Bamboo Flooring- Exotic, eco-friendly and durable is what you will read in most reviews. But is this the correct image to put in your mind? Is Bamboo hardwood better than other hardwood? And what are the benefits of installing bamboo flooring over its more traditional counterparts?
The reality is that bamboo wood isn't really a wood. It is a plant and this eco-friendly flooring alternative is really better from an environmental standpoint than other hardwoods. Hardwood is made from trees that take up to 100 years of growth before they are ready to be utilized for flooring. Alternatively, bamboo takes 3-5 years until it reaches maturation and doesn't need to be reseeded because it is considered a grass.
Because it grows in sub tropical environments, bamboo flooring is typically more water resistant and can be installed in locations with a higher than usual humidity. This is the best choice for installing this type of floor in kitchens and bathrooms; just make sure you add an extra coat of polyurathane for a water resistant and stain free floor.
While bamboo may be more water resistant, the bad news is that just like all hardwood, it expands and contracts according to environment and moisture.
Bamboo Flooring Benefits
Other than the fact that it is eco-friendly and less succeptible to moisture and humidity factors, there are other benefits to choosing bamboo flooring over oak or maple hardwood. The biggest factor is that bamboo is typically harder and can handle more blunt force without denting and chipping. This particular benefit of bamboo hardwood is the primary reason why most home owners will even consider this for their floors. According to the Janka Hardness Rating, Bamboo is much harder than white oak and maple, two of the most popular hardwoods.
Bamboo Flooring Types
I wish I could say that choosing flooring is as easy as ordering food but just like hardwood, there are many different bamboo types to consider when you are looking to select your floors. The first thing to understand is that not all bamboo is considered equal. For instance, much of the low cost bamboo is not suitable for flooring at all. Less scrupulous bamboo companies will use the stalks of the plant that isn't fully matured in the hopes of appealing to those who are looking for a cost effective solution to flooring and the result is that the less mature the wood, the more likely it will dent and chip. These types of companies are responsible for giving bamboo a bad name.
Also, the darker the bamboo, the more it has been heat treated and the softer the wood will be which will also lend itself to the possibility of scratched surfaces. In other words, if you want more pristine bamboo hardwood over the long haul, you may want to consider using the lighter colored bamboo.
Solid Bamboo Floors vs. Engineered bamboo flooring....
Some people would naturally think that solid bamboo would be the way to go. But in reality, this choice depends on many factors. Solid bamboo is more prone to expanding and contracting (like all hardwood) and won't do as well in humid climates.
Engineered bamboo is not solid and is basically topped with a bamboo ply. Usually, there are other plies involved (some as high as 7 plies) including cork and pressed wood to make the flooring more durable than solid flooring. Because of the durability of engineered wood, it is the perfect flooring for pets and children as it can sustain more wear and tear than solid hardwoods.
Bamboo can also be installed on concrete or plywood boards and come in a variety of choices including the option to nail or glue down the wood to the floor. In addition to this, a lot of bamboo flooring now comes as a floating floor or one that doesn't require glue or nails and that can freely float over whatever flooring is underneath it. This is a perfect solution to a do-it-yourselfer or someone who wants to install the floors themselves.
Is Bamboo Flooring Expensive?
The best news about bamboo flooring is that it isn't as expensive as other hardwoods. In fact, choosing bamboo hardwood over traditional hardwood flooring could save you as much as 50%. And given the fact that bamboo has the same look and feel and comes with the same options of other wood, you have to ask yourself, why wouldn't you choose bamboo for your floors? Bamboo can be cleaned the same way as hardwood and is just as durable as most. However, once again, understand that all hardwoods can be dented and scratched up and will have some nicks and scratches over time. It is like a guy once told me in regards to this......No matter how careful you are, you will eventually create a scratch or dent. That is guaranteed. Now the question is...will your lifestyle fit with choosing bamboo over the other hardwood alternatives?
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