Bamboo has slowly made it one of the most popular flooring options receiving attention in recent years. It is among the top choices for most homeowners looking for cheaper, environmentally friendly, and sustainable flooring.
While bamboo is not a wood, it is comparable to hardwood flooring, sharing most benefits and drawbacks. If you want to install bamboo flooring in your home, chances are you’re making the right choice. Below are the pros and cons of bamboo flooring to help you make your final decision.
Pros of Bamboo Flooring
Tough and Durable
Bamboo is a durable flooring that can easily handle high-traffic areas like kitchens, entryways, and hallways with ease. There are different ways of making bamboo flooring, which also influences their durability and hardness. The different types of bamboo flooring include strand woven, engineered, horizontal, and vertical.
Stranded bamboo is by far the hardest and most durable type of bamboo flooring, with a Janka rating of around 4000. This makes it more durable than some types of hardwood flooring, such as Brazilian Ipe and Cumaru. Strand woven bamboo is constructed by compressing bamboo strands with resin to produce a very hard surface. The resin also gives the bamboo flooring an exotic appearance, similar to some hardwood flooring.
Engineered bamboo flooring, like engineered hardwood, is stable and easier to maintain. It is made from a thin piece of natural bamboo glued to a backing layer and added a wear layer. Engineered bamboo still looks like natural bamboo and is also very durable, easier to install, and easy to maintain.
Horizontal and vertical bamboo flooring are made by either cutting and arranging bamboo strips flat or sideways. They are bonded with an adhesive and pressed together. Horizontal bamboo preserves the natural look of bamboo, while vertical bamboo offers a cleaner and better graining.
Comes in Different Varieties
While bamboo does not come in many a wide variety like hardwood flooring, there are still different varieties a homeowner can choose from. These include natural bamboo, carbonized bamboo, and strand-woven bamboo.
Natural bamboo flooring comes without many changes and has a lighter color. Carbonized bamboo flooring is constructed by placing it in high heat and pressure. A dye is then added, which changes the color of the bamboo flooring from tan to lighter brown. However, the process of carbonizing bamboo also reduces its strength and hardness.
Stranded bamboo flooring comes in a richer color, similar to walnut or Brazilian ipe hardwood flooring. It also has beautiful marbled grain and a warm look similar to most hardwoods. Strand woven bamboo flooring can also be sanded and refinished like wood flooring, but it’s rare due to its durability.
Cheaper & Budget-Friendly
Bamboo flooring is a good option if you’re looking for budget-friendly but durable flooring. Normal and vertical- and horizontal-grained bamboo flooring costs around $3 to $4 per square foot. Strand woven bamboo flooring is slightly more expensive at $3 to $5 per square foot. Engineered bamboo costs around $2 to $5 per square foot, depending on the veneer’s thickness.
Bamboo flooring is cheaper and offers good durability compared to other flooring, such as hardwood flooring. However, because bamboo is not locally grown here in the USA, shipping costs and taxes can slightly raise the bamboo flooring price.
Eco-Friendly & Sustainable
Unlike other types of flooring, bamboo is a renewable resource. Bamboo grows so fast, which makes very little negative environmental impact when it is harvested and used for different products such as flooring. Once harvested, the root system of bamboo is not destroyed; thus, it replenishes itself, and stalks continue to grow.
However, the manufacturing process of bamboo can create some environmental concerns. When being constructed, bamboo flooring uses adhesives that can contain formaldehyde. This can be a problem for individuals sensitive to this chemical, so be careful and check the labeling. Usually, cheaper bamboo flooring may contain higher quantities of formaldehyde, while expensive bamboo uses alternative resins as the binder.
Easy to Maintain
To maintain bamboo, sweep it with a clean and soft brush or vacuum it regularly to remove debris, lint, and other smaller particles. Wiping it occasionally with a damp cloth and a bamboo floor cleaner, like the Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner, will also help remove residue from the floor.
Once properly finished, it is even easier to maintain bamboo flooring. Bamboo flooring is also slightly more resistant to water damage, scratches, dents, and dings.
Can be Refinished
Bamboo flooring, especially strand woven bamboo, is very hard and resistant to scratches, dents, and dings. However, when in direct sunlight, it can fade or discolor. If your bamboo flooring gets scratched or discolored, it can be easily refinished back to its new look.
To refinish bamboo, slightly sand it down to remove scratches and old finish, and get a new even look again. Once you sand it down, apply a clear coat of polyurethane to protect the floor from future damage. For engineered bamboo flooring, check with the manufacturer if it can be refinished, how often you can refinish it, and how to proceed.
Cons of Bamboo Flooring
Prone to Scratches
While strand-woven bamboo flooring is harder to dent or scratch, other types of bamboo flooring can be easier to scratch. Carbonized bamboo flooring is slightly softer due to treating it under high pressure and heat. This makes it easier to scratch or dent than other bamboo flooring types.
Water and Moisture Sensitive
Like hardwood flooring, bamboo can also be damaged by water or high moisture. It can swell up and change shape if it absorbs more water or moisture. Loss or moisture can also cause bamboo flooring to warp or crack. Bamboo flooring is also not suitable for use in areas of high humidity, such as bathrooms or basements.
Can be Toxic
Cheaper bamboo flooring can contain a smaller percentage of urea-formaldehyde when using cheap ura-based resins to bond the flooring pieces. If you are sensitive to this chemical, be sure to check the product description when shopping for bamboo products. Always look for formaldehyde-free bamboo flooring to be sure it is not toxic.
Check for certification from an independent source, such as GREENGUARD or FloorScore., This helps you know the bamboo flooring is safe, does not contain formaldehyde, and won’t emit higher levels of VOCs when installed.
Despite different types of bamboo flooring, like natural, strand woven, carbonized, and engineered, there are still not many alternatives. Compared to hardwood flooring, you get many species and more variety depending on the texture and grain. Vinyl and laminate flooring also come in many designs and varieties that will suit any interior decor setting.
Is Bamboo Flooring Right for You?
Bamboo flooring will work in most rooms and areas in your home where wood flooring works. It shares most positives and weaknesses as a hardwood flooring. Bamboo is a natural and renewable resource, which makes it appealing if you’re interested in green products. Overall, bamboo is a good and durable flooring cheaper than other options, such as hardwood flooring.