Cork Tile Floors Vs. Ceramic Tile Floors

Installing cork tile floors is one of the cheapest ways to achieve a natural look on your flooring. Compared to other natural flooring materials like hardwood or bamboo, cork tiles are less expensive. If you have been thinking of using cork tiles, it will be helpful to carefully consider all its qualities first and compare it to other types of flooring material. Here are the pros and cons of cork tiles in comparison to ceramic tiles.

Ease of Installation

Cork tiles can easily be installed using adhesive, while ceramic tiles need cement material to stick onto the substrate. When the cement dries, grout needs to be applied in between the tiles. Thus, ceramic tiles take more effort and longer to install.


A cork tile has a “memory” trait, allowing them to withstand regular foot traffic. When pressed under a heavy object, the tiles are also capable of bouncing back. However, there is a limitation to its resiliency. Permanent dents can form on cork tiles if they are exposed to pressure from heavy objects over a long period. It may help to place protective pads underneath furniture legs.

Ceramic tiles are durable and have a hard non-flexible surface. It can withstand any amount of foot traffic and weight of heavy furniture.


Cork tiles are made from tree bark, which has the capacity to keep warmth in. This type of flooring can be comfortable and warm to walk on during the colder months, whereas ceramic tiles are cold and can be uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet. This drawback, however, can be remedied with a radiant heating system installed beneath the tiles.

Maintenance Needs

For cork tiles to maintain their rich natural color and to resist water absorption, it needs to be coated with a waterproofing material like polyurethane. This coating usually lasts 4 to 5 years and needs to be re-applied after that period. With a protective coating in place, however, cork tiles will need little maintenance. Floors just need to be regularly cleaned, and water spills should be dried immediately.

Ceramic tiles basically have no maintenance needs. They just need regularly sweeping and cleaning with a damp cloth.

Design Variety

Due to the natural material that cork tiles are made from, designs are very limited. These tiles are only available in brown shades ranging from light to dark. Their shades, however, tend to discolor when regularly exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. This is why cork tiles are not recommended for installation in living rooms that catch sunlight all throughout the day.

Ceramic tiles, on the other hand, are available in a variety of designs and colors. Homeowners can even choose to customize individual tile design or whole flooring design by creating a pattern using different colored tiles. Also, unlike cork tiles, these designs and colors do not fade under prolonged sunlight exposure.

Ceramic tiles are also available in different textures to provide the needed resistance. Bathroom and garden ceramic tiles, for instance, are rough-textured to prevent them from being slippery when wet.