This guide was originally published on May 22, 2013. It was updated on January 9, 2023, to reflect current information.
THE PROS AND CONS OF BAMBOO FLOORING
Pictured above: flooring (3x harder than oak)
Thinking of purchasing bamboo flooring? A quick guide to the benefits and disadvantages of bamboo flooring.
Over the past 15 years, bamboo flooring gained favor as an eco-friendly, beautiful, and affordable alternative to traditional hardwood floors. Bamboo floors provide an easy-to-install alternative to traditional hardwood floors and look similar. Bamboo comes from a rapidly renewable material and is available in a variety of styles and colors. The experts at Ambient® share their take on the pros and cons of bamboo flooring :
Bamboo flooring PROS
1. Durable – Strand woven bamboo floors offer a harder and denser material than traditional hardwoods. Bamboo floors receive the highest rating on the Janka Hardness Scale, the universally accepted test of wood hardness. They stand up to kids and pets and still look great after years of use.
2. Affordable – Expect to pay between $3 to $5 per square foot for high-quality wide-plank bamboo floors. Bamboo flooring costs less because bamboo costs less to harvest, transport, and convert to flooring.
3. Eco-Friendly – Bamboo floors come from a highly renewable resource that matures in as little as 5-7 years. Many hardwood trees require more than 40 years to mature.
4. Easy Maintenance – Bamboo floors come pre-finished and are as easy to maintain. Just a quick sweep or vacuum once a week to remove dust and dirt keeps them looking great. About once a month, lightly damp mop with a non-alkaline, non-wax wood floor cleaner.
5. Pet and Kid-Friendly – Bamboo resists pet claws better than other wood floorings. It is not completely impervious, but it holds up better. Since it’s so hard, it also doesn’t dent as easily as other wood floors (if you have kids, you know this matters!).
6. Better Air Quality – Bamboo flooring gets high marks as one of the safest flooring materials for your home. It doesn’t trap dust or allergens and cleans very easily. We recommend you stick with a reputable bamboo flooring supplier that tests its products annually.
7. Can Be Refinished – Restore bamboo floors just as you would hardwood floors. Of course, depending on how long you live in your home, you may never need to take advantage of this pro.
The CONS of bamboo flooring
1. Beware of Low-Quality Brands – Check sites like Yelp, Ripoff Report, Complaints Board, and the BBB when researching bamboo flooring products. Lower-quality brands employ a rushed manufacturing process and a short moisture-balancing period and shrinkage results. The best bamboo flooring comes from companies that specialize in bamboo.
2. Scratched by rolling furniture – Just like hardwood flooring, rolling chairs eventually scratch bamboo flooring. Install a chairmat under rolling chairs – no matter what kind of flooring you have.
3. Not waterproof – Bamboo is water-resistant but not waterproof. That’s a big difference. So, don’t install solid bamboo flooring in areas that get wet. Opt for engineered and SPC core planks with a bamboo wear layer.
2. Lack of a Grading System – Unfortunately, no independent grading system categorizes bamboo material quality. Some retailers post their own “reviews” on their websites, but those are usually cherry-picked and do not reflect an independent assessment.
3. Can’t be installed below grade – Like all hardwood floors, solid bamboo must install above grade because of moisture. Ambient engineered bamboo flooring breaks this rule! Engineered bamboo flooring installs below grade. So it’s an ideal way to get wood flooring in your basement!
Bamboo Flooring Saves Resources
When buying new flooring, you want to feel good about the choices you make. Bamboo offers a smaller carbon footprint than other materials because it uses fewer resources to grow, manufacture, and ship.
Fewer farming resources
As a cash crop, bamboo is about as eco-friendly as it gets. Bamboo isn’t a tree. It is grass. And if you have a yard, you know how fast grass grows. Instead of forests, bamboo grows in groves.
A single bamboo plant grows incredibly fast, up to several feet in a single day! Bamboo takes just a few years from planting to harvest.
During the time bamboo grows, the farmer doesn’t apply fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Bamboo chokes out weeds and literally grows like grass because it is grass.
That makes bamboo an incredibly eco-friendly crop when compared to hardwood trees.
Hardwood trees grow in managed forests. The trees take decades to grow large enough to harvest. So, a hardwood tree farmer may harvest their crop every 30 years or more. In the same amount of time, a bamboo farmer harvested their crop 10 times! Hardwood trees are susceptible to insect damage, and pest control requires the application of toxic pesticides.
Fewer harvesting resources
Bamboo is harvested by hand. The individual stalks are culled from the grove according to their size. The top of the stalk is severed, and this causes the plant to regenerate and grow a new bamboo stalk again. A single bamboo plant regenerates again and again.
When diesel-burning logging trucks go into a hardwood forest, every tree goes down, even the ones that aren’t part of the harvest. This logging strategy provides access for mechanical logging equipment. Those trees are wasted.
A cut hardwood tree never regenerates. Forests replanted with saplings take another 30 years to reach maturity.
Fewer transportation resources
Most bamboo grows in Asia and converts into bamboo flooring in Asia as well. What an eco-friendly way to manufacture!
Hardwood trees grown in the United States, Canada, and Europe travel by ship to Asia, convert into flooring, and then travel back for sale by retailers. That’s far from energy-efficient or eco-friendly.
True green transportation manufactures products close to where components grow.
So, even bamboo flooring from China is eco-friendly where transportation is concerned. It only crosses the sea once, and that’s to get to the US.
Disadvantages of bamboo flooring exist. But, we truly believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. If you think bamboo is right for you, call our flooring team today at (866) 710-7070!
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
Prefinished versus Finished On-site
Prefinished bamboo flooring comes in natural, carbonized, and stained varieties. It requires no further sealing, sanding, or staining after installation. The flooring offers an immediately ready surface for walking. Hand-scraping and distressing occur at the factory before the final finish is applied.
Prefinished bamboo flooring offers a ready-to-install option. Flooring that requires an on-site finish takes longer and costs more for the installation labor.