Today, everybody is trying to ‘go green’! However, figuring out the difference between eco-friendly and harmful products can be difficult. Many are considering bamboo flooring as a green choice. This is because it is considered to be more affordable and eco-friendly than hardwood flooring. But, is it? Go through these reviews to learn the truth.
Everybody knows how expensive hardwood flooring can be. An affordable alternative to wood flooring is bamboo flooring. If you are thinking about opting for this flooring then you need to learn some real facts about it. Because, though this flooring is more affordable than hardwood flooring, and said to be eco-friendly compared to other wood flooring; there are many issues surrounding bamboo flooring that you need to take into consideration, before you make your choice.
Different Bamboo Flooring Reviews
The natural color of bamboo is light-yellow (blonde). But it can be stained or carbonized to the color of your choice.
Per square foot price of bamboo floors can be between $1.5 to $8, exclusive of the installation cost. The cheapest are the unfinished bamboo floors, which cost around $1.5 per square foot and the high-priced ones are the hand-scraped bamboo floors which cost around $8 per square foot.
When you are buying wood flooring, you might get a free installation service or a discount on the installation. If you wish to get it done by a contractor, then look for a reputed one. You can always bargain for lower installation cost. Installation of bamboo flooring is easy and similar to any hardwood floor installation. The easiest installation is the click and lock type. Another easy installation method of bamboo flooring is the tongue and groove. In this, pieces of bamboo fit with each other like a jigsaw puzzle.
The three most popular brands of bamboo flooring are Teragren, Home Legend andShaw. These brands have received many positive reviews from consumers. So, you can consider bamboo flooring from these brands. However, it is very important that you choose the appropriate type of bamboo flooring even if a reputed manufacturer offers many types. Also, there are many distributors like Lumber Liquidators, Lowes, iFloor, etc. which offer bamboo flooring at a discounted price. So, make sure you compare every type, manufacturer and distributor of bamboo flooring smartly before making a decision.
Natural Bamboo Flooring
The natural color of bamboo is light-yellow. When bamboo is heated, different colors are produced. The more you heat the bamboo, the darker the color gets, and the softer and less durable the bamboo becomes. So, choose a lighter shade for the floor, if you want a natural and more durable flooring.
Natural bamboo flooring costs around $2 per square foot. Natural bamboo flooring is available in planks. You can install these planks by either nailing them or gluing them together.
Carbonized Bamboo Flooring
Carbonized bamboo flooring comes in shades of coffee, caramel and honey. These different colors are obtained by boiling bamboo at different temperatures. This makes it around 20% softer. So, it’s not that durable when compared to natural bamboo floor. But, if you are looking for a specific color to match your home decor, carbonized bamboo flooring is one of the choices.
Carbonized bamboo flooring price is around $2 to $4 per square foot. It is available in strand woven flooring and solid flooring, both horizontal as well as vertical.
Stained Bamboo Flooring
If you wish to go for natural bamboo but want a specific color, stained bamboo flooring is the best option. Planks of natural bamboo are stained with different colors. So you can get strength of the natural bamboo and color of your choice.
It is available in planks, so installation is similar to natural bamboo flooring. It is priced around $4 per square foot.
Solid Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo wood flooring is filled with details and you can see the fine or thick lines. In horizontal grain bamboo, you can see fine long lines and in vertical grain bamboo you can see interesting small stripes. In solid bamboo flooring, planks of wood are used. These planks are then glued together to form a surface. In solid bamboo flooring there are two types, that is, horizontal and vertical. In horizontal, flat layers of planks are placed on each other. In vertical flooring – long, thick planks are glued to each other in one layer, displaying the fine nodes of the wood.
Solid flooring is stronger than red oak and cheaper than hardwood floors. It can also be floated on a sub-floor.
Engineered Bamboo Flooring
This is not 100% bamboo. It consists of different types of wood glued to each other and the top layer has bamboo strips. It is stronger than solid wood. It has a lesser expansion rate compared to non-engineered bamboo floors. Engineered bamboo flooring due to its expansion rate, is a good choice for places having very dry or very humid weather.
Engineered bamboo floor can also be floated and is a very good option if the sub-floor is concrete. Engineered bamboo floor price starts at $3 per square foot.
Strand Woven Bamboo Flooring
This kind of flooring is made by weaving different strands of bamboo together and sticking them by glue. It is visually attractive as you can see the different shades of stripes on the floor. It is more durable than grain bamboo floors, both horizontal and vertical. Thus, it a great choice for the high-traffic areas. It is very easy to clean and maintain; you can use a dust mop to clean strand woven bamboo flooring. For high-humidity areas, it is a great choice as it resists moisture and has a longer life.
Strand woven bamboo floors are more durable than solid bamboo floors. It is priced around $4 per square foot.
Floating Bamboo Flooring
If you are a DIY enthusiast, go for click-and-interlock bamboo flooring. In click and lock method, different planks of bamboo are fixed together without using adhesive. Floating flooring is the easiest to install as it is the click-and-interlock type.
Floating flooring is not attached to any sub-flooring. Planks of bamboo floors are fitted together like an interlocked puzzle. And only in certain cases adhesive is used. Because of its easy installation it is very popular.
