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Horizontal vs. Vertical Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons

Bamboo flooring is becoming an increasingly popular option for new homes and renovations. Before you’re able to decide whether or not to install bamboo flooring, it is important to know and understand the advantages and disadvantages of using this material for your project.

Advantages of Bamboo

There are many advantages to bamboo including its: environmental friendliness, durability, suitability, cost, variety of styles, warmth, and ease of maintenance. For many, these pros make the choice to use bamboo an easy one.

Environmentally Friendly

Bamboo is an excellent choice for those who are interested in building a “green” home or place of business. It is one of the most environmentally friendly options for flooring on the market. It is made from a type of grass, so it grows quickly in comparison to wood. It continues to grow without needing to be replanted, so it is highly renewable. For those who are worried about moisture and insects, the bamboo used for flooring is treated against them, and does not use harsh chemicals or pesticides in the process.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) uses the Green Building Rating System developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) as a set of standards regarding the environmentally friendliness of a particular building. The organization certifies buildings as “green” and looks at bamboo flooring as one of the best flooring options for this status.

Bamboo flooring is made from the Moso species of bamboo, meaning it is completely different than what pandas and other animals eat. This protects food sources for wildlife.


The Janka Hardness Scale, used to determine the hardness and strength of particular species of wood, rates solid bamboo flooring as a 1762 and engineered bamboo flooring ranks at a 1690, making both choices harder than both Red and White Oaks, Caribbean and North American Walnut, and Brazilian and North American Maple, among others. The Janka Hardness Scale rating is determined by how much force it takes to drive a .444-inch steel ball into a plank of wood .222 inches in diameter. The higher the rating on the scale, the harder and thus more durable the flooring is expected to be.

Bamboo flooring is a highly durable flooring choice for any location subjected to extensive usage and can stand up very well to the abrasion caused by children and pets. It is tough enough to resist the impact of falling objects in the kitchen, as well as in high traffic areas such as the living rooms and hallways.

Bamboo has a greater compressive strength than concrete and about the same strength-to-weight ratio as steel when subject to tension, yet it kinder to the body. When compared to standing on hardwood or concrete, the legs, feet, and knees do not experience as much strain and stress while standing on bamboo.

Cost Effective

When considering the durability of the flooring combined with the looks, and eco-friendly factor, bamboo flooring is one of the most cost effective options for a home because it is less likely to need repair in the long run.


No matter what taste there is to consider, bamboo flooring has an option guaranteed to please. The natural grain provides a unique look, and there are three main options for color: natural bamboo—light blonde color, carbonized bamboo—darker in color because the sugars in the plant caramelize due to longer boiling times, and stained bamboo—colored with a variety of stains available in light, medium, and dark shades.

For those who want the strength and durability of bamboo with the look of another type of floor, direct print bamboo is an option. Before this flooring is sealed, the pattern of another type of flooring, such as oak or cherry, is printed on. Regardless, there is a bamboo flooring choice to suit any décor.


Bamboo flooring adds an extra touch to the home, providing a comfortable feeling because of the natural look and feel of the material. The naturally attractive material may even evoke a sense of serenity.


Another selling point for bamboo flooring is how easy it is to take care of. Special cleaning agents are not needed and in fact should be avoided. Simply sweeping the floor is usually enough to clean it though sometimes, a damp mop can be used. The mop should not be too wet, as this could damage the flooring.

Disadvantages of Bamboo

While the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages of bamboo, it’s important to acknowledge both the pros and cons. The only notable disadvantages of bamboo floors are that they are quite sensitive to extreme climates or wet areas of the home, and they can be more susceptible to scratches than other types of flooring.

