Thinking of purchasing bamboo flooring? A quick guide to the benefits and disadvantages.
Over the past 10 years bamboo flooring has burst onto the flooring world as an eco-friendly, beautiful and affordable alternative to the traditional hardwood floors that have been around for many decades. Not only are bamboo floors easy to install and similar to traditional hardwood floors in appearance, they’re different in that they’re made from a rapidly renewable material into a myriad of styles and colors.
The PROS of bamboo flooring
1. Durability – Strand woven bamboo floors are many times harder and more dense than traditional hardwoods; in fact they’re the highest rated floors on the Janka Hardness Scale, the universally accepted test of hardness in wood. This means they stand up to kids, pets, and don’t look dented up after years of use.
2. Affordability – You can find high quality wide-plank bamboo floors between $3 to $5 per square foot, which is way lower than comparable hardwoods. Not to mention most bamboo floors come in premium lengths and widths (think all 6 foot, wide planks, in each box) instead of a mix of short and skinny “builder grade” strip planks that make your floor pattern look busy.
3. Eco-Friendliness - Bamboo floors are made from a highly renewable resource that is able to grow and mature in as little as 5-7 years. Compare that to many hardwood trees that can take more than 40 years to reach maturity.
4. Easy Maintenance – Bamboo floors come pre-finished and are as easy to maintain as any other pre-finished wood floor. You can usually get away with a quick sweep or vacuuming once a week to remove dust and dirt particles. About once a month you can lightly damp mop using a non-alkaline, non wax hardwood floor cleaner.
5. Pet-Friendly – Bamboo is much more resistant to pet claws than other hardwood flooring species. That’s not to say it is completely impervious, but comparatively speaking, it holds up way better.
The CONS of bamboo flooring
1. Some Brands Shrink – Shrinkage is oftentimes the result of a rushed manufacturing process and short moisture balancing period. As long as you do your research on the brand you’re considering and you choose a reputable supplier, you’ll have an amazingly tough and beautiful floor for life that’s also eco-friendly. Not to mention you’ll save thousands of dollars compared to traditional hardwoods. As with anything else, you’ll want to make an informed buying decision – using review sites like Yelp can save you many headaches down the road. Knowing what types of bamboo flooring to use is also key, as with any flooring choice. The best bamboo flooring brands are usually companies that just specialize in bamboo flooring.
2. Lack of a Grading System - Unfortunately, there is no independent grading system that is currently being used to categorize the quality of bamboo materials. Retailers may post their own “reviews” but those do not reflect an independent assessment. This makes it important to find a quality and reputable brand so that you’re sure you’re getting what you pay for.
3. Can Be Re-Sanded, But Not Stained – If you install strand woven bamboo flooring, it’s doubtful you’ll ever need to refinish a strand bamboo floor, because they won’t look dented up like other woods after 10 years. While bamboo floors can be refinished, it is difficult to site-stain them. Therefore once you sand the bamboo down you’ll be left with either the natural (blonde) or carbonized (brown) color of bamboo flooring, and then you’ll be able to apply a clear coat polyurethane.
THE FIVE TYPES OF BAMBOO FLOORING
SOLID STRAND TONGUE AND GROOVE
ENGINEERED CLICK LOCK FLOATING
SOLID CLICK LOCK FLOATING
ENGINEERED TONGUE AND GROOVE FLOATING
CLASSIC “SOLID” HORIZONTAL OR VERTICAL TONGUE AND GROOVE