Bamboo flooring has been around for decades and over the years has been both in and out of style. Although bamboo flooring is called a hardwood by consumers and professionals in reality it isn’t a wood and often it isn't even a hard surface. However it is durable and an excellent flooring material for almost any home.
When being made into a flooring material bamboo grass strands are shredded into smaller pieces and are compressed into a composite board like structure. Which is why all bamboo flooring products are engineered.
Let’s take a look at a few key decision making factors for homeowners when selecting a floor and see if Bamboo is right for you.
This is a tricky topic when it comes to bamboo. Many professionals will recommend bamboo swearing it is one of the most durable flooring options available. Yet others will recommend never purchasing bamboo as it will wear easily and damage. So which one is it?
In order to answer this question and settle the debate we need to take a look at the different types of bamboo flooring types.
Traditional Bamboo is the most common type of bamboo floor. The bamboo is shredded into thin strips and either laid vertically or horizontally and glued together. A simple construction that has been used since the first time bamboo was introduced as a flooring option.
This type of bamboo is generally durable and will hold up almost as well as traditional hardwood but you can never be sure of the quality. In order for optimal quality bamboo must be harvested at the correct time and must come from a reputable manufacturer. Many manufacturers use a weak/cheap adhesive that won’t hold the bamboo strands as well causing premature wear and breakage.
Traditional Bamboo is generally a safe choice as long as you are careful only to purchase from reputable locations and from manufacturers that are known for quality material.
Strand Woven Bamboo is a newer type of construction. In this process the bamboo strips are shredded up into tiny pieces to expose the stringy fiber. Adhesive is added and the bamboo shreds are pressed together under pressure. This process creates a dense bamboo product that ends up being a lot more durable than traditional bamboo floor planks.
Unfurled Bamboo is by far the most durable bamboo flooring type if not the most durable wood flooring material period. This construction is achieved by cutting a thin single slit around a bamboo stalk that is spread out and pressed onto a composite sheet. Since the outer layer of the bamboo is actually the most durable part of the bamboo stalk it achieves the most wear resistant effect. Unfurled bamboo is so durable that it doesn’t even require a finish but will remain extremely durable even as is (however a finish is recommended for the sake of protection from moisture).
In terms of durability, bamboo is probably the most durable flooring option but only if it is Unfurled or at least Strand Woven. Since the majority of Bamboo on the market is traditional bamboo homeowners are disappointed when they find out their bamboo product wasn't produced well and begins to deteriorate early.
Words of caution: even if you do select a higher end bamboo product there is no guarantee that it will perform well against daily wear and tear. Some products are more resistant to damage than others but no natural material is perfect. Even the strongest material will scratch, dent, fade, and wear with improper care. The only way to ensure long lasting floors is diligent upkeep and care.
Bamboo is considered a sustainable material since it isn’t a wood altogether but rather a grass. It grows much faster than any other material yet lasts for as long as 30 years as a flooring material. A bamboo forest can be replenished in as little as 3-5 years while any other wood will take decades. When done correctly bamboo harvesting is actually beneficial to the environment the surrounding plants and younger bamboo stalks.
However since most bamboo products are produced overseas it is difficult to ensure clean and environmentally conscious production methods. Manufacturers often use adhesives that are harmful containing toxic VOCs. Factoring in the large shipping cost associated with transporting the material across the world also increases the footprint left on the environment. Which is why it is important to purchase only from reputable manufacturers and do your research before making a purchase.
Although bamboo is limited in the available color and style options compared to that of a solid wood it still looks beautiful and contemporary. If you are seeking a modern & clean look bamboo is a great fit. The largest variation and selection that you have when selecting bamboo is found between the different types of bamboo flooring: traditional, strand woven, & unfurled. Each one has a distinct look and each type has a variety of stain shades available as well. The selection isn't as vast as an oak product would be but nonetheless you have options to choose from.
Compared to other flooring surfaces bamboo is easy to maintain and clean. However it is important to note that bamboo is more susceptible to water damage than other wood floors. Bamboo absorbs water, humidity, and any moisture really quick. Which is why it is crucial that your bamboo have a protective finish on the surface.
Besides the moisture issue bamboo is easy to clean… simply vacuum dirt and dust particles up every few days and polish the surface every year or so and you will have a floor that lasts for many years.
Price wise bamboo is basically the same cost as any other solid or engineered hardwood flooring material. It can be found for as little as $5 a square foot for traditional plank bamboo and up to $10 a square foot for higher quality unfurled bamboo.
Either way if you are in the market for a new floor and you have been considering a hardwood floor we suggest that you look into some bamboo options.
Especially if you have pets or children and are looking for maximum durability. The modern and clean look of bamboo will work in almost any home and is guaranteed to withstand daily wear and tear.
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