Laminate Bamboo Flooring
For bamboo laminate flooring, thin long strips of bamboo are removed. Such pieces are converted to vertical or horizontal laminated pieces. Laminate floors are cheaper than hardwood floors and natural bamboo floors. Bamboo laminate flooring is more durable and easy to install.
But once after long use, the laminate floor starts showing signs of wear and tear, it can’t be refinished or re-coated. If you are looking for a nice but cheap wood flooring, laminate bamboo flooring is the best option available.
Pros and Cons of Bamboo Flooring
Listed below are facts on bamboo used for manufacturing flooring.
- Though bamboo is considered a tree by many, it is actually a grass. Most of the bamboo used for manufacturing bamboo flooring comes from China.
- The species used for manufacturing the flooring is called moso. It is very strong and flexible. Growing moso is fast and easy, making it readily available.
- Being a grass, bamboo grows faster than trees used for making hardwood floors. Trees used in hardwood flooring are oak, maple, cherry, etc. The harvest period for a hardwood tree can be anywhere between 50-120 years. On the other hand, bamboo has a harvest period of around 7 years.
- As bamboo is a grass, it regenerates itself. After harvesting bamboo, its roots remain in the soil, and there is no need to replant it. For growing bamboo, very little amount of pesticides or fertilizers are required.
First of all, let us discuss the main issue regarding bamboo flooring. Do you think bamboo flooring is eco-friendly? Well, then think again.
Listed above, were some of the facts of bamboo flooring. But, many manufacturers knowing the ever-growing demand of this flooring, are interested in larger and faster production.
- Many-a-times bamboo gets harvested before it reaches its ideal hardness. Bamboo reaches it’s full growth within few months, but to reach the required hardness it needs many years. Manufacturer’s harvest the bamboo within few months.
- This quickly gives them the raw material required for manufacturing. Doing this means soil erosion and use of lot of fertilizers and pesticides to boost the growth of bamboo.
- Also, bamboo comes from China, so one can’t be sure of fair trade practices.
- Another important issue is that in the manufacturing process of bamboo flooring, formaldehyde-based glues are used. This glue is unhealthy for the environment and the consumer too.
- Lastly, it is shipped from China. This means a lot of fuel is used for transportation, which contributes to pollution.
So, it is clearly not as eco-friendly as you thought it was. Next comes another important question – Is bamboo floor really tough compared to other flooring types?
- As mentioned above, bamboo needs many years to harden. The hardened bamboo makes durable and tough flooring.
- However, bamboo which is harvested just after few months growth is not so durable.
- Bamboo surpasses many hardwood flooring in the hardness test. This is because bamboo is a grass and not a tree. It can resist round objects falling on it. However, anything sharp can just cause a lot of damage to bamboo flooring.
- It means this flooring is susceptible to denting and bending. Flooring made from bamboo which has been harvested after seven years is more durable. But early harvested bamboo can’t be at all guaranteed against denting and bending.
Lastly, comes the question – Is bamboo flooring more affordable than other wood flooring?
- If you are going for a good hardened variety of flooring, then it will last longer. This type of bamboo flooring will cost more too.
- However, if you buy the inexpensive variety of flooring, then it will cost less. But, it will show wear and tear very easily. Also, refinishing such a flooring is not possible as the bamboo strips will fall out from the planks. So, instead of refinishing you will just need to replace planks. This adds to the cost of bamboo flooring.
- Refinishing this flooring is not such a good idea as the glue which is mostly formaldehyde, is toxic. One needs to wear mask and gloves while doing it, as the fumes released during refinishing can be quite harmful to the person working on it. So, the safest is to replace the damaged floor planks which will add up to the cost.
Given above were the various pros and cons of bamboo flooring and the most frequently asked questions answered. However, if you still wish to go for this flooring, then here are some practical shopping tips that you need to keep in mind.
- Go for bamboo flooring which is made from moso bamboo, which is at least 7 years old. This will ensure that you get the hardest and most durable flooring. Avoid going for carbonized bamboo, as this flooring tends to be soft. Strand woven stand out as the most durable flooring.
- You can get samples of bamboo flooring and check them for denting. Also, compare the samples so that you can choose the one that goes with your home decor.
- Do a good research on the supplier. It’s very important to choose a reputed and trusted supplier, that sells you a quality product at an appropriate price.
- Check if the manufacturer has an FSC(Forest Stewardship Council) certification.
- Bamboo floors are certainly cheaper than hardwood floors, but before you buy the bamboo floor planks, calculate the additional cost of installation. Also, if you are buying unfinished planks, the cost of staining the planks, beveling its edges, etc., should be taken into consideration.
- It is advised that you go with pre-finished bamboo planks as this will make your job easier. Also, leaving the finishing and installation to the professionals is a good idea if you are looking for optimum results.
- Bamboo floors come with a zero to lifetime warranty. Decide how long you want your wooden flooring to last and invest accordingly.
- Avoid formaldehyde glue-based bamboo flooring. Though, this glue is used by most manufacturers to produce bamboo flooring. If you can’t find a formaldehyde-free variety, then go for a manufacturer which uses the least amount of this glue.
As you can see bamboo flooring has many disadvantages to it. So, one needs to take a very wise decision when selecting the bamboo flooring type and manufacturer. If you wish to be more eco-friendly, then you can also consider going with recycled wood flooring. It is a more durable and cost-effective solution.