Introduction to Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo flooring has been around for a while, but current technology is making bamboo flooring more versatile. Many enjoy bamboo because of its status as an eco-friendly option for hard surface floors. Some say that bamboo’s sustainability makes it superior to hardwood and other flooring options, but it’s best to consider bamboo flooring pros and cons to make sure you’re making the best choice for your home.
Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that has a hardness similar (and often times better) than typical hardwoods. It’s considered a green option since it grows without fertilizers or pesticides and needs very little water. Bamboo matures at a much faster rate than trees. Bamboo takes about 3-7 years to mature whereas trees need decades to mature. This means that bamboo can be harvested faster and more frequently than hardwood.
Bamboo Flooring Construction
All bamboo flooring is a type of engineered flooring. Bamboo is sliced, shredded and formed to make a board. Its construction affects its visual appearance. Bamboo flooring comes in three types: horizontal, vertical or strand-woven. Horizontal shows off the natural look of bamboo where you can see the “knuckles” or growth rings of the plant. Vertical bamboo has a more uniform look, and strand-woven bamboo is the hardest/strongest of the three.
Look of Bamboo Floors
The natural look of bamboo flooring is a light, blonde color. For natural darker shades, bamboo is carbonized, allowing the sugars in the plant to caramelize for darker look. However, carbonized bamboo is softer because of this process. Bamboo can also be stained or printed on to mimic other wood types.
Bamboo vs. Hardwood
In a direct comparison to hardwood, there is very little difference between the two at first glance. Price, installation and maintenance are all basically the same. In terms of hardness, some bamboo can be far superior to hardwood, especially strand-woven bamboo. However, the life of bamboo is shorter than hardwood, giving owners a lifespan of 10-25 years. Hardwood floors can last for hundreds of years.
Bamboo Flooring Maintenance
Because of its similarity to hardwood, cleaning bamboo floors is the same as well: daily dusting, weekly mopping and deep cleaning/polish application every few months as needed. The finish on a bamboo floor will usually be polyurethane—making it perfect for use with Bona hard surface cleaners! Refinishing/sanding bamboo floors can be done as well, but quality is important. Low-quality bamboo flooring can be difficult, if not impossible to refinish. Floor professionals note the importance of a higher quality bamboo as it's common for low-quality bamboo flooring tear or “fuzz” when trying to refinish.
Cons of Bamboo Flooring
While there is a lot going for the use of bamboo flooring, bamboo can take a hit in the same category it’s applauded for—sustainability. While the plant is seen as sustainable, the processing and manufacture of bamboo increases its exposure to potential VOCs. Also, most bamboo is imported into the US from countries that don’t have universal grading systems. Cheaper types of bamboo can be easily dented or scratched. Bamboo can be sensitive to humidity and water damage as well.
When it comes to considering bamboo as flooring option for your home, it’s best to do your research and make sure the retailer offers quality bamboo that can have its harvesting and manufacturing practices certified by a reputable source.
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