Bamboo Flooring – Bamboo Strand Woven and Solid Planks
$3 – $9 per sq/ft
If you’re looking for something unique, beautiful and durable for your home or office, cork flooring is worth considering. Along with its durability and popularity cork floors are very Eco-friendly, made from materials that are quickly renewed.
Known for its quick growth and sustainability, bamboo has seen a surge of interest in recent year as more and more consumers look to find environmentally friendly solutions for their homes.
This increased interest has also led to more manufacturers coming into the market and offering a wide range of bamboo products, including flooring, with styles that offer a genuinely interesting alternative to hardwood.
But is bamboo the best option for your home flooring project? Do its green credentials check out, or is it all hype? And what other factors do you need to consider in order to choose bamboo flooring that will be both durable and a good investment?
Here at Home Flooring Pros we will set out all the information you need in one place, in this bamboo flooring guide we’ll cover all these questions and more, including:
Buying Guide: We’ll look at how bamboo flooring is made, what the main styles and types of bamboo flooring are, and how to ensure you buy good quality bamboo flooring; we’ll also outline the pros and cons so to help you decide if bamboo is a good choice for your home.
Price Guide: Here we give you up to date information on the cost of bamboo flooring, as well as the additional costs you’ll need to factor in and some ways that you can save money when buying bamboo flooring.
Installation Guide: Find out here if bamboo flooring installation is a DIY job or something best left to the pros, as well as any other useful information for ensuring best quality bamboo flooring installation.
Cleaning and Maintenance: To finish, we’ll detail the Home Flooring Pros tips for cleaning and maintaining bamboo floor to make sure it stays looking great for a long time.
BAMBOO FLOORING BUYING GUIDE
What is bamboo flooring made of?
Bamboo is a member of the grass family and the species used in flooring is cultivated mostly in southern China groves, but it can be found throughout Asia.
But make no mistake, this grass is as hard as nails and has been used for centuries in Asia as a primary construction material.
It is also one of the fastest growing plants on Earth. Bamboo plants grow to maturity in just 3-7 years. Compare that with hardwoods that take 25-100 years to reach the age when they can be harvested for wood! In addition, the root of the bamboo plant is left in the ground to begin growing again the next season.
Is bamboo considered environmentally friendly?
It is the sustainability aspect of the bamboo plant’s life cycle that gives bamboo its main eco-friendly credentials. The fact that the plant grows abundantly and re-grows quickly, without having to pull the roots right out of the land is good news for plantation owners.
Other great aspects of bamboo are that typically it does not need much water or fertilizer and its strong plant roots help against landslides.
It is also claimed that the dense and leafy bamboo plantations allow it to capture more carbon dioxide than many trees and generate a lot more oxygen. Note though, that reliable science and reporting for this claim is in short supply.
There is also that fact that bamboo production is mainly in China and Asia, so getting the product to consumers around the world uses considerable amount of carbon fuels.
There is also the less-than green factor of the chemicals and adhesives that are needed to turn bamboo stalks into bamboo flooring; and because managed bamboo plantations are a monoculture, they do not provide the same kind of biodiversity that you’ll see in a typical hardwood forest.
So, bamboo has so definite great eco-friendly aspects – especially for its sustainability; but it is not necessarily the magic green bullet that will save the planet!
How is bamboo flooring made?
To make bamboo into flooring, the outer layer of the plant stalk is removed, and the stalks is then cut into strips. These strips are then boiled in boric acid or mime to remove the sugars and starch.
The strips are dried and are usually the natural bamboo color of light tan at this point. But bamboo can also be stained in many different shades and tones too. Heat and pressure treatments that cause carbonization (often referred to as caramelized or spiced bamboo) produces a darker tone prior to staining.
The final process is to turn the strips into planks by using adhesives to laminate several strips together. These days most manufacturers use eco-friendly adhesives, but you should check with the dealer or manufacturer before buying if this is a concern for you.
Planks are then usually treated with either a UV resistant anti-scratch aluminum oxide coating or a UV resistant polyurethane finish.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN TYPES OF BAMBOO FLOOR?
In the current flooring market, you’ll find two types of bamboo flooring: solid and engineered.
- Solid bamboo flooring is made entirely out of bamboo strips adhered into planks, as described above. The thin strips of bamboo are glued together in wide boards and then cut to plank size.
Depending on the way the bamboo strips are oriented, it is said to be either flat grain or vertical grain. Flat grain is sometimes called horizontal grain and it shows more of the interior of the bamboo, including growth spurts often called knuckles. For a cleaner look, you might prefer vertical grain bamboo flooring.
A further option is for strand woven bamboo, where rather than using strips of bamboo, it is bamboo fiber that is used – effectively woven together – before being adhered. Visually this creates a more “busy” pattern, but technically it is stronger than flat grain or vertical grain bamboo planks.
- Engineered bamboo is made by combining a top wear layer of solid bamboo adhered to layers of composite wood product, much like engineered hardwood planks. The advantage of engineered bamboo is greater stability, and it is usually easier to install and allows for installation in areas such as bathrooms.
Note also that in terms of aesthetic styles there is a relatively large range, going from linear, closely packed grains that goes marvelously with minimalist and modernist decor, to a much more dramatic “tiger” look (where carbonized and natural bamboo are combined to great effect).
Is bamboo flooring durable?
If you go with a good quality, mid to top end price range bamboo flooring, then you are likely to get a floor that is more durable than many hardwoods. Generally speaking, strand bamboo flooring has a Janka hardness rating of around over 4500, well above white oak (1300), maple (1450) or mahogany (2200).
This level of hardness means that bamboo flooring can withstand a lot of traffic, though households with lots of boisterous kids or pets should still take necessary measures to protect high traffic areas (such as doormats, rugs etc).
How long your bamboo flooring lasts will also depend on how well it is installed. the number one reason for bamboo flooring failure is poor installation. See below for more details about bamboo installation.
Can I buy bamboo look flooring alternatives?
If you want the look of bamboo but don’t want to use actual bamboo flooring then you can turn to alternatives like vinyl and laminate flooring that looks like bamboo. Real bamboo flooring might be out of your price range or may not be practical for your home, whatever the reason you can find vinyl or laminate alternatives that may be cheaper and more durable.
So, what makes bamboo a great choice for flooring?
We’ve already mentioned that bamboo is strong and durable, and that it has decent environmentally friendly credentials. It’s also fairly easy to keep clean and relatively affordable (see below for more details about cost and maintenance).
But for us at Home Flooring Pros, one of the best reasons for choosing bamboo is that it has a unique look. It’s a great alternative to hardwood flooring if you’re looking for something just a bit different but not completely “out there”.
BAMBOO FLOORING IDEAS AND PHOTOS
Head over to our Bamboo Flooring Pinterest Board for lots of cork floor ideas and images:
BUYING GUIDE SUMMARY
In summary here is a list of the pros and cons of bamboo flooring:
- Interesting aesthetic: Bamboo has an appearance like wood, but its inherent linear pattern is quite different from any hardwood flooring. There are also enough different types of bamboo flooring types and styles to offer plenty of choices according to your personal décor.
- Durability: Bamboo is one of the hardest natural flooring products on the market, and good quality bamboo flooring can last for decades.
- Sustainable: Bamboo grows abundantly, is renewable and does not need much water or fertilizer to grow. When bamboo is harvested, the stalk remains planted, and the plant regrows – it is naturally self-renewing!
- Easy maintenance: Good bamboo flooring that has been properly sealed required little upkeep – regular vacuuming and damp-mopping is sufficient.
- Mid-range cost: Bamboo is relatively affordable, with an average price of $4 per square foot.
- DIY installation possible: Most bamboo flooring can be installed by proficient DIY-enthusiasts.
- Refinishing possible: Some bamboo flooring can be refinished, if necessary; but be sure to check with the manufacturer.
- Can be installed everywhere: We would recommend engineered bamboo for below grade and bathroom / utility room installation; solid bamboo is best suited for above grade and “dry” rooms.
- Not that popular: The unique look of bamboo flooring is not to everyone’s taste. If you’re looking for a quick return on a property development, then bamboo might not be the best choice as it is not as popular as more traditional hardwood flooring.
- Overstated eco-credentials: Much is made of how sustainable bamboo is. But whilst it is indisputable that bamboo grows quickly, making it into flooring requires chemicals and adhesives and transporting it from Asia to the US market uses a lot more carbon than domestic hardwood flooring.
BAMBOO FLOORING PRICES
Bamboo flooring retails at an average price of about $4.50 – $5.50 per square foot, within a range of between $3-$9 per square foot. Here’s a deep dive into bamboo flooring prices.
The best bamboo flooring brands at the top end of the price bracket bamboo flooring are Plyboo and Teragren; whilst Ambient Bamboo Floors, Cali Bamboo, Eco-Fusion, US Floors, and Home Legend (available at the Home Depot) offer good quality, budget and mid-range bamboo floors.
As with all flooring, shop around and get samples before making any decisions!
Bamboo Flooring VS Hardwood, Natural Stone and Other Flooring
Bamboo flooring is firmly in the mid-range for flooring costs and compares quite favorably in terms of price against most read hardwood or wood-look flooring products. Top quality bamboo flooring tends to be a