Sensitive to Extreme Climates

Because Bamboo is a natural product, it will react to moisture and changes in its environment more than a laminate, vinyl, or tile floor. If installed in an incredibly humid or exceptionally dry climate, bamboo floors will react to their surroundings. Excess moisture and humidity in the air can cause floor planks to plump or bloat. Conversely, if installed in an incredibly dry environment, the planks can shrink. In the most extreme scenario of either environment, bamboo floors will crack or split if installed in these extreme environments. Similarly, it’s best to avoid installing bamboo flooring in areas of the home that mimic these extreme climates, like bathrooms and basements that typically see high levels of moisture, as well as furnace rooms, sun rooms, or spas that see high levels of heat and temperature fluctuations.

Not Impervious to Scratches

Just like any natural wood product, it’s nearly impossible to keep its surface scratch free if it comes up against wear regularly. In much the same way that solid and engineered floors can scratch when they come in contact with high heels, pet claws, furniture legs, or grit and debris tracked in on wiped sneakers, scratches and nicks can accrue on bamboo floors. Adding area rugs or floor runners to high traffic areas like hallways, or protective footing on the feet of tables and chairs can help prevent these types of marks, but if you have a very active household with busy pets and family members, bamboo may not be the best choice.

Where to Install Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring can be installed in almost any room, above or below the ground, over wood, OSB (Oriented Strand Board), and existing vinyl flooring. Focus on areas such as the living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways. Other low traffic, low moisture rooms are suitable as well, like powder rooms or home offices.

Where Bamboo Should Not Be Installed

Bamboo flooring is not suitable in areas prone to excessive wetness such as bathrooms or laundry rooms. Avoid outdoor areas or areas altogether. Remember, extended exposure to moisture can cause a bamboo flooring to warp, bend, or swell.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I maintain my bamboo flooring?

In order to maximize the durability of your bamboo flooring, we recommend to place doormats or rugs at entrances to collect moister, sand, grit and other potentially damaging substances from being tracked inside. Dust, mop, or vacuum with a soft accessory to keep your bamboo floor clean from dust, dirt or grit. Do not use harsh detergents, abrasive cleansers, or corrosive chemicals to clean your bamboo floor. For sticky spots, use a soft damp cloth to gently scrub the floor. If necessary, use a generic hardwood floor cleaner. Do not use steel wool or other abrasive scouring pads.

Where can I install bamboo flooring?

Bamboo flooring can be installed above or below ground, over wood, OSB, or existing vinyl flooring. As bamboo flooring is a natural flooring product, it is not recommended that bamboo be installed in wet locations such as bathrooms, washrooms, saunas, enclosed porches or verandas, or anywhere that may require wet-mopping. Extended exposure to moisture may cause your bamboo flooring to warp or swell.

How do I install bamboo flooring?

Ensure that your sub-floor is flat and smooth. Take extra care when installing bamboo flooring over radiant heating. Read both the bamboo flooring and radiant heat system instructions carefully before beginning your installation, and read your bamboo flooring manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully.

What are the benefits of bamboo flooring?

Bamboo floors are easy to clean, and ideal for allergy sufferers as they do not promote dust or harbor dust mites. This type of flooring can be installed over numerous types of sub-floors such as: wood, sheathing grade plywood, vinyl tile, or Oriented Strand Board. Lastly, bamboo floors are environmentally friendly and sustainable. They are made with safe resins, and they have extremely low formaldehyde emissions.

Is “carbonized” bamboo flooring stained?

No. Carbonized bamboo is darker in color because it has undergone a change, not a stain. During the manufacturing of the product, the strips of bamboo are boiled and change color (becoming browner in tone). This process also softens the material.

What is the difference between “horizontal” and “vertical” bamboo flooring?

Natural bamboo stock is hollow and the walls of the plant are fairly thin. Strips of bamboo are therefore laminated together to make our 5/8” flooring. The terms “horizontal” and “vertical” refer to the manner in which bamboo strips are laminated together. In the horizontal style, the strips are laid flat so the top surface shows the bamboo’s natural growth rings, or “knuckles.” In the vertical style, the strips are turned on their sides and laminated together in long, slender rows creating a different appearance.

Can a bamboo floor be floated?

