Cork Insulation and Cladding – The Next Big Eco Thing?

Why Cork Insulation and Cladding look set to become the next big Eco Products.

cork tree

We are always on the lookout for the next big thing in Eco construction, and it looks as though now Cork Insulation might be it.

Why Cork Insulation?

There are various reasons for cork insulation making its way steadily into the construction market, not least amongst those being its environmental credentials.

The Properties of Cork

The purpose of cork in its natural setting is to guard the cork oak tree from changes in temperature and to regulate both moisture and heat conditions. The insulating function of the cork is supported by the material’s cellular honeycomb structure. Cork is organic, lightweight, and displays far better performance for both thermal and acoustic insulation. Even in the most extreme conditions, cork insulation sheets don’t cause heat bridges.

Durability

Cork is naturally fire-resistant and is resistant to damage by mould because of a waxy substance within it called suberin. This is produced by the bark of the tree. Upon combustion, cork will not release any toxic gases, and the material is impermeable and will not rot either. Cork boards will also not slump due to their lightweight nature, and thus ensure adherence to insulation guidelines.

Ease of Installation

Cork insulation is very easily installed. It can be fitted either by adhesive or mechanical fixing. Due to its softness, cork can be cut to shape quite easily and the cutting does not need skilled precision. The elasticity of cork insulation and cladding allows the sheets to be fitted easily to curved surfaces or complex façades. The cork can be given various surface treatments.

Cork’s Environmental Credentials

Cork is entirely natural, and it doesn’t require that the cork tree is felled. Once the bark of the tree is extracted and has been graded for quality, it is then processed into granules which are placed into an autoclave where it is steamed. This causes the cork to expand and bond with the natural resin. Therefore, no chemical additives are necessary in the manufacturing of cork insulation and cladding, giving cork the lowest embodied energy of all commonly used insulating materials. Cork is also entirely recyclable.

Image: Still ePsiLoN

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