Extremadura (Spain) it is one of the main regions rich in natural resources; one of them is the Extremadura’s Grassland, particularly the cork oak. Cork is the crust of the oaks (Quercus suber) that protects them from extreme conditions such as lack of water, high temperatures and even fires. It is constituted by dead cells which fill up of a gas similar to air. That gas constitutes almost 90% of the cork, hence its light weight and its compressible nature. The walls of these cells, which are minuscule compartments, are constituted by suberine and cerine, substances that make it fireproof, flexible and practically rot-proof. So cork is an extraordinary material, with unique properties. It is a completely natural product, renewable and biodegradable. That is why that its production does not produce pollution or damage to the ecosystem from where it is extracted, since it is obtained by removing the crust of the oak, without cutting any tree. That “harvest” is done every 9 to 12 years.
There is no natural or artificial material that reunites the following characteristics all in one: light weight, elasticity, compressible nature, impermeability, non-conductive, acoustic absorbent, high friction coefficient and durability.
And as proof of the reborn cork vitality in sectors such as construction, in Europe there are prefabricated construction elements, specifically designed for the use of cork. As an example, we can cite the element AUSTRIACTO THERMOTON, which with one sole piece allows for the construction of walls, with a thermal resistance far more superior than the one required by regular norms.
The choice of cork as a main material in the collection of cork furniture was based in the following aspects:
- Light weight: the amount of inside air and the light weight related to the walls of the cells, allows for a specific weight of between 0.12 and 0.25. This leads to a reduction in weight favoring its mobility.
- Impermeability: in the field of construction, it allows to conserve unaltered the insulation properties of the pure expanded agglomerate.
- Durability: Cork it is found, naturally, exposed during hundreds of years, to all the environmental conditions that the oak is exposed to, protecting it without suffering any damage.
- Absence of toxicity or other dangerous substances for our health since it is a 100% natural material.
- Fire retardant: cork products can be found within the classification M-2 (Hardly flammable fuel). For example, wood it is generally classified as M-3, and it reaches M-2 by being treated.
- Elasticity: thanks to the resistance of the cellular walls and its impermeability to liquids and gases, a cork probe of 1 cubic inch can hold a weight of 6350 Kg. Without braking and recovering 90% of its natural height.
- Compressible Nature: capability to be compressed without lateral dilatation (very useful with expansion joints).
- Thermal Insulating: the best insulation is emptiness, followed by dry mobile air. Cork posses cells filled with a gas similar to air, without circulation or renovation, that along with its low humidity absorption abilities, complies with the requirements of an insulator of unmatched quality.
- Acoustic absorbent and vibrating: it plays a fundamental role in the edification’s comfort.
- High friction coefficient: when cut, it possess a surprisingly high friction coefficient.