Bamboo Flooring Guide

Bamboo Flooring 101: A Beginner's Guide

Everything you wanted to know about bamboo hardwood flooring including engineered vs solid, installation, cleaning and more!

Bamboo Flooring Guide Book

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 arrive 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.

Our helpful guide is designed to give people who are new to bamboo flooring all the information they need to start them on their journey towards this amazingly beautiful and rapidly renewable product.

How do we know what bamboo beginners need?

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:

  • Learn about the pros and cons of bamboo flooring
  • Learn more about bamboo as a plant
  • Understand how bamboo flooring is made
  • Decide if bamboo flooring is right for you
  • Discover the range of bamboo flooring colors, styles and finishes
  • Become familiar with the installation process
  • Learn how to clean bamboo flooring

And, if this guide doesn't answer your questions, you can call one of our flooring experts at (866) 710-7070 anytime!

Bamboo Flooring Planks & Grains Explained

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).

horizontal and vertical bamboo floors

When bamboo was introduced as a flooring product in the 90s it only came in horizontal and vertical grains. Both are lightweight, eco-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing. But they aren't as durable as what most home or business owners need. Horizontal and vertical bamboo flooring continues to be available and can be appropriate for certain situations.

These "classic" bamboo floors are created by laminating long rectangular strips of bamboo together, and they are only 1/3rd the hardness of strand woven bamboo. Here are what Horizontal and Vertical floors look like.

Horizontal Bamboo FloorCarbonized Horizontal Bamboo Floor
Vertical Bamboo FloorCarbonized Vertical Bamboo Floor

strand woven bamboo flooring

The product that Ambient helped pioneer in the market - strand woven bamboo flooring - has repeatedly tested as 2-3 times harder than most hardwoods; it's as heavy and tough a hardwood floor as you'll get and is much harder to dent than traditional hardwoods. As described in the section on how bamboo flooring is made, the process of weaving strands of bamboo and using high heat and pressure to create the planks makes this kind of bamboo flooring much more durable than even the hardest traditional woods.

Like hardwood floors, bamboo floors come in a variety of stains/colors and surface finishes like hand-scraped, wire brushed, or sawn. You can get tongue and groove, floating, and engineered options.

Strand Woven Bamboo Floor
Strand Woven Bamboo Floor

Engineered Bamboo Flooring VS Solid Bamboo Flooring

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.

Solid Bamboo Floor

Engineered Bamboo Floor

MOST BAMBOO FLOORS COME IN PREMIUM WIDE PLANKS

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).

bamboo flooring quality varies greatly between brands

Before you get started on research, keep these important things in mind:

  • 1There is no industry standard for grading the quality of bamboo flooring.
  • 2Make sure to choose the correct floor type for your installation. For example, if you have long runs of flooring, you'll want to choose a glue down or nail down floor, not a floating floor.
  • 3Check the supplier's qualifications: their floors should meet the CARB Phase 2 standard, and Floorscore certification is a plus.
  • 4Low-quality finishes can reduce the lifespan of your bamboo floor; finishes with aluminum oxide are extremely long lasting.
  • 5Some brands are known for shrinkage and other significant quality issues, so ensure to search the internet carefully for complaints and reviews before choosing a brand. Website like Yelp, Complaints Board, and others are a good place for honest reviews.

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.

common bamboo flooring myths and misconceptions

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.

"Bamboo floors shrink or cup."

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.

"Pandas need bamboo to survive."

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.

"Bamboo comes from China so the quality must be terrible."

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.

"Bamboo floors scratch easily / dogs will damage bamboo flooring."

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:

  • Use felt pads under furniture feet.
  • Sweep up sand and other grit before it gets ground in by foot traffic.
  • Make sure to use a wood floor cleaning head when vacuuming.
  • Clean up puddles within 20 hours. Pet urine will stain just about every floor on the planet if left as a puddle for too long, even concrete.

"Bamboo floors can't be refinished."

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).

"Bamboo comes from China so shipping makes it environmentally unfriendly."

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, do 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.

is bamboo flooring right for you?

There are many good reasons to install strand woven bamboo flooring in your home or business.

  • It's much more durable than the hardest hardwood and can't be dented by pet claws.
  • It's affordable - you get premium wide planks and long lengths that would normally cost you twice as much with hardwoods.
  • It's considered eco-friendly due to its rapid regrowth rate.
  • It's a natural product so it has beautiful unique planks - each one is different.
  • It available in a wide range of colors and surface styles like handscraped and distressed finishes.
  • It's warm underfoot and provides the same cozy feeling as hardwoods.
  • It requires refinishing much less often than hardwoods due to its density and toughness.

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.

Woven Bamboo Flooring

choosing the right type of bamboo floor

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 5 Types of Bamboo Flooring to find the right product
for your installation.

Woven Bamboo

How bamboo flooring is made

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 bamboo - way harder than traditional wood floors

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. The makes the most of the plant's natural properties to produce highly durable flooring.

To do this, manufacturers take long strips of dried bamboo and weave them together to create woven mats. But that wouldn't be enough to create durable flooring. That's why the woven mats are then exposed to high heat and then fused together to the 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.

ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND TOPICS RELATED TO BAMBOO FLOORING:

The-5-Types-Bamboo-Flooring
The 5 Types of Bamboo Floors
The-Benefits-Bamboo-Floors
The Benefits of Bamboo & Eucalyptus Floors
What Is Carbonization
What Does "Carbonized" Mean?
Why-Ambient
Why Ambient?
Bamboo-Flooring-Cleaning
How To Clean Bamboo Floors
How bamboo flooring is manufactured/made
How Bamboo Flooring Is Manufactured
7-Tips-For-Choosing-A-Floor-Installer
7 Tips For Choosing A Floor Installer
Strand-Bamboo—The-Hardest-Wood-Floors-In-The-Market
Strand Woven Bamboo — Hardest Wood Floors In The Market
Bamboo-Floor Janka Hardness
Bamboo Floors & The Janka Hardness Scale
Solid Class Bambooo Horizontal Flooring
Classic Bamboo Flooring (Horizontal & Vertical)
Can-Bamboo-Flooring-Be-Refinished
Can Bamboo Flooring Be Refinished?
Floating Locking Bamboo Floors
Click Lock (Floating) Bamboo Flooring
7-Tips-For-Choosing-A-Floor-Installer
7 Tips For Choosing A Floor Installer
Distressed Bamboo Floors
Distressed Bamboo Floors
Polyurethane Bamboo Flooring
Polyurethane Finish Bamboo Floors
Bamboo Flooring Installation
Bamboo Flooring Installation
Bamboo-Hardwood-VS-OtherFloors
Bamboo vs. Hardwood vs. Other Floors
Engineered Bamboo Flooring
Engineered Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo Flooring Installation Photos
Bamboo Flooring Installation Photos
Bamboo Flooring Video Clips
Bamboo Flooring Videos
Bamboo Flooring Moldings and Trim
Bamboo Flooring Moldings and Trim
Bamboo-Flooring-Formaldehyde
Bamboo Flooring & Formaldehyde
Handscraped Bamboo Flooring
Handscraped Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo Flooring in Kitchens
Bamboo Flooring in Kitchens
Frequently Asked Questions
11 Of The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Bamboo Flooring
More Durable Than Hardwood
Is Bamboo Flooring More Durable Than Hardwood?
Nail Vs Glue Vs Float
Installatioan - Which Do I Choose? Nail Vs Glue Vs Float
Nailing Down Bamboo Flooring
Nailing Down Bamboo Flooring: A Guide
Gluing Down A Bamboo Floor
Gluing Down A Bamboo Floor: A Guide
Installing Floating Bamboo Flooring
Installing Floating Bamboo Flooring: A Guide
Install Bamboo Flooring
How Much Does It Cost To Install Bamboo Flooring?
Bamboo Flooring Waterproof
Is Bamboo Flooring Waterproof? Can I Put It In My Kitchen?
Install Bamboo Flooring In A Basement
Can I Install Bamboo Flooring In A Basement?
15 Mind-Boggling Facts About Bamboo Floors
15 Mind-Boggling Facts About Bamboo Floors
Can Bamboo Flooring Be Installed Under Cabinets?
Can Bamboo Flooring Be Installed Under Cabinets?
Can I Install Bamboo Floors In A Dry or Humid Climate?
Can I Install Bamboo Floors In A Dry or Humid Climate?
What Kind of Saw Blade Should I Use To Cut My Bamboo Flooring?
What Kind of Saw Blade Should I Use To Cut My Bamboo Flooring?
How Much Extra Do I Order For Cutting & Waste?
How Much Extra Do I Order For Cutting & Waste?
In What Direction Do I Lay My Bamboo Flooring?
In What Direction Do I Lay My Bamboo Flooring?


The incredible edible bamboo plant

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?!

Some bamboos grow 1-3 feet per day

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.

The Incredible Edible Bamboo Planet

installing bamboo floors

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:

  • Do a bit of research first to determine if you want to install solid or engineered, nail down vs glue down vs floating, etc. In fact, if you need advice feel free to call one of our flooring experts at (866) 710-7070 for a few helpful tips.
  • The subfloor must be structurally sound, dry, clean, and level.
  • While laying the floor planks into place, care should be taken to select them from multiple (4-6) boxes simultaneously to ensure the shade dispersion is balanced across the installation.
  • Choose a bamboo floor who's manufacturer requires less than 5 days of acclimation. Long acclimation period requirements can indicate a low quality bamboo floor that has not been properly moisture balanced during the manufacturing process or a finicky product that responds poorly to humidity. However, allow for up to 10 days of acclimation if you're in a dry or humid climate.

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!

Cleaning and Maintaining a Bamboo Floor

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:

  • Keep your indoor humidity constant, between 35%-55% (same as hardwoods).
  • Use a soft cloth or microfibre mop to remove dust and dirt.
  • Never use a wet or steam mop.
  • Never use mineral spirits, turpentine or paint thinner to clean your bamboo flooring.
  • Clean up spilled liquids as quickly as possible, although most strand bamboo floors will give you about 24 hours of spill protection.
  • Put mats under rolling chairs and felt pads under furniture feet.
  • Use natural rubber or felt pads under all rugs.
  • Like all building products and other floors, bamboo can be affected by sunlight over time, so rotate rugs and furniture or use UV blocking films on windows that receive lots of direct sunlight.

closing thought

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.

FREE FLOORING SAMPLES

Tired of driving around looking for the right floor? Let Ambient ship you free flooring samples right into the comfort of your living room! At Ambient we offer up to 5 free large samples, and additional samples at just $1 each. If you order 4 samples of one color and lay them out, you'll have an area about the same size as a display panel in a local flooring store, all from the comfort of your couch!

Get Your Free Flooring Samples Now
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