The bamboo flooring is a four-sided tongue and groove product that can be nailed to a wood sub-floor or glued directly to a concrete sub-floor. A floating installation is not recommended.

Is strand-woven bamboo the same product as traditional bamboo flooring?

No. Strand-woven bamboo is manufactured differently than traditional bamboo flooring. In the strand-woven process, strips of bamboo are coated with resins and then compressed with heat to form timbers. These timbers are then milled into flooring. This process produces bamboo flooring that is twice as hard as traditional bamboo flooring.

How much extra flooring should I order to allow for waste?

As a rule of thumb for non-professionals, add 7% to 9% for waste and cuts depending on your skill level and the layout of the area.

Can I install bamboo flooring in a bathroom?

Bamboo floors are not covered by warranty if installed in a bathroom. Like hardwood flooring, bamboo could swell if excessive water is left to stand.

What is the difference between bamboo flooring and hardwood flooring?

There are several advantages to using bamboo flooring compared to hardwood flooring. First, bamboo flooring is an environmentally friendly product. It takes only a few years for a bamboo plant to grow to maturity, while it takes decades for hardwood trees. Second, bamboo is actually harder than hardwood so it makes a more durable flooring. Third, in most cases bamboo is less expensive than hardwood while installation costs are the same.

Is bamboo flooring good for pets?

Bamboo flooring is an excellent choice for homes with pets. It is extremely durable, stain resistant, and scratch resistant. With pets, we recommend you choose a bamboo floor with a high rating for hardness on the Janka test.

How to Install A Bamboo Floor

Replacing old flooring with new bamboo is an excellent way to brighten your space with an eco-friendly material. Also unlike most types of wood, bamboo flooring is in plentiful supply and simple to replenish. However, if you’ve never purchased or installed this material before, you may have a few questions. Below are three different articles which outline tips and techniques for installing bamboo flooring!

How is Bamboo Flooring Made

Would you consider yourself to be an environmentally conscious consumer? If so, bamboo flooring is perfect for you. Bamboo is quickly becoming an industry favorite, as it leaves little waste while creating an attractive wood floor. Unlike other flooring materials, bamboo is a highly sustainable plant that can grow and harvest quickly. Ever wondered how these stalks of bamboo are transformed into flooring? Click on the link below to read the article!

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Bamboo Flooring from BuildDirect

Yanchi bamboo floors from BuildDirect are the result of years of innovation at the manufacturing stage. That innovation has one goal – to impress you, our customer.

Why BuildDirect?

  • Select floor that makes an impact with its unique patterning and durability.
  • Choose from a wide variety of rich and natural colors to accent your home and express your style.
  • You'll have a floor that can be installed easily, and in nearly every interior location you can think of.
  • Invest in your own eco-friendly lifestyle.

Bamboo wood flooring from BuildDirect is the result of years of innovation at the manufacturing stage. That innovation has one goal – to impress you, our customer.

It’s created out of the latest, state-of-the-art process that mimics bamboo’s best qualities: ecologically sound, sustainable, and adaptable. It’s a healthy, responsible, and modern addition to your space.

Industry Innovation

We know that you value the unique look of first-quality. So with the Yanchi line of flooring products from BuildDirect, what you'll get is a consistent color from board to board that will easily complement your surrounding décor with true 21st century style.

How We Offer Bamboo Hardwood Flooring for Less

Above all, BuildDirect is committed to the best in the industry. We’ve spent years cultivating the process that brings you the finest quality, affordable pricing all while cutting away the unnecessary.

Discount Bamboo Flooring

But never cheap bamboo flooring. We don’t think a ‘once-over’ is enough when it comes to quality. Our strict standards for checking and re-checking as part of our rigorous product quality testing means you’re consistently getting exactly what you expect – stellar quality.

Want to know more?

Have you got questions about bamboo flooring from BuildDirect? Talk to our sales department at 1 877 631 2845. Or, send an email to flooring@builddirect.com. We’re here to help.