Bamboo flooring is becoming an increasingly popular option in new homes and in 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.
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.
Compared to hardwood and other flooring options, bamboo has a high climatic suitability because it grows in the tropics. This makes it a suitable option for the kitchen and laundry rooms, areas where hardwood does not work so well. Bamboo also does well in both arid and humid climates because it does not swell and contract like hardwood.
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. One disadvantage is, it cannot be installed in high-moisture rooms in the home and can be difficult to cut if you are not using the correct saw blade (a cross-cut blade works best).
Cannot Install Throughout the Home
While the durable flooring is suitable for high traffic areas, the kitchen and the laundry room, it is not suitable for outdoor use or in areas of the home susceptible to large amounts of moisture.
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 high traffic areas such as the living room, and hallways, as well as areas prone to scratching and denting, such as the kitchen, laundry room, and bedrooms.
Where Bamboo Should Not Be Installed
Bamboo flooring is not suitable in areas prone to excessive wetness such as bathrooms. Avoid outdoor areas or areas that require wet mopping. Extended exposure to moisture can cause a bamboo flooring to warp, bend, or swell.