Bamboo flooring is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for a type of solid wood flooring for your home. It isn’t exactly a new type of flooring as it has been available for around two decades. However, recent advances in its manufacturing have greatly enhanced its performance while also diversifying its appearance. It is available in an array of different wood-like styles similar to walnut, maple, cumaru and tigerwood.
It is one of the most sustainable types of wood flooring and the best part is that it may look like a tree but bamboo is actually a kind of grass. This gives it the ability to grow back once it has been cut down at a much faster rate than a new tree. Bamboo takes around 5 years on an average to reach maturity, making it a suitable flooring option for any home.
Here is the information you need to make purchasing bamboo flooring for your home an easier task. This guide consists of everything you should know from what bamboo flooring is made of, how it is made, the different types along with the pros and cons of it.
Bamboo is a type of grass originating in China. This means that it doesn’t need to be replaced once it has been cut down as it continues growing. Because it reaches maturity fairly quickly, it is an eco-friendly alternative to hardwood flooring. Also, bamboo fibres are longer than timber providing great tensile strength. It is becoming an increasingly desirable flooring option because of the numerous benefits it provides.
Bamboo forests are usually harvested once every five years by hand. It is colour coded into the different seasons and cut after completing the fifth year of growth. This ensures the harvesting is only done on the mature bamboo plants and that the forest is not completely flattened all at once. The process of harvesting doesn’t cause any kind of damage to the roots either. This results in it producing abundant and healthy crops for more harvests in the future.
The manufacturing process of bamboo flooring is different to other hardwood flooring options as it is a hollow plant. Once it has been harvested, the outer hull is removed from the canes to make the inner stalks accessible. The plant is then cut into long strips called fillets, which are then milled on the outer sides. The purpose of this is to eliminate their natural curvature and to create flat strips that are versatile. These strips then need to be completely dried and boiled to get rid of any moisture starches and natural sugars. The boiling process makes the bamboo less desirable to insects and is a key benefit for homes in tropical locations which are prone to termite infestations. It also makes the plant less likely to suffer contraction and expansion with changes in humidity levels.
Once the strips are prepared, the bamboo is manufactured into two different types of bamboo flooring. The fibres produced after milling the edges of the fillets don’t go to waste either and are used to create another type of bamboo flooring.
Different Kinds of Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo flooring can be chosen according to the colour of the course, the build, and the method of installation of the planks. There are three main types of bamboo planks available and widely used for flooring purposes.
• Horizontal grain bamboo – When the grain is being created, the processed strips of bamboo, known as bamboo fillets, are horizontally placed together and heavily compressed with the help of very powerful adhesives. This makes the planks hard and proficient to withstand large amounts of weight when used as flooring boards.
If the boards don’t have a smooth and even surface, a lamination process using high pressure is used to make sure the thickness of the board is uniform all over.
• Vertical grain bamboo– Similarly to horizontal grain bamboo, vertical grain bamboo planks are created by placing planks together and applying heavy pressure on them. The main difference between the two is that the planks are used either vertically or horizontally. The compression applied is done so sideways keeping the perspective of the planks in mind. Here too, lamination is used to get rid of any minor problems with the plank’s uniformity.
• Strand woven bamboo – This is considered to be a more contemporary kind of bamboo flooring as it has emerged from the original manufacturing procedure to accommodate extra durability and hardness. It is produced by coating the raw fibres in resins and compressing them together by applying extreme pressure and heat. This compressed material is gradually transformed into planks used for flooring. The planks are considered to be twice as hard as the vertical planks and it also looks much different than the rest.
The Pros of Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo being a natural material is becoming increasingly popular. As it is similar to real hardwood flooring, it provides its owners with many benefits. Here are some of them to ensure the flooring works well in your home.
– Due to the manufacturing process with which bamboo flooring is made, it is quite durable and strong. The Janka hardness scale is used to measure the hardness of wood flooring. The rating of bamboo flooring comes somewhere in the middle, between 1380 and 1180 on the scale. However, strand woven bamboo is considered to be much harder and comes with a rating of 3000 on the scale.
Bamboo flooring is available in a variety of colours and styles. Customers have many options to choose from, including natural, vertical, horizontal, carbonised, hand scraped and tinted bamboo flooring etc. You also have the benefit of choosing myriad designs and colours such as carbonized bamboo which is dark in colour and natural bamboo which is light in colour. The dark colour appears as the sugar in the plant is caramelized because of a longer boiling period. Stained bamboo is available in dark, medium and light shades. Laminates or refinishes can be chosen to make the flooring look more appealing.
With deforestation on the rise, bamboo flooring is the perfect solution to problems related to conserving forests and trees. This is because bamboo takes only 5 years approximately to grow to full maturity. This is faster compared to any other kind of hardwood, which normally takes around 20 years to reach complete maturity. This is one of the main reasons that bamboo is considered to be an eco-friendly and sustainable type of flooring.
- Cost effective
– Bamboo flooring is available at a more budget-friendly price than any other type of hardwood. Considering the flooring’s durability combined with its eco-friendly factor and its unique and exotic flair, it becomes one of the most cost-effective additions to any home.
The Cons of Bamboo Flooring
Although there are many benefits of bamboo flooring, it also has certain drawbacks. Here are the biggest drawbacks of installing bamboo flooring.
– Bamboo is known to have good moisture and water resistance properties when compared to other hardwood flooring options. However, it is still a natural material and is made up of organic elements. Too much moisture can cause discolouration, mould growth and warping. This can happen when water is left on the surface of the flooring over a prolonged period, causing it to seep in the bamboo and cause visible swelling. Care should be taken to keep the flooring as dry and devoid of moisture as possible.
Prone to scratching
– Even though bamboo flooring is relatively easy to maintain, flooring of a lower grade tends to get scratches and dents rather easily. There are many things that can cause the surface to scratches such as pet claws, high heels and furniture legs. But, this isn’t just limited to bamboo flooring and applies to all kinds of wood flooring.
Sensitive to humidity
– When bamboo flooring has been installed in humid areas, the moisture present in the air causes the planks to expand and plump up. Extremely dry environments can cause shrinking. Either way, the planks can get cracks. The best thing to do is install bamboo flooring in areas which are not too dry and where the flooring isn’t susceptible to humidity.
Bamboo, when used as a flooring material, is a unique and an exotic product. It has its own rich feel and colour. It is a strong material and has a greater compressive strength than any other hardwood flooring. Bamboo flooring can make any home feel stylish and stand out from the crowd. Consider installing it in your home if you are looking for a durable, eco-friendly and budget-friendly alternative to hardwood flooring.