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Bamboo Flooring: Weighing the Pros and Cons

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If you are troubled by which flooring to use in your newly renovated home, you might not want to leave out bamboo flooring as an option. The various advantages of bamboo flooring make it a rather popular choice among homeowners. But like all the other flooring materials, it has its drawbacks too. Be well aware of its pros and cons before making your decision.

Bamboo Flooring: Weighing the Pros and Cons 1

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What is bamboo flooring? 

Bamboo floors are made from processed bamboo plants and then produced into flooring planks with different colors, patterns, and designs. They are a durable and sustainable alternative to hardwood floors. One fun fact about the bamboo plant is they do not belong to the wood family but the grass family.

How is bamboo flooring made?

You may be curious about how bamboo plants are turned into these beautiful and unique floorings. The process varies for different bamboo floors, such as strand woven bamboo flooring, vertical bamboo flooring, and horizontal bamboo flooring.
Firstly, bamboo stalks are harvested when they reached maturity. After that, the green outer layer of the bamboo hull is stripped off. Depending on the type of bamboo floor, it is either cut into thin flat strips or shredded into strands. Bamboo strips and strands must be boiled and dried to remove any moisture.
An additional carbonization step may be added to obtain the beautiful rich brown color.

Why is bamboo considered a green flooring option?

Environmentally cautious people may be most interested in this question. Bamboo flooring is a ‘green’ option as it is a type of grass. It grows much faster than wood, needing only 3 to 4 years to reach maturity, while hardwood requires about 20 years. Therefore, it is considered a highly renewable material and thus, a more sustainable option than hardwood flooring.

Bamboo flooring pros and cons

Bamboo flooring advantages

Bamboo flooring is comparable to hardwood flooring. Besides being more earth-friendly, it has plenty of other advantages such as being easy to maintain and refinish, durable, pest resistant, and possibly more.

Environmentally friendly

As mentioned, bamboo is a rapid-growing grass and is capable of self-generating. It is a highly sustainable and environmentally friendly flooring option. Since bamboo is hollow and very lightweight, transporting bamboo produces less carbon footprints when compared to wood.

Easy to maintain

Everybody would want flooring that is easy to care for. High-quality bamboo flooring can be easily cleaned and maintained by regular sweeping and vacuuming. Occasionally mopping the floor with some soap will be sufficient to make it sparkly.

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Easy to refinish

Similar to other hardwood floorings, bamboo flooring is easily refinished when it becomes worn out over time. Based on the plank’s thickness, the bamboo floors existing surface can be sanded and repolished with a new coating.
However, some bamboo floors such as engineered bamboo floors cannot be refinished. These floors are usually manufactured with bamboo veneer attached to a plywood or fiberboard core. Hence, they can only be refinished if the veneer is thick enough.
Your bamboo floor should look as good as new after the refinishing process providing extra protection from future damages.

Durable

When properly maintained, high-quality bamboo flooring can last for a long time. Among different bamboo floors, stranded bamboo flooring has the best durability and is said to be even more durable than hardwood. This is due to the interlocked fibers created when shredded bamboo stalks were mixed with resins during the manufacturing process.
Consequently, this makes them a perfect candidate for high-traffic areas such as the living room or kids’ room where many activities take place.

Pest-resistant

Bamboo plants naturally possess pest-resistant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Unlike other plants, they require no preservatives and only a small amount of water to grow.
As such, if you’re worried about termites, bamboo flooring might be the one that you are looking for. Furthermore, chemicals used when treating bamboo floors make it impossible for termites to eat, hence lowering the chances of your floor being destroyed by this pest.

DIY potential

Different types of bamboo flooring have different installation processes. For easier installation, one may opt for the floating bamboo flooring method. The process involved is less complicated because the floor planks are not fixed to the sub-floor but layered over the existing floor which helps to create a seamless grip. That is why engineered bamboo flooring has high DIY potential.
A handy person should have no problem fixing the bamboo flooring with this technique.

Bamboo flooring disadvantages

Despite the many advantages of using bamboo flooring, there are some downsides as well.

Scratch prone

Like other hardwood floorings, bamboo flooring is prone to scratches regardless of its quality. However, there are methods to protect the surface of bamboo flooring such as refinishing it from time to time.

Keeping the floor clean regularly and placing felts pads on furniture legs may also help protect its surface from scratches.

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Not many styles

Although bamboo floors have a unique design and contemporary look, most natural bamboo floorings do not undergo recoloring after being made into planks. Paint on bamboo floors will not last long as strands in the bamboo do not absorb paint well.
Therefore, most flooring planks are in their original color, which may not provide a good fit for some interior settings.

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Moisture sensitive

As bamboo belongs to the grass family, it is prone to moisture absorption that may cause the floor planks to swell after some time.
Thus, it is not suitable for places with high humidity such as bathrooms. Just as it can swell, floor planks may also shrink or crack in dry environments.

Grading issues

Another disadvantage of bamboo flooring is its inconsistent quality claims. As bamboo plants are not the same, they will differ in height and color depending on factors such as farming conditions, making it tough to grade bamboo floor planks.
Thus, it is important to find out the species of the bamboo flooring used, when the bamboo plant was harvested, and how reputable the manufacturer is before purchasing to ensure that you are buying good quality planks.

Potentially toxic for sensitive individuals

Off-gassing may occur among low-quality bamboo flooring that uses resin adhesive containing urea-formaldehyde. Although it is generally not toxic in low concentrations, sensitive individuals should be aware of this potential hazard.
Homeowners who want to be on the safe side may purchase flooring materials from manufacturers that sell low volatile organic compound (VOC) products.
Of course, most high-quality bamboo floorings are expected to contain low-VOC.

How to install bamboo flooring? 

There are a few options to consider when installing bamboo flooring.
Techniques like nailing produce the tightest results when compared with the other methods. However, a professional installer may be required when installing nailed or glued-down bamboo flooring. If you have a bigger budget, this may be suitable for you. Add the extra labour cost to the materials, minus the hassle.
DIYers with a tighter budget may opt for less complicated installation methods such as floating floor installation. Floating bamboo floors utilize the ‘click-lock’ system, whereby the edges of the planks are interlocked mechanically. The top layers of the floor are glued to multiple sub-layers without permanently attaching the boards to the subfloor.
Any handy person would have no issue installing their bamboo floors using this technique. Besides, it is an excellent choice when used in places with humidity fluctuations because it provides spaces between planks, allowing them to expand and contract freely and hence, preventing cracks on the boards.

How durable is bamboo flooring? 

Durability is one of the utmost priorities when it comes to choosing your flooring. Many people would want their flooring to last for as long as possible as the flooring installation process is troublesome and requires much effort, time, energy, and money,
Generally, high-quality bamboo floors can be even more durable than hardwood, and withstand high impact with their dent-resistant properties.
Due to its manufacturing process, strand woven bamboo flooring is found to be the most durable bamboo floor, and they are suitable for use on heavily traveled routes at home.

Do bamboo floors scratch easily?

Any hardwood flooring is susceptible to scratches; the same goes with bamboo floors. However, harder quality bamboo flooring may be more scratch and dent resistant.
Though scratches may be unavoidable, bamboo floors will look as good as new after a simple refinishing.

How to clean bamboo flooring? 

Bamboo flooring is rather easy to clean. Regular sweeping, vacuuming and occasional mopping with mild soap will be sufficient to keep the floor clean and protect the surface for a longer period.

Bamboo flooring cost

Now for the most concerning question of all time, how much does bamboo flooring cost?
The price for bamboo floors varies depending on the type and quality. According to Forbes Adviser, average bamboo flooring is priced around $1.50 – $11 per square foot for the planks alone. However, you may have to factor in the labor fees if you are planning to hire professionals to help with the installation.

You may also do it yourself and save on the installation budget.

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Conclusion

Bamboo flooring is a unique and sustainable flooring option that performs similarly to hardwood floors. They are not only easy to maintain, clean, and install, but it is also durable, pest resistant, and potentially cheaper than hardwood floors.
Each type of bamboo flooring, from stranded woven bamboo floor to engineered bamboo floor will differ in its strengths and shortcomings.
As attractive as the advantages may sound, remember to consider their downsides. If you are fine with scratches, limited choice of styles, and do not plan to install them in places with high moisture, you may consider installing bamboo flooring. Make sure you research and choose the flooring best suited to your home.

For more on eco-friendly bamboo, read ‘Bamboo Product: The Eco-Friendly Choice For Sustainability’.

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