwood with either engineered, laminate, or cork. I am seriously interested in cork due to my allergies to dust and everything else and would really like to calm my fears before I spend the additional $ on the floors.
First question: I am wavering on which type to get, I like the look of Natural Cork Granada Floating Floor, but know that we would have to have transition strips between the rooms (into the hallway from the great room), has this been an issue for anybody else? I would go with a cork tile if I find a style I like.
Second question: I have two aussies between 50 and 60 lbs and I know what they have done with the hardwood due to using their claws to stop them from slidding into the walls. Does any of you who have cork and dogs note that the dogs do not slip on the cork or slide across it? Also, do your dogs cause any scratches in the cork? If they do cause scratches are they mendable?
I really appreciate any assistance or information that I can get from first hand experience. I definetly am wary of making the same mistake twice with my flooring choice.
I can't advise you on the type of cork to get, since we do not have cork floors. However it was a material used in some original Eichlers and I have even seen some that is still there today and in pretty decent shape. However, like any flooring material, there are tradeoffs.
First, cork will fade -- most prominently with exposure to UV light (a given in Eichlers and Strengs due to the amount of glass) and less prominently with incandescent light. Those that I have spoken to in the past (interviewing for research on our own flooring choice; later when researching for an article I was working on) report noticable fading as soon as the one year mark. You will see the outlines of throw rugs and furniture so if you do it, some advise to go with the lightest cork you can tolerate and expect fading. If the idea of fading is a compromise that you are unwilling to make, don't do cork.
I don't have dogs, but have heard of some homeowners with dogs installing it for this very reason (preventing slipping) and they report that since cork is not slippery, their dogs don't slide. However, it is a pretty soft material, so the 2nd issue is that things dropped on it can temperorarily ding it and it can be cut if something sharp hits it. From what I have heard, it cannot be repaired--only replaced, so if you do cork, buy lots of extra tiles.
I also know if some homeowners with fading that tried to find a way to restore the cork by sanding and restaining it. They interviewed many professionals and the end result was that they replaced all the cork (very reluctantly, since it was original to the house and they were in restoration mode) since all that they talked to indicated that since cork was such as soft material and had only the thinnest top layer, it would be an impossible task.
There are some nice rubber-based flooring materials that come in tiles reminiscent of the original linoleum common to many Eichlers. They are beautiful and from what I can remember, do not appear slippery, though you would have to confirm. For feedback from someone who has done this, you might try e-mailing Marty Arbunich, owner of the Network, as he installed this floor in his Eichler X-100 home. It looks beautiful.
One last thing. You may want to go over to the flooring forum at http://www.thathomesite.com and post your inquiry there. There have been several discussions of "dogs and flooring" in the past, as well as chat about cork.
Good luck with your research.