A cork board is a framed section of cork backed with wood or plastic. Typically, it is used as a bulletin board, because the resilient nature of cork makes it ideal for sticking pins and tacks into. These boards can come in a wide variety of sizes, and they are very useful for schools, hospitals, and other environments where information needs to be posted for everyone to see.
Cork is the product of the cork oak tree, found widespread in the Mediterranean. A large proportion of the world's cork comes from Portugal, which hosts approximately 30% of the world's cork trees and supplies around 50% of the world's cork. The bark is actually an accumulation of dead tissue which can be stripped safely from a cork oak once every nine years or so. The cork is removed in whole sheets for processing, and the tree is left to grow in peace until another batch of cork is ready. Cork is a sustainable tree product, because the trees are left alive after harvesting.
Cork is a unique tree material. It has a honeycomb-like structure, which makes it very easy to compress, hence the use of cork to stopper wine bottles. It is also extremely strong and resistant to wear, and cork is often used in flooring for this reason. In addition, it is fire resistant, so some kitchens use cork counters, hotplates, or pot grabbers. Cork tends to be pale in color, and its light color and strength make it a good choice for bulletin boards.
Unlike wood, cork will spring back after being penetrated with a pin. The structure of the cork will break down eventually, making it impossible to stick more pins in, but a cork board can be used many more times than a bulletin board made from wood. To make a cork board, cork is glued to a strong backing of wood or plastic which prevents the pins from penetrating beyond the board, and a frame around the edges holds the cork in place along the sides.
A cork board is sometimes combined with a white board, so that notices and papers can be pinned to the cork and messages can be written on the white board. The board can be quite large, and some firms actually specialize in making very large sheets of cork designed to be applied to huge sections of wall. Another use for a cork board is as a mobile document stand which allows users to rearrange the documents on the board as they talk about them.