Looking for a new flooring option? Not sold on the same old hardwood floor?
There’s a new option for you … bamboo flooring.
If you haven’t considered bamboo flooring in the past, you may have heard and believed some of the rumors. It’s soft. It’s difficult to maintain. It won’t last as long as more traditional hardwood.
Don’t believe the rumors.
Bamboo flooring is one of the fastest growing materials in the flooring industry. For good reasons.
Let’s start with resale value.
You may or may not be planning on selling your home in the future. But even if it isn’t a thought, most of us like installing things that will bring us up to modern times. Sure, we want our own personalities to shine through. But we also want something that will last, and won’t look straight out of last century within a few short years of installation.
According to the National Wood Flooring Association, a poll they conducted asked real estate agents what they believe about houses with hardwood flooring:
- 99 percent say the house is easier to sell
- 90 percent say they can sell it for more money
- 82 percent say it sells faster than homes with other flooring options
And while type of hardwood is always a personal choice, one real estate agent stated that bamboo floors were at the top of the list for providing greater intrinsic value.
Bamboo flooring can help produce an easier sale.
Convinced you should take a second look at bamboo flooring?
What is bamboo flooring?
While we keep referring to bamboo flooring as a hardwood, it in fact, is not wood. It’s a grass. Yet because it doesn’t fit or resemble other flooring categories – tile, vinyl, laminate – it is slotted into the hardwood category because it looks a lot like hardwood.
What makes it even better than hardwood is its renewability. Because it is a grass, it grows very quickly. It can be harvested in as few as three years, cut down to be made into flooring materials. Compare that to some exotic woods that can take as long as half a century to come to maturity. It’s easy to see why this renewable resource is becoming so popular.
You’ll often hear bamboo flooring referred to as either horizontal or vertical, or strand-woven. It’s important to understand the difference.
If bamboo is cut either horizontal or vertical, it will give you a floor that looks like actual bamboo. During processing, bamboo stalks are sliced into strips. They are boiled to remove the starch, dried, and laminated into a board format. These boards are milled into planks to create strip flooring.
These stalks can be laid either horizontally or vertically into the board, thus creating either horizontal or vertical bamboo strips. Horizontal bamboo gives a greater impression of it looking like bamboo stalks, while vertical placement creates what is often referred to as tigerwood because of its streaks.
Strand woven bamboo flooring combines smaller pieces of the bamboo shoot and interweaves them with adhesive to make a stronger flooring product. Because the bamboo is pulped and mashed up, it can be formed into many different types of flooring, taking on a variety of appearances.
Because of the way bamboo flooring is processed, it is an extremely durable product that won’t change a lot over time. That means it’s an excellent choice for active households and high-traffic areas.
Because of the processing and the addition of adhesives to the final product, it creates a hardness factor that can easily compare to some of the more popular hardwoods. The Janka Hardness Scale puts natural bamboo somewhere around 1400. Compare that to Douglas Fir with a 660, or even red oak with a 1290.
It’s just as hard, if not harder, than the most popular hardwoods. It looks just as good as hardwood. And it can cost us to 50 percent less per square foot than some hardwood choices. All of that adds up to a flooring material that seems perfect for your home.
The downside of bamboo
It’s no wonder people are turning more to bamboo flooring than ever before. But before you dive in and add bamboo to the top of your list, there are a few things you should know and watch for.
There are several hundred different bamboo species, and not all of them are up for the job of becoming flooring. Yet that doesn’t stop some manufacturers from trying to pass it off as flooring.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most bamboo comes from China. And not every manufacturer holds itself up to high business standards. As a result, many companies put profits first and product last. This causes quality issues to vary widely throughout the product lines.
If bamboo is harvested too soon, mixes toxic chemicals in with adhesives, or bonded with inferior material, it weakens the end product. This can lead to flaking, peeling, easier scratched or dented product line.
There isn’t a set standard for bamboo flooring that crosses the globe. Without set standards, buying bamboo is often buyer-beware. That’s why you should think carefully before you make your final selection, and find a reputable dealer who spends time sourcing from high-quality manufacturers.
With set standards in place, every aspect of production would be carefully controlled. Because that isn’t the case, bamboo is produced in all kinds of factory conditions.
Even when properly processed, consistent moisture is important throughout the drying process. This is important to create a product that is stable and handles well over time. Once on the job site, it’s important to let bamboo acclimate to its new surroundings. Strand woven bamboo can take anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on the climate.
That’s why it’s important to select a contractor who understands bamboo. This isn’t just another hardwood. You can avoid potential problems if installation is done only after testing and gauged to be ready to install.
From a health perspective, it’s also important to focus on the entire manufacturing process. To create bamboo flooring, adhesives are mixed with bamboo pulp to create the final product. Some Chinese factories use things like urea and formaldehyde in glues, which are known to harm health. Not only do installers run a greater risk by handling the product, but off-gassing can also cause serious health problems for everyone in the household.
We can help you make the best selection
We don’t say all of this to make you afraid of installing bamboo flooring in your house. Instead, as Denver flooring experts, we tell you this to ensure you ask questions before you make your final selection.
Bamboo flooring is a popular choice for many reasons. We love the look and durability factor.
But to ensure you get a great product, don’t trust those “too good to be true” sales where you find material at a very low cost. Spend the time to get a high-quality product you’ll love for years.