Bamboo Wood Floors:
Good and Green?

bamboo wood floors, bamboo hardwood floors,bamboo floor picture

"Bamboo wood floors" has nearly become a buzzword among green building advocates in the past few years. It might even vie for the title of "most talked about green flooring option of the year" award!


What exactly is bamboo? Is it a viable option to the hardwood flooring that is so familiar to us?

Bamboo is a member of the sugar cane family, widely grown throughout Asia in particular. It is technically not a wood, but a rapidly growing GRASS. It is touted to be the fastest growing plant on earth, and its tensile strength has been compared to steel. Bamboo has the capability of not only fast growth, but also has the capacity to restore degraded agricultural land and can regrow without replanting.

Bamboo is typically called wood or bamboo hardwood flooring. Though not recommended for use on bathroom floors (you'll want to avoid standing water on any wood-like product), bamboo may be used for any other flooring needs.

Unlike tropical hardwoods, which may need 50-100 years to reach maturity, bamboo can reach maturity in a mere 5 years!

Bamboo Hardwood Floors:
Pros and Cons

We all want to know if bamboo flooring is REALLY superior to hardwood - and if so, why? You have likely heard that bamboo has extreme hardness and is good for high traffic areas. You've also probably heard that bamboo is eco-friendly because it is a rapidly renewable resource. Bamboo is also touted to be more stable than most tropical hardwoods (less likelihood of severe shrinking or expansion due to humidity fluctuations).


Well, that depends. And I mean, it REALLY DEPENDS.

On what?

The positive or negative characteristics of bamboo wood floors depend to a great degree on the quality of manufacture.
Since bamboo manufacturers seem to be "a dime a dozen" nowadays, you need to ask some hard questions.

Here's what to look for:

  • Are the stalks mature? (younger stalks do not have the durability of matured bamboo)

  • Are the stalks dried properly? If kiln dried, to what % of moisture content? (the lower the better; preferably 6-8%)

  • Is the bamboo from environmentally sound sources? (such as plantations in which no herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers are applied)

  • Are the stalks cut cleanly? Laminated tightly?

  • What adhesives are used? Are they formaldehyde free? (or low enough to meet stringent quality control standards)
    Is the adhesive cheap and subject to deterioration under normal conditions?

  • Does the company import from numerous mills? Or are there strict quality control measures in place?

  • What is the warranty on the product?

  • How tough is the finish on the product? Does it have a scratch-resistant topcoat? Is it abrasion-resistant?

  • Can this particular brand be sanded and refinished like hardwood?

  • Is there an outlet nearby, or must you have it shipped for long distances?

As you can see, there are many factors to consider. Because there are no national/international standards on bamboo manufacture, you'll need to do your own research. In a nutshell: find a reputable company = find a reputable product.

Does it meet the qualifications of a

green building product?

If you can answer the above questions to your satisfaction, bamboo wood floors may add value not only to your living space, but may actually increase the value of your home as well.

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