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how is bamboo flooring made?

After Moso,  or Mao bamboo has matured for 5 to 7 years, the stalks are harvested, and then transported to the manufacturing plant for processing. Once there, the stalks are cut into workable lengths and then fed into machines that split, size and cut them into thin strips for bamboo flooring. To prevent any potential mold, fungus or insect problems, these strips are boiled and then sent to a drying kiln to reduce moisture levels.

After drying, some strips are separated out for carbonization, a method of steaming bamboo under pressure to change the color of the bamboo flooring. Depending on how long the bamboo is steamed, the resulting color can range from light amber to a deep, rich coffee. The resulting carbonized bamboo floors are not as hard as natural bamboo.

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Making Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring is found in three varieties: solid, engineered, and strand woven. Solid and engineered floors begin as bamboo strips assembled into sheets. Solid bamboo sheets are constructed in vertical or horizontal layers. Horizontal bamboo flooring is usually constructed by layering the sheets 3 or 4 high. In vertical bamboo flooring, bamboo strips are flipped on their side and glued together, exposing the thin edge of the strip. Once prepared, the sheets are pressed together under high pressure.

To create engineered bamboo flooring, bamboo sheets are cut into thinner sheets that will serve as the floor's veneer. This veneer layer is applied to the wooden core of the engineered flooring; usually a plywood of varying plies and thickness, but can be solid strips of wood or high density floorboard. Adhesive is applied to the wooden core and the bamboo sheet is placed on top and then sent to a hot or cold press depending on the manufacturer.

Strand woven bamboo flooring construction begins with the scraps created by stripping bamboo for planks. These strands are boiled and dried out, with some of them carbonized. The strands are shredded into thinner pieces before gluing and molding, during which they are mixed and bound together with special resins made to resist scratches, UV light, and moisture. The sticky mixture of resin and bamboo strands is packed down into long rectangular steel molds, resulting in a mixture containing about 30% more bamboo fibers than found in traditional bamboo flooring. Under tremendous heat and pressure, the bamboo bales are pressed together, binding resin to bamboo strands. The result is dense, solid rectangular bamboo timbers. These timbers are then milled into bamboo floor blanks.

These newly created bamboo floor blanks – whether solid, engineered, or strand woven – are milled into planks with tongue and groove or click and lock edges. The milled flooring is sanded smooth, and sold unfinished or given 6 to 8 coats of UV finish. After a final quality control inspection, the bamboo flooring is packaged and shipped to your local flooring retailer.

Bamboo As The Eco-Friendly Choice

Bamboo flooring is rightly known as a great green flooring choice. This may not always be the case, though! It's important to select Grade A bamboo flooring. Grade A bamboo has been allowed to fully mature, so that the bamboo plant can regenerate itself for another harvest. Grade A bamboo also uses high-quality glues and finishes with low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions. If you're committed to green flooring, avoid Grade B bamboo flooring, which often uses premature bamboo and cheaper glues that will off–gas into your home.