You’re about to do some remodeling, and you want to rip up that old carpet and put down hardwood. So, you head to the Internet. Problem: laying down hardwood isn’t as intuitive as you thought, and you soon find yourself overwhelmed by the plethora of choices in front of you. Should you choose a traditional hardwood floor or a bamboo one?
What Is Bamboo Flooring?
Bamboo flooring is sometimes lumped into the same category as “hardwood,”but it’s actually a fast-growing tree-like grass. Yep, a grass. It renews itself every four years, which is why it’s so marketable as a “sustainable”flooring choice.
It’s used extensively in East Asia but it’s also growing in popularity in North America and Europe. Traditional bamboo flowing is constructed by cutting the stems as thinly as possible and then laying them flat against wooden beams. It’s not the greatest fit and finish as you can see between each stem, making it a sort of “cobbled together”kind of flooring. If you live in warm climates, in huts, some flooring is better than no flooring though.
Fortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t accept this level of quality and manufacturers have upped their game a bit by processing it. To manufacture the kind of stuff you’re likely to see in the store, or on the Internet, the manufacturer slices the bamboo into strips, gives it a boric acid or lime bath, and then planes the dry strips. The last step in the process is to laminate whatever is usable from the bath.
Why Do People Choose It?
Most people who choose bamboo do so because it acts similar to wood flooring. But, there are other benefits too. Bamboo takes just 5 years to grow, compared to hardwood flooring which takes 50 years to manufacture – mostly due to the fact that it takes hard woods 50 years to mature.
Bamboo also has natural antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties baked into the stem. The only catch is that the process for manufacturing the flooring is intense. The glues used can also be quite toxic.
What Types Of Flooring Are There?
Bamboo flooring can be made using either a horizontal cut, a solid construction, or strand weaving. Strand weaving is done by literally shredding the bamboo and then reassembling it using adhesives. It looks the least like bamboo flooring and it’s the most durable.
Solid bamboo flooring is manufactured by gluing pieces of bamboo together to form a solid floor. Finally, horizontal cut bamboo, also called “engineered bamboo,”is made by gluing the bamboo over a substrate. This is also the most recognizable flooring since it ends up looking like bamboo strips that have been cut flat and laid down on the floor.
What Finishes Can You Buy?
When bamboo flooring is made, it’s finished at the factory. You cannot paint or stain it, or refinish it. You get what you get. Early flooring only came in a few finishes, but today’s flooring can be purchased in blonde, caramel, black, stained, and even pale white.
There are even flooring options that make the bamboo look and feel just like old-school timber flooring. Flooring company Bamboozle talks about difference between timber flooring and bamboo – noting that many of the modern bamboo flooring is 70 percent harder than flooring made just 10 years ago.
Yeah, But How Durable Is It?
Durability is always a concern. And, truth be told, you get what you pay for. Woven bamboo flooring tends to be the most durable. Engineered floors tend to be the least.
How Much Does It Cost?
On average, expect to pay roughly $4 to $8 per sq ft, installed. When you compare this to $8 to $9 for hardwood, the savings really add up.
Mark Hutchison is passionate about sustainable and practical flooring. As the Managing Director of Bamboozle, he enjoys talking about the great uses and beauty of bamboo flooring.