Decorating Gallery 3.24 Pine Mantel. This mantel is made of shaped solid pine wood at the top and bottom with MDF for the flat vertical surface between. This is a common construction method for architectural trim that will be painted.
Medium-density fiberboard is made of small wood particles or fibers combined with resin under pressure and heated to produce a hard and smooth surface. It has many advantages over particleboard. The most important difference between MDF and particleboard OSB is that MDF is denser and has a very smooth surface. Medium-density fiberboard is made of very small wood fibers that produce a smooth surface that is very good for painting. It does not have a grain direction, so it can be cut into any shape, drilled, or even dowelled with traditional woodwork joints. Medium-density fiberboard is a stable product that does not absorb moisture, warp, shrink, or expand, thus making it better than real wood for any application where wood will be painted. The major disadvantage of MDF is in cutting it. When it is cut, MDF releases particles of formaldehyde into the air. Formaldehyde comes from the resins used to bind the small fibers together. Formaldehyde can cause irritation to lungs and eyes, so a facemask should be worn when cutting or sanding MFD. Another disadvantage of MDF is that traditional nails will not hold as well as in wood, causing alternate fasteners to be used.
Cork is a product from the bark of the Cork Oak tree that grows in Portugal, Spain, and northwest Africa. It has been part of the culture of the Mediterranean region for centuries, where there are large Cork Oak forests producing mature cork. Cork cannot be harvested until the tree is more than 25 years old with a 24-inch circumference. Immature bark would be brittle, show a darker color, and lack the thermal and acoustic values that cork is known for. Bark is removed from the trees every 9 years, with no damage to trees. This allows the tree to continue growing and producing bark again, making cork harvesting a sustainable practice, since Cork Oak trees can live up to 250 years. In harvesting cork, chemicals are not normally used, making cork a green product. A Cork Oak tree that has its bark removed every 9 years will absorb three to five times as much carbon dioxide than a similar tree with bark intact. Storing carbon is a sustainable quality.
Cork consists of microscopic pockets of air encapsulated by the cork fiber lignin. This cellular structure gives cork tremendous thermal and acoustic properties. Cork is often used for interior surface covering for its sound absorbing quality and thermal insulation value. The sound-deadening qualities work for both absorbing impact sound and preventing sound transmission between rooms. Cork also has natural fire resistance qualities.
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Additionally, cork can be used for flooring in either tiles or planks. Cork tiles used in the 1940s and 1950s were made from shredded cork that was compressed into a block, then sliced into tiles. Tiles of compressed cork looked granular and bland. There was no distinction in color or pattern, which resulted in a homogeneous appearance. Today, tiles are made of cork veneer that can have various colors and patterns designed into it. The veneer is mounted onto a conglomerate cork backing, and the tiles remain 100 percent cork. Tiles are soft and thin, so when they are glued to the floor, they show any texture or unevenness below them.
Tile planks have cork on the top and bottom, with MDF sandwiched between. This construction makes them thicker and they are attached to each other instead of the floor. This eliminates the possibility of a texture showing through the cork, but it adds the risk of water damage. The MDF core is susceptible to moisture and will not return to its original shape if it absorbs moisture or water. Cork planks made in Portugal are considered low VOC. Planks from other countries might use a high VOC for the MDF core. A downside of using cork for flooring is that cork is soft and impressions are retained in its surface temporarily. However, cork consists of microscopic air pockets, allowing it to return to its shape. This is known as impact memory. Cork floor installation Cork tiles are installed by the glue-down method. The tiles are soft and thin, making an absolutely smooth surface imperative. Contact cement is used to make a good contact with the subfloor and to prevent edges from curling up. The tiles need to have weight applied with a roller to ensure there are no air pockets under the tiles. Installation of cork planks is done by using the floating method. The planks are attached to each other, not the floor, with a slight gap at the perimeter of the room. The plank floor becomes a unit that can shrink and swell with humidity changes, and needs V2-inch space to expand. It is important to keep water away from the cork planks due to their MDF core that is susceptible to water damage. Linoleum Linoleum was developed in 1860 and widely used until the 1950s as a floor covering. The backing was fabric, either cotton canvas or jute, and the top was printed with a colored design. It withstood foot traffic well and was used in places that needed a durable surface, such as corridors. The design printed on the top wore off due to lots of foot traffic. A process of making a pattern with colors going all the way through the material was developed, called inlaid design. To make the inlaid pattern, a metal stencil of the pattern was laid on the backing and colored granules of linoleum were placed in between the metal outlines. As the sheets of linoleum were heated, the color granules fused to the backing. The advantage of inlaid color is that the pattern does not wear off. Linoleum was used on the decks of battleships until the attack on Pearl Harbor revealed how flammable it was. Linoleum was known for use in kitchens because it was easy to clean with water. Although linoleum has mainly been replaced by the use of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) flooring, it is still used in places that need nonallergenic finishes and sanitary conditions. Currently, linoleum is produced under the trademarked name of Marmoleum by Forbo and the trademark name of Harmonium by Johnsonite. Linoleum is a renewable product, made of organic products, mostly wood products. It is considered renewable because the natural raw materials are available in abundance. These are linseed oil, pine rosin, ground cork dust, wood flour, and mineral fillers. Linseed oil comes from the seeds of the flax plant. Rosin from pine trees is the binding agent in linoleum. Oxidized linseed oil and rosin are combined to form linoleum granules and give strength and flexibility. Wood flour, sawdust from hardwood trees, is used to bind mineral color pigments to the linoleum. For several reasons, linoleum is used in health-care facilities. Linoleum contains no toxic materials. It is naturally antistatic and resists indentations. It also meets ASTM and NFPA criteria for smoke development and critical radiant flux with a Class I rating. Linoleum is not affected by blood or other body fluids and can be cleaned with most chemicals, although some chemicals, such as ammonia and sodium hydroxide, will cause linoleum to soften. Linoleum is available in tiles or very wide rolls, approximately 80 inches wide. This allows it to be easily installed in commercial spaces. Seams, if any, can be heat welded, yielding a homogenous flooring finish, which is necessary in places that cannot have bacterial growth.The backing may be jute and the installation can be done with low VOC adhesives.The life span for linoleum is about 25 to 40 years. When the life of a linoleum floor covering is over, it can be burned in an energy-recycling incineration plant or safely added to landfill refuse sites to decompose. Recommended maintenance is to sweep and vacuum dust and dirt. Water and chemicals can be used when necessary.