Not All Underlayments with Cork Are the Same

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is, “What is the difference between Eco Cork Foam Underlayment and traditional cork underlayment?” It is a good question, and one we can easily answer by saying that Eco Cork Foam (ECF) is superior in many ways. We could list all 10-in-1 features and call it a day. But we’re a science and engineering company, so we felt that some facts were in order. In test after test, ECF has outperformed the competition. Why should this question be any different?

Recently, we decided to outline the differences between ECF and traditional cork underlayment. Here is what we found.

First, let’s compare the product construction and its impact on value. ECF is engineered using a proprietary blend of polyethylene foam and granulated cork and is 1/8” thick.  In addition to the foam and cork material, a 6-mil vapor barrier is laminated across the entire face of the underlayment, making ECF the only underlayment of its kind available in the marketplace. With the included vapor barrier, ECF cuts down on overall product and labor costs, as well as labor hassles. As an added bonus, ECF also comes with peel-and-stick tape, which is used for concrete subfloor applications. Traditional cork underlayment ranges between 1/4” and 1/8” thick and does not include a vapor barrier or a taping system for concrete subfloors. Customers who use traditional cork are required to purchase additional materials, increasing overall costs and installation steps.

While most cork products are manufactured outside of the U.S., ECF is proudly manufactured in America in Louisburg, NC. ECF is made from non-toxic polyethylene and FSC-certified cork. ECF is also free of Proposition 65 chemicals, unlike many traditional cork underlayments which use urethane-based adhesives to hold the cork together. Not only is it free of harmful chemicals, but ECF is also infused with an EPA-approved antimicrobial treatment which inhibits the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. This makes ECF a safer, more eco-friendly and family-friendly choice.

Sound absorption is another key feature that we looked at. When you consider that Eco Cork Foam is a blend of cork and foam, while traditional cork underlayment is primarily cork with adhesives, it’s easy to understand the audible advantage that ECF with foam offers. Its superior sound absorption has the following ratings: Impact Insulation Class (IIC) rating of 73 decibels, a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of 67 decibels and a Delta IIC of 23 decibels.

Up to this point, the comparisons have been fairly symmetrical, but where cork fails to keep up is in the many added features and benefits that are built into every roll of ECF. Consider the strength-to-weight performance of ECF, which has a compression strength of 17,600 lbs. at 80% pressure, providing a stable foundation that provides even weight distribution yet is surprisingly lightweight. Consider the workability of ECF, which cuts easily yet resists tearing. Traditional cork products are hard to work with and break apart or crumble easily.

Indeed, all cork underlayment is not the same. Besides the fact that they all contain cork, the similarities are quite few. Beyond the cork, each roll of ECF contains such advanced technology that its performance puts it in a category all its own. If you’re considering cork for your next flooring project, it’s time you consider Eco Cork Foam.


About Us

Eco Cork Foam Underlayment is manufactured in North Carolina by Palziv, North America. Palziv brings together world-class science and engineering to deliver innovative products, materials and services for the construction, building, automotive, recreational, medical and packaging industries. Every day, we strive to grow our community, working with others to seek sustainable, innovative, market-driven solutions that promote better, safer, and healthier lifestyles and protect the environment for generations to come.