Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons – Facts
Reviews on bamboo flooring, generally speaking, are in favor of the product. Bamboo has gained a reputation as an eco-friendly and highly renewable source of the material.
Bamboo is classified as a grass and it is the fastest growing plant on Earth. There are many species of bamboo with the primary species used in manufacturing flooring and plywood being Moso bamboo.
The Moso bamboo can grow an amazing 47 inches in 24 hours and grow to a height of 78.5 feet in about 40 to 50 days. It takes only about three to five years to mature versus the 20 to 120 years it takes hardwood to mature.
Reviewers further favor bamboo because once the bamboo is harvested there is no need to replant. The bamboo roots sprout new shoots the following rainy season.
In addition, unlike traditional hardwoods that are harvested after 40 to 60 or even more years, bamboo can be harvested 3 to 5 years. Furthermore, the root structure has the ability to hold the soil in place preventing soil erosion.
Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons
Floors made of bamboo offers a large variety of designs ranging from vertical bamboo, horizontal bamboo, carbonized bamboo, and natural and scraped bamboo. Reviewers are in favor of floors this type of flooring because it is extremely environmentally friendly.
Bamboo is a perfect solution to the problem of conserving trees and forests. More and more people are opting for floors made from bamboo because of its visual appeal. It is on a par or may even be better than hardwood when it comes to looks and appearance.
It adds a warm and homey feel to a room and is very pleasant to look at. Bamboo plants are like dwarfs when compared to the massive hardwood trees, but looks can be deceiving as it is in the case of bamboo.
Floors made of bamboo can be equally strong, if not stronger than hardwood flooring. Bamboo is water and moisture resistant and is an ideal flooring option for kitchens and dining rooms.
However, one should take care not to leave water lying on the floor for a prolonged period of time. If water seeps into the floor, both bamboo and hardwood floor will swell and weaken.
Reviewers, however, also point out a few of the less desirable characteristics. The floor is prone to scratches and discoloration. Direct exposure to the sun may cause discoloration on the floor surface but this is not limited to only to floors made of bamboo.
GUIDELINES FOR SELECTING BAMBOO FLOORING
There are many reasons why some bamboo hardwood flooring is softer than others. Bamboo flooring should be made from the Moso species to achieve optimum hardness and the bamboo must be at least five years old before harvesting.
Do not settle for anything less. Ultimate hardness is archived when seven years old bamboo is harvested. There are some manufacturing processes that make the flooring softer. One such process is called Carbonization.
It refers to a heating process that changes the bamboo to an amber color. This also will lower its Janka rating. The Janka rating is an internationally accepted rating scale for hardness in flooring. Bamboo flooring will scratch because the bonding material between the bamboo fibers is less strong than lignans in old wood.
Traditional bamboo floors Janka rating is from 1,300 to 1,600 Pounds-Pressure on the Janka rating. For durable long-lasting floors, woven strand bamboo with aluminum oxide multi-layer finish is recommended for a higher rating.
For example, Premium Green, Morning Star’s strand bamboo and Build Direct’s Yanchi brand offer strand bamboo with a 3,000 Janka rating.
It cost more than lesser quality flooring but a wise man always pays first; he knows paying later costs a lot more money. If you go with prime products like those listed above you need not worry.
Natural bamboo is light in color. If you want a more durable flooring and like a light color floor, choose the lightest color bamboo.
Natural bamboo floors come in planks.
You can install the planks by nailing or gluing them. If you like natural bamboo but wish to have a darker color then choose stained bamboo.
To achieve darker colors the natural bamboo planks are stained with different colors so you can get the strength of natural bamboo and the color of your choice.
Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons
You can see many fine or thick lines on these floors. In the horizontal grain bamboo, you can see fine long lines in the vertical grain bamboo you will see interesting small little stripes.
Friends, In the horizontal patterns, flat layers of planks are placed on each other and glued together. In the vertical pattern, long thick planks are glued to each other in one layer, enhancing the fine nodes of the wood.
One of the benefits of solid bamboo floors is that they are stronger than red oak and less expensive than most other hardwood floors.
This type of flooring can also be floated on a sub-floor. There are many types of floors for you to choose from. Take the time to research the one most suitable for your needs.
Do your research before you decide to purchase your bamboo or hardwood flooring. Look for established brands to make sure your flooring is genuine, meets quality standards, and follows all of the environmental guidelines.
Most of the bamboo floors are produced in countries that don’t have many regulations for manufacturers to follow. Visual imperfections, contraction, and extension are some of the issues you may have to contend with if you buy low-quality flooring.
I am adding some of the well-known brands to the names I have above. You may pay a little more for higher quality but you will save yourself a lot of headaches and enjoy a beautiful worry-free floor for years to come.
The more trusted names for your list are Eco timber, Stepco, and Teragen. High-quality bamboo floors installed and cared for properly will last a lifetime.
- A fast-renewing resource, bamboo is ready to harvest in 5 to 6 years, about one-tenth the time it takes red oak to mature. New stalks regrow from the same plant.
- Generally less expensive than a common hardwood by about $1 per square foot, and even cheaper in comparison with an exotic species.
- Extremely durable, a quality bamboo floor can last decades with care and minimal exposure to grit, high heels, and pets’ nails.
- It can scratch, even with a factory finish, just as wood does; use doormats inside and protective pads with furniture.
- All bamboo is not the same, and it can be hard to sort through the quality claims. Plus, the different types (see below) make apples-to-apples comparisons a challenge.
- Off-gassing can occur with lesser-quality flooring made with adhesives containing urea-formaldehyde.
How “Green” Is Bamboo Flooring Anyway?
In recent years there has been a huge emphasis on environmentally friendly public policy. In the construction industry, this trend is manifested in many areas not the least of which is the huge increase in the use of bamboo flooring products.
Within the construction industry, there are programs in place which reward builders with credits towards their “green builders” certificate for incorporating bamboo products in their building projects.
Bamboo flooring has been heralded as a prime green building material by the U.S. Green Building Council. Bamboo flooring has also become the darling of interior designers and architects eager to put the environmentally-conscious “green” stamp on their work.
The average homeowner looking for replacement flooring is just as willing to do their part for the environment while at the same time bringing that “nouveau chic” look to their home. After all, what could be cooler than a Prius in their garage and bamboo on their floor?
One doesn’t have to dig very deep to see that bamboo flooring has been vigorously embraced by the green movement without any serious attempts to determine its net environmental impact after consideration of all contributing factors. And what are the factors which determine the total environmental impact of a flooring material anyway?
- Is it durable?
- Can it be refinished?
- is it recyclable?
- is it toxic?
Before delving into the individual factors which should be considered in the process of determining the net environmental benefits let’s first look at what caused bamboo flooring to explode on the scene in the first place.
Read Also; How to Build a Deck
Bamboo is typically considered as a replacement for traditional wood flooring products. Hardwood flooring products such as Oak, Maple, or the more exotic and expensive woods require a very long growth cycle and the harvesting process, if not managed responsibly, can be devastating to the local environment.
By now we have all seen the images of clear-cut de-forestation in various rainforests such as Brazil or the Philippines to produce Teak or Mahogany as if there was no tomorrow.
Although this is the worst-case representation of the problems associated with hardwood forestry the problem of the time necessary to replace hardwood trees requires considerable management.
Fortunately, these issues have become a much higher priority to hardwood producers throughout the world, and more responsible methods and practices such as selective thinning and carefully managed harvesting cycles are now employed, and clear-cut de-forestation has been all but eliminated.
To a lesser degree, the same problem exists with regard to soft wood flooring products such as Pine and Fir. The time necessary for softwood trees to reach maturity, although less than hardwood, is still a major consideration.
This is the major advantage of Bamboo! Bamboo is not a tree. It is grass, and being grass it takes much less time to grow to maturity. Bamboo reaches full maturity and maximum hardness in 5-7 years as opposed to various hardwoods which require 15-25 years depending on the species.
The most important factor overall when considering a flooring material is durability. After all, if you are replacing your flooring prematurely because your flooring wore out you’re not helping the environment no matter what material you choose.
Bamboo Flooring Design
As we have noted earlier, adopting a bamboo flooring design will improve the aesthetic state of your interior design. The appearance and feel are close to that of the hardwood; however, the uniqueness is clear. If you are all about making your space distinct while making a strong statement with a renewable material, go for bamboo flooring. It is compatible with almost all home styles, but most compatible with contemporary styles.
Bamboo Flooring Products
The installation process of the solid bamboo is similar to that of the solid hardwood. You can choose to glue the planks down over a concrete floor. Alternatively, you can blind-nail the tongue-and-groove boards to the subfloor via the board edge. Either way, you need the help of a professional to achieve these.
The thinner variants of solid bamboo are more suited for floating floor installation. The first option is to use a tweaked tongue-and-groove system, called the “click-lock.” Here, the boards’ edges interlock mechanically. The second option is to adopt the normal tongue-and-groove design, which requires gluing the edges of the boards together.
Friends, In either case, you end up with a floor resting over a thin layer of foam underlayment. In this case, the subfloor is not fitted with any permanent attachment. In addition to the simplicity of this installation method, it allows for easy expansion of the flooring in situations of a drop or rise in humidity levels.
The only compatible installation method is the click-lock floating method, considering the manufacturing process of the engineered bamboo (surface veneer bonded to an MDF core or plywood). You can do the installation by yourself.
The chances are that your bamboo flooring product will come with finishing from the factory. However, if it does not, you must seal it with a urethane product after installing, or stain before sealing (in the case of raw bamboo planks).
Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons
Perhaps you have heard the claim that bamboo flooring is as hard as some of the hardest of hardwoods. In one respect this is true but in actual application, bamboo flooring is much more vulnerable to wear.
Stranded/woven bamboo has a Janka hardness test rating of 3000. When compared to other common flooring choices such as White Oak which has a Janka hardness test rating of 1360 it appears that bamboo is an obvious choice and would wear much better than oak for example.
The Janka hardness test may not be the best determiner of real-world flooring wear, however. The test is performed by measuring the amount of force required to push a steel ball slightly larger than 3/8″ halfway into the material being tested.
While the fibrous structure of bamboo is a perfect match for resisting a round ball it is more vulnerable to more common types of flooring wear such as high heels, children’s toys, or objects with any sharpness.
In these instances, the bamboo fibers tend to separate making the surrounding area very susceptible to further wear. Under these circumstances, woods with their more uniform structure perform better in spite of their lower Janka rating.
Even if you assume bamboo is as durable as hardwood flooring products, the fact that you cannot re-finish bamboo flooring is perhaps its biggest drawback. Most flooring materials are susceptible to normal wear and tear.
One of the principal advantages of hardwood plank is the ability to be sanded and re-finished. Unfortunately bamboo does share this advantage. Bamboo blank is made if several strips of bamboo laminated together as bamboo is not bulky enough to obtain individual planks.
Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons
The glue used in the manufacturing process contains formaldehyde which releases noxious fumes in the sanding process. If you can get past the dangerous fumes from the sanding process, once sanded, the fibers in the bamboo tend to separate and individual fibers stick up out of the base material no matter how fine grit you use.
The fact that bamboo cannot be readily re-finished also means that it is not recyclable. Again one of the advantages of hardwood is that it can be re-used. There is a huge segment of the flooring industry that employs recycled wood flooring exclusively.
In fact, many people are employing recycled wood flooring in their building projects for a number of reasons. Many designers value the patina of aged woods which over many years of wear take on a character not achievable with a block of new wood or hand-distressed floor.
Others choose recycled wood flooring because it is truly environmentally conscious. In many cases, the wood being recycled is over 100 years old.
There are no present-day trees being harvested to provide this material and there is the added benefit of using materials that would otherwise wind up in landfills.
Not only is flooring wood being recycled for flooring but old barn siding and other recycled wood are finding their way to floors these days.
So what are the net ecological advantages of bamboo flooring?
To assume that bamboo flooring is eco-friendly simply because it is a rapidly renewable resource overlooks many important factors.
Although bamboo fully matures and hardens within 7 years, most bamboo companies add chemical fertilizers and pesticides to hasten the growth cycle, which can harm the environment, harvesting bamboo in as little as 3 months, long before it reaches optimal hardness.
Unlike wood flooring, many toxic chemicals are employed in the manufacture of bamboo flooring. These chemicals can be harmful both to the environment and in your own home.
In addition, as the bamboo flooring industry is based in China and south-east Asia, the final product must be shipped to markets halfway across the world which consumes a lot of fuel and extra carbon emissions.
And most importantly, as bamboo flooring is highly vulnerable to scratches and dents and virtually impossible to sand and re-finish its lifespan is unimpressive.
Your bamboo flooring will more than likely require replacement prior to other flooring materials and those toxic chemicals will end up in landfills.
In the end, bamboo is indeed a rapidly renewable resource, but poor management and manufacturing practices and a low-quality product coupled with the recently increased responsible harvesting practices in the hardwood industry outweigh this advantage.
Features of the Bamboo
The primary reason the latter is used as an option in hardwood flooring is the similarities in the physical features of both wood and bamboo. Another reason is the fast growth rate of bamboo. The strong points of the bamboo include durability, eco-friendly nature, water and insect resistance, and strength.
For instance, traditional bamboo flooring can be as hard as 1180 and 1380 for carbonized horizontal and natural variants, respectively. In the case of synthetic strand and woven bamboo flooring, the range is 3000 to over 5000 (results from Janka hardness test). Comparatively, the ratings of other flooring materials include 2350 – Brazilian cherry; 1820 – Hickory; 1450 – Rock Maple; 1360 – White Oak; and 1290 – Red Oak.
There are different variants of bamboo flooring – each with a distinct manufacturing process. What determines the manufacturing process is usually the local preferences, and sometimes, the economic viability. Either way, the processing North American variant of bamboo flooring is more pronounced.
Once the bamboo poles or culms are sliced into strips, they are crosscut to length before going through another slicing. The outer skin and nodes of the resulting strips are removed. After this, they (the strips) are boiled in a boric acid (or lime) solution to get rid of the sugars and starch. The last stage involves drying and plaining the strips.
The color of the natural bamboo is close to that of the beech wood. To achieve a darker color, for instance, the oak’s color, the bamboo is subjected to carbonization – steaming under monitored heat and pressure. What this does is to reduce the final hardness to the non-carbonized bamboo’s hardness range. But in some cases, it could be softer than the pines or the common red oak.
Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons – Facts 2021
Bamboo has recently come on the scene as an outstanding option for lots of home building options, including flooring.
For many people looking to “go green” bamboo is a great flooring alternative, but it’s not for everyone. Continue reading if you think if this flooring option may be right for you.
Bamboo Flooring – The Pros
Bamboo is very renewable. There are a number of varieties that can grow up to a foot a day. At that growth rate, you can understand why bamboo is considered rapidly renewable, especially when compared to typical hardwood trees that can take up to 120 years to attain maturity.
Many people do not realize how strong bamboo really is. It is ordinarily harder than many hardwoods used for flooring purposes.
In fact, some species of bamboo have hardness ratings approximately double that of red oak, and bamboo is nearly always rated higher than maple.
It’s also significant to note that bamboo is quite resistant to moisture and that is a fantastic feature. Since bamboo thrives more often than not in tropical areas, it is very resistant to spills.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s in fact an outstanding alternative for kitchens and bathrooms – both places where traditional hardwoods can be a problem.
Once it is installed, bamboo flooring is very simple to care for. To keep your bamboo floors looking brand new, keep dirt and dust picked up through regular sweeping or vacuuming. Additionally, you ought to damp mop the floors at weekly intervals.
Lastly, you will discover that bamboo is very comfortable underfoot. Even though the composition of the bamboo is often stronger than hardwood options, it’s easier on your body.
Some of the Dislikes of Bamboo Flooring
There are, unfortunately, some negatives connected with the use of bamboo flooring as well. In thinking about bamboo flooring pros and cons, we, unfortunately, have to discuss some of the negative aspects of the product, so we will discuss these cons below.
Being that most bamboo is grown and harvested in China. This becomes a big obstacle for those of us trying to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
With usage outside the Asian Continent, this means that the product has to be shipped great distances. There have been more and more crops started in the USA and this may not be a concern for those of us living here in the very near future.
Be sure to select your manufacturer of the bamboo flooring judiciously as some bamboo is manufactured with high levels of VOCs.
These volatile organic compounds aren’t healthy for the people who work with them, and they certainly aren’t good for the people who live in your home.
Since VOC’s off-gas for several years after the installation, it negatively affects the indoor air quality of the home. VOC’s ought to be avoided if possible, as there are many health issues connected with their exposure.
Be sure to scrutinize the MSDS sheets from a manufacturer, which will document all of the VOC information.
There is a wide variety of quality levels in bamboo flooring and if you aren’t careful, you can purchase flooring that isn’t very durable. Try to search for bamboo that has been allowed to fully mature at 5 years of growth.
Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons
Some bamboo is harvested after only 3 years of growth and is not nearly as durable. When selecting this as a flooring option, you don’t want to buy the cheapest product you can get your hands on – it won’t hold up in the long run.
Lastly, it is possible that bamboo flooring may fade. This is a normal problem for all wood floors, and not just specific to bamboo. While there are new UV resistant finishes being applied to all floors, it is most beneficial to minimize exposure of your floor to prolonged direct sunlight.
There are many bamboo flooring pros and cons and this is not the complete list. Even with the list of cons, I believe that the pros far outweigh them, and bamboo flooring is a fantastic way to contribute to your environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
More than anything else though, be sure to do your research on each product. What may not work at all for one family, may turn out to the perfect solution for another family!
Bamboo Flooring Costs
There is no much difference in the prices of bamboo floors and hardwood floors, as well as the installation costs. A square foot of bamboo flooring products costs between $2 and $8 (the national average is $3.84). You may spend another $4 on installation – material costs non-inclusive.
Unlike hardwood materials that can be graded for quality, it is almost impossible to grade bamboo materials. This is due to the absence of an independent rating system. The closest to a rating system is the grading system of retailers, which is subjective in most cases. This further emphasizes the need for a trusted and reliable flooring dealer when sourcing for bamboo products.
Bamboo Flooring Repair and Maintenance
There is not much to do as regards maintenance in bamboo – sweeping or vacuuming is just enough. You can go the extra mile by moping or cleaning it with a non-alkaline, non-wax cleanser.
The moisture resistance level in bamboo is slightly higher than in hardwood. The same can be said for resistance to dents and scratches, thanks to the more hardness of the bamboo. That said, do not treat your bamboo flooring as scratch-proof or water-proof.
Take precautionary measures against standing water and scratches. The continuous presence of water may invite mold. You must also prevent the bamboo materials from direct exposure to sunlight – it is the fastest way to decolorize them. If you can, use a UV-resistant flooring sealer for your finishing.
If your bamboo floors get defaced over time, you can simply redo the finishing. Just sand it down and apply the sealing coats again. The only exception to this is the engineered bamboo flooring.
Hardwood is more resistant to humidity compared to bamboo. Exposure to moist air will make your floor planks buckle and swell if you live in a humid climate. An arid environment will do the opposite – shrink the planks. If the situation gets critical, your bamboo flooring will most likely crack.
Bamboo Flooring Pros & Cons Facts
Benefits of Bamboo Floor
Bamboo flooring is a growing and popular trend. As an imported staple from Japan, North American consumers have been opting for bamboo more and more in recent years.
Bamboo is actually grass, not wood, and it’s a popular alternative to hardwood or wood laminate floors. Why choose bamboo, and what are the benefits of bamboo flooring?
With bamboo, for the most part, a homeowner can get just as beautiful of a look, plus easier installation, lower cost for materials, and environmentally-friendly benefits.
First, bamboo is known for its strength and durability, allowing it to support many times its weight. It is stronger than many hardwood floors. It is nearly unbreakable, and buyers are often able to get a 25-year warranty on a bamboo floor.
Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons
Plus, because it’s a plant, it is resistant to moisture and is less likely to develop water stains from spills. The type of processing can affect the strength, such as strand-woven bamboo, whose processing makes it stronger than traditional bamboo.
The finish also makes a difference. Bamboo with a Klumpp-brand finish and bamboo with a semi-gloss finish is stronger than bamboo with aluminum oxide or satin coat finish.
The beautiful and unique look of bamboo is due to its uniformity of color. Bamboo is available in a huge range of colors, from almost white to very dark, and the finish is available in high-gloss, semi-gloss, and matte.
Bamboo is relatively easy to install; it can be glued, nailed, or left as a so-called “floating floor.” It doesn’t require the same cutting tools as harder woods like oak and mahogany; mostly hand tools.
The potential for a homeowner to install it themselves can be a big money saver. Bamboo doesn’t need to be installed over any particular type of sub-floor; inexpensive plywood is sufficient. Some can even be installed directly onto a concrete sub-floor.
Maintenance and cleaning of a bamboo floor are pretty simple.
Particles of dirt and grit can scratch the bamboo finish, so they need to be swept with a soft broom or dust mop. It’s recommended to have a mat inside or outside all entry doors, and have everyone wipe their feet before their shoes touch the floor, to absorb water and catch debris.
Despite its overall great strength, on certain floors the load pressure from high-heeled shoes on a small surface area can make dents in the bamboo, so high heels should be avoided.
If you use throw rugs, make sure they don’t have a rubber non-slip backing, as the rubber can discolor the floor, and make sure the rug itself is colorfast.
Use small pieces of felt or other material under chair and table legs and other furniture legs, and don’t drag furniture across the floor. Spot clean with a damp cloth; you can use a wood floor cleaner if needed. Wipe up spills as soon as possible with a soft cloth.
A great benefit of bamboo flooring is that it can be half the cost of traditional hardwood floors, depending on the grade, finish, and the processing applied.
Another appealing quality is that it is an eco-friendly, renewable resource. Once bamboo is cut, it can be re-grown from the same plant again and again. Unlike trees, bamboo completely re-grows within a few years. Plus, remaining bamboo leaves and bamboo shoots are fed to livestock.
Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons
Allergy sufferers appreciate that bamboo doesn’t attract dust or dust mites. There are certain allergen concerns with materials used in some bamboo laminate materials and floor adhesives.
Lower-quality bamboo from some manufacturers may have problems with resins and outgassing of chemicals such as formaldehyde. However, if a consumer researches and asks questions, they can find a quality manufacturer to alleviate those concerns.
Bamboo floors have natural beauty and durability. Unlike laminate, bamboo is a completely natural material. It’s an eco-friendly, sustainable resource. Despite its potential vulnerability to high-heeled shoes, bamboo is still more durable than pine and many vinyl floors.
Ask for flooring samples to take home, and subject them to your own tests against scratches and dents. Bamboo flooring is available in a wide variety of finishes and colors, easy to install, and easily cleaned and maintained.
It’s advised for the consumer to do their homework and choose their manufacturer carefully, to avoid the allergy and durability concerns with certain manufacturers.
Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons