There are several benefits to using cork underlayment instead of a synthetic underlayment such as foam. Cork underlayment can be used under carpets, hardwood flooring, bamboo flooring, tiles and coconut flooring. It is also suitable for floating installations and nail down installations.

One of the major benefits of cork underlayment is that it is made from a renewable resource. Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree that grows in Southern Europe and Northern Africa. The bark of the cork oak can be peeled off the tree without damaging the tree. After nine years the bark grows back thicker and more uniform. Because cork underlayment is made from a renewable resource it is a good example of green interior design.

The purpose of underlayment is to correct any minor imperfections in a subfloor, to protect the flooring from moisture and mildew and to deaden the sound of footsteps. Cork underlayment meets these criteria. Cork is made up of millions of small cells that trap air. It is this structure that makes cork 'elastic', allowing it to compress and expand. This give and take of cork underlayment is perfect for correcting any flaws in the subfloor. Also cork is water resistant and mildew resistant thus providing excellent protection for the flooring above it. And the honeycomb structure of cork makes it great insulating material. Cork underlayment will not only absorb the sound of footsteps but it will also absorb and keep heat. This property of cork underlayment helps insulate a room and cut down on heating bills in the winter.

Furthermore cork contains a substance called suberin that makes it anti-allergenic underlayment. Cork is both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. This provides extra protection for the flooring and also gives a great foundation for people intent on making their living environment allergen free because they suffer from allergies or asthma.

The only thing to remember about cork underlayment is that it is water resistant not water proof. If the subfloor is concrete or in a basement it is very important to first lay down a 6mm moisture barrier to protect the underlayment from water damage.

The alternative to cork underlayment is often foam. Foam is a synthetic material made from chemicals extracted during petroleum refinement. This makes foam carbon intensive and fossil fuel dependent. Also foam does not biodegrade and it is very difficult to recycle. In contrast cork does biodegrade and is easy to grind up and recycle. In short cork is environmentally friendly and foam is not.

When you realize what an excellent job cork underlayment does and how earth friendly it is, it becomes apparent that is a much better choice as a subsurface than foam.