ThermaCork: Seven Reasons Why We Love This Durable, Sustainable Building Material

Small Planet Supply has been importing and selling ThermaCork expanded cork since 2012. While we’ve been sold on the outstanding qualities of cork for years, we may not have been as great at communicating to others why we think it is one of the best building materials on the market today. So, in honor of seven years of ThermaCork, we’re going to share seven reasons why we love ThermaCork.

Reason #1: ThermaCork is 100% Natural

Expanded Cork being made in Portugal - Just two Ingredients - Cork and Steam

Expanded Cork being made in Portugal - Just two Ingredients - Cork and Steam

ThermaCork has two ingredients: cork and water (steam). ThermaCork is made from cork granules which are steam-heated, causing it to expand. Steaming also activates suberin (a natural binder) which causes the cork granules to stick together creating the solid cork blocks. You can see more at the Manufacturing page of ThermaCork’s website.

Reason #2: Cork is a Carbon Negative Building Material

Cork trees sink and sequester carbon as they grow. There is a pretty cool video explanation about how ThermaCork calculates its carbon-negative status at ThermaCork’s, “Why Use ThermaCork” page.

Reason #3: ThermaCork is Sustainable

Cork is harvested from the cork oak tree every nine years. Skilled cork harvesters split off the bark of the tree without damaging the rest of the tree. In fact, cork tree harvesting actually improves the tree’s health and vigor.

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Reason #4: ThermaCork Has Multiple Products for Multiple Applications

ThermaCork has four types of products that are useful to the design/building community:

  • ThermaCork Insulation Cork

  • Thermacork Facade Insulation Cork(exterior insulation which also serves as the building facade)

  • ThermaCork Decorative Cork

  • ThermaCork High-Density Anti-Vibration Cork (prevents the spread of vibration over a given surface to be transmitted to the contiguous space)

Reason #5: Cork Has Been Used to Insulate Throughout History

The ancient Romans used to put cork in their shoes to keep their feet warm, and to insulate their roofs. In the Middle Ages, monks in Spain and Portugal sheathed the inner side of the walls in their monasteries with cork. In the USA, cork was used as insulation in ice houses, ice and cold storage plants, household refrigerators, and even houses themselves (as you can see in the advertisements to the right).

Reason #6: ThermaCork Can Be Used for So Many Things

While we knew that there were a lot of uses for ThermaCork for building interiors and exteriors, we were pleasantly surprised by the other uses people came up with for our product:

Reason #7: It’s Just So Darn Beautiful

We fell in love with ThermaCork’s simplicity, warmth and beauty. The slide-show below has some of our favorite projects and there are some resources below for you to continue your own exploration of cork.

Resources to learn more about expanded cork

More about ThermaCork:
Thermacork website
Small Planet Supply
Amorim (Cork Manufacturer)

More about uses of cork in the early 20th century:
Book on Cork Insulation from the North Eastern University Library.

Recent Articles Featuring Cork:
”Wine Be Damned, Cork Is For Building”, Journal of the American Institute of Architects.
"The Perfect House for a Bouyant Market! Home made from cork, a council estate and an opera theatre are in the running to be UK's best new building. Daily Mail - 7/18/19
"Durable, Adaptable Cork", NY Times - 4/26/2019