Things To Consider When Buying Bamboo Flooring

Thursday February 18, 2010
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There is a certain mystique about bamboo flooring. Not many know about bamboo and its advantages and disadvantages.

Bamboo is a grass native to China, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia and many other far–east Asian countries where it grows in elevations below 12,000 feet. Currently there are about 1250 known species. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant known on the planet where some species are recorded as growing 1 meter a day to reach a height of up to 60 meters. Bamboo is an atmospheric and soil purifier as it generates more oxygen in comparison to a tree. Bamboo is often planted to rejuvenate degraded areas. Bamboo is a high–yield renewable natural resource that can selectively be harnessed on an annual basis. It has a range of applications from flooring, wall paneling and paper making to rebar in reinforced concrete beams.

After harvesting, bamboo stalks are split lengthwise. For a product of natural color the bamboo strips are left as is. For a darker shade the strips are carbonized which caramelizes the sugar to create a deep amber color. In the process the hardness reduces slightly. The strips are then steamed under pressure then kiln dried to reduce moisture. The strips are now glued with adhesive and bonded under heat and pressure. Blank flats are now milled to size, commonly of 5/8” thickness then sanded, and the edges milled for a tongue and groove or snap lock construction. The cross section of each blank comprises typically 15 layers of bamboo strips. The finish is a layer of ultraviolet curing lacquer. Bamboo flooring is available in planks of either vertical or horizontal grain configuration.

Bamboo flooring is strong, durable, eco–friendly and resistant to insects. It is rated 1380 on the Janka hardness scale, slightly harder than White Oak at 1360. Carbonized bamboo, where the color is darkened for appearance, is approximately 10% softer. Strand woven bamboo is the hardest bamboo flooring and some rate as high as 3000, higher than Brazilian Cherry. If you are thinking of buying bamboo floors, here are some points to consider.

 

  1. When buying bamboo flooring, consider the grade. Grade A is fully mature bamboo, of consistent color and without mold or fungus. With proper care and maintenance, the flooring could last a lifetime.
  2. What is the required maintenance for bamboo flooring? Be sure to use recommended care and cleaning methods. Using the wrong type of cleaner or cleaning method can shorten the life of your bamboo floors. Refer to bamboo floor care for more information.
  3. Bamboo flooring offers many variations including 3 different types; solid, engineered and strand woven. Color can be natural, carbonized or even stained. Bamboo flooring offers horizontal and vertical grain and each offer a totally different appearance.
  4. Bamboo floors can be sanded and refinished should any damage occur.
  5. Make sure bamboo planks are fully sealed on all sides. This is an important aspect necessary to inhibit moisture damage.
  6. Consider what type of glue is used when buying bamboo flooring. Choose flooring that conforms to E1 Safety and Emission Standards which means no formaldehyde.
  7. Bamboo flooring can be convenient for DIY installation. Refer to our FREE guides on installing bamboo flooring.
  8. Ask about the warranty with your bamboo flooring. Certain things may void a warranty so you should be clear on what the parameters are.
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