Plenty of people are curious about bamboo flooring. They hear it's eco-friendly but might not know why. They hear it's durable but aren't sure if that's true.
Bamboo floors are a relatively new kid on the block, having arrived on the scene in the mid 90's. The first bamboo floors were softer and less durable than today's versions, and used strips of bamboo that were laminated together.
Those original floors were not like today's strand woven bamboo floors and there is quite a bit of misinformation on the world wide web related to bamboo. This is why we created this bamboo flooring guide for beginners.
This page (and the pages linked within) will serve as your complete guide to bamboo flooring. Below, you’ll find all the information you need to feel confident in shopping for and investing in this beautiful and sustainable bamboo product.
Way back in 2005, Ambient Bamboo Floors became one of the first companies in the world to pioneer the incredible product known as strand woven bamboo flooring. Over the years we've served tens of thousands of homeowners, builders, and architects across the globe, shipping our quality floors to all 50 U.S. states and such far away lands as Europe, Africa and beyond. Along the way we've developed our share of innovative, high quality products, endeavoring to provide our customers an unrivaled level of value, professionalism, integrity, and respect. This may explain why Ambient has earned an unparalleled reputation for quality and service around the world.
IN THIS GUIDE WE INVITE YOU TO:
And, if this guide doesn't answer your questions, you can call one of our flooring experts at (866) 710-7070 anytime!
There are 3 types of bamboo flooring grain types: Classic "Horizontal" (aka Flat Grain), "Vertical" (aka End Grain), and "Strand Woven" (aka stranded or strand).
Solid wear layer versus wood all the way through the plank. Like traditional hardwood floors, bamboo comes in both engineered and solid versions. The term "Engineered" simply means that the top of the plank is composed of a solid wood wear layer, which is laminated to a substrate - usually made of multi-ply wood or high density fiberboard (HDF). The thicker the wear layer, the better the quality. Engineered strand woven bamboo floors can be refinished, which is an advantage over most of their engineered hardwood cousins.
They're installed using different methods. Solid bamboo flooring can be either nailed down or glued down to just about any sub-floor, including concrete. Engineered flooring is a favorite of DIY'ers and large building contractors due to its fast and easy "floating" click lock installation method, where the planks are snapped together quickly. Engineered flooring is the only hardwood recommended for basements and also comes in some tongue and groove versions. Both click-together and tongue and groove engineered floors can be glued down if needed.
Misconceptions about durability and safety. From a durability perspective there is no real difference and all strand woven bamboo floors (both engineered or solid) can be installed throughout all rooms in the home (however solid floors shouldn't be installed in basements). Strand woven bamboo both engineered and solid is prized for its toughness and far outperforms traditional hardwoods in kitchens and high traffic areas due to its resistance to denting, and typically will not be permanently damaged by pet claws. Strand bamboo is also highly water-resistant up to 30 hours. "Engineered" and "laminate" flooring are sometimes conflated but they are not the same product; engineered hardwood contains natural variation and is composed of real wood, while laminate flooring is made of plastic and has repeating patterns. There is no difference in indoor air quality between engineered and solid but we recommend checking to ensure the brand you choose meets the CARB Phase 2 indoor air standard and is Floorscore certified.
Traditional hardwood floors with planks wider than 4 inches and longer than 4 feet have always been considered "premium" and usually come with a premium price tag too ($7 per sq ft or higher). Conversely, due to its rapid regrowth rate, bamboo flooring comes in the same wide and long (premium) planks at around half of the cost (under $6 per square foot, delivered).
Before you get started on research, keep these important things in mind:
These facts about the business behind bamboo floors can help you spot "too good to be true" deals and get long-term value from your purchase. Checking online reviews of products and dealers will also help you avoid disappointment.
As you do your research, you may come across poor reviews from homeowners or installers that have had bad experiencees with low quality bamboo flooring brands. Don't miss out on this amazingly durable and beautiful product because someone else had a bad experience - as long as you purchase the right brand you'll be a satisfied customer for life! Here's where we set the record straight on the most common myths and misconceptions.
This usually happens when using poor-quality brands or when rooms have wildly varying humidity. In both cases, you'd have the same problem with hardwood floors. There are other common installation errors that are easily avoided by taking 20 minutes to read the installation instructions.
That's true. But the bamboo used to make flooring is not the kind pandas eat or inhabit. In fact, Pandas don't live in the areas where we harvest our Moso bamboo.
Some products that are made in China are low-quality, this is true. But there are also very high-quality products made in China, like iPhones, Mercedes, and Ambient's bamboo floors! A reputable supplier like Ambient carefully controls the manufacturing process and supply chain, and has strict quality control processes in place to ensure the products are superbly crafted and hyper durable.
Strand woven bamboo flooring is extremely difficult to dent compared to most other hardwoods. This makes it virtually pet-claw proof from a "permanent denting" standpoint, as even the largest dogs can't apply enough force to leave permanent marks. This is precisely one of the main reasons why homeowners choose strand bamboo.
As for micro-scratches on the surface, there is no surface on earth (diamond floors, anyone?) that won't scratch when hit with something sharp enough, so no floor is scratch-proof. To minimize scratches from furniture and everyday activity, and keep your floors in tip-top shape, try these tips:
Bamboo flooring indeed can be refinished. What you can't do to a bamboo floor is stain it on site – but you can certainly sand it down and then add several clear coats of polyurethane. Also, if you take proper care of your floor it can last you for decades. Truth is, if you buy a high quality brand, it's highly unlikely you personally will ever have to have your bamboo flooring refinished (under residential foot traffic).
Many hardwoods harvested in the Americas, Europe and even Asia are shipped to China for milling and finishing, and then shipped back to retail locations around the world. That's two shipments compared to one (bamboo grown in China and shipped out from there). Also, due to its insane regrowth rate, bamboo forests generate orders of magnitude more biomass then their hardwood counterparts and take about 1/10 of the time on average to regrow for harvest. Additionally, when bamboo is harvested, the plant isn't killed, unlike trees used for wood. New growth emerges every spring. So continually harvesting bamboo is way better for the environment than waiting decades for hardwoods to grow, then damaging the soil when cutting them down. For a more in depth read on how bamboo flooring is eco-friendly, check out our article Examining the Effects of Hardwood, Cork and Bamboo Flooring on the Environment.
There are many good reasons to install strand woven bamboo flooring in your home or business.
But there are other things to consider to make sure bamboo flooring is right for you. Bamboo is a beautiful choice for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and even basements. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions (like using only engineered floors in basements) and you'll have a beautiful floor that will last a lifetime.
Okay! You've decided bamboo flooring is right for you. But remember, bamboo floors come in solid planks, engineered planks, and can be either tongue and groove or click lock.
We recommend you check out our helpful guide The 6 Types of Bamboo Flooring to find the right product
for your installation.
There are three kinds of bamboo flooring grains available in today's market: horizontal, vertical, and strand woven. Horizontal and vertical bamboo flooring are made from flats strips of dried bamboo, and the strips are glued together in either a horizontal or vertical arrangement and then milled into planks. Strand woven bamboo floors are shredded strands of bamboo that are compressed together and milled as well. All three processes create unique grains that are different in appearance.
Horizontal and vertical bamboo floors were the first types to hit the market in the mid-90′s and were then known as "solid" bamboo flooring. However strand woven bamboo flooring is also "solid", consisting of high-quality Moso bamboo through the entire plank. Bamboo floors (like hardwood flooring) also come in engineered planks (this is the type of flooring that is usually "floated"). To get a better idea of the difference between solid, strand and engineered bamboo flooring check out this guide.
Strand woven bamboo flooring is considerably harder than either of its horizontal or vertical cousins, and all other hardwoods.
Bamboo is a grass, not a wood, even though it's classified as hardwood flooring. This means it's fibrous and flexible in its unprocessed state, and we make the most of the plant's natural properties to produce highly durable flooring.
To do this, manufacturers take long strips of raw bamboo and weave them together to create woven "mats". The strands are woven and thus that's where the name "strand woven" originates from. But that wouldn't be enough to create durable flooring. So then the woven mats are exposed to high heat and fused together to an extreme by compression machines.
The result is flooring planks that rank much, much higher than any other hardwood flooring on the Janka Hardness Scale. So high that strand woven bamboo is way harder than even Brazilian Walnut (sometimes called Ipe), Ebony, and Bolivian Cherry.
There are several kinds of bamboo, and all of them are evergreen and belong to the grass family Poaceae. Like other grasses, bamboo stems are hollow, which helps the bamboo plant grow rapidly and make it one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Did you know that bamboo is also used for food, paper, and just about a gazillion household products like cutting boards, kitchen cabinets, and many more?!
Let's say you plant one small bamboo plant, which, if it were a tree, you'd call it a sapling. That plant will never grow taller or wider. Instead, it uses the energy it absorbs from the sun and soil to build a massive system of roots called rhizomes.
Small varieties can grow to a height of 3 feet in 24 hours, but that's not the kind used in flooring. Moso bamboo is considered a "giant" bamboo and is the best for flooring products.
For the first 4 years of growth, there will be no evidence of the massive growth happening below ground. In the spring of year 5, however, a few new plants will break through the ground and grow at an explosive rate for about 6 weeks, which is when they typically run out of energy.
Native to China, Moso bamboo commonly grows to heights of 40-80 feet. Yet, not every Moso plant will grow that tall because bamboo grows in clusters (groves) with taller plants emerging each "generation".
That first generation of new Moso bamboo plants will grow to about 10 feet tall. As this happens, the bamboo grove has more leaves pulling in energy from the sun, and the root system grows stronger. As a result, the batch of plants that push up the next spring can grow taller!
Now the grove has even more leaves and the root system gains more strength and grows wider. The pattern of higher plants each spring continues for 8-10 years, at which point the grove reaches its maximum height.
In nature, each bamboo plant can live about 10-15 years, depending on the variety. Whenever a plant dies or is cut down, the grove doesn't die. Instead, it uses its energy to replace the plant.
This is what makes bamboo flooring an eco-friendly option.
Bamboo flooring is installed just like traditional hardwood flooring: via the nail down, glue down, or floating methods.
Whether you'll be doing the work yourself or having a professional do it, remember:
We also offer a very thorough Bamboo Flooring F.A.Q. page with a specific sections about installation and much more. Want to read Ambient's official installation guide? We have both an English Version and a Spanish Version available for you!
Keeping your bamboo floor clean and in good shape is easy. Follow these basic guidelines and you're sure to get years of enjoyment from your floor:
Although we've been in the business almost from the start, we never forget that for most people, there's still much to learn about this beautiful flooring. Many of the people who buy our products are beginners yet they quickly become well-informed, satisfied customers. If you're considering bamboo for your home or business, we welcome you read through the rest of our website and if you're in the market for flooring consider getting a few free samples!. We look forward to helping you discover the benefits and beauty of bamboo flooring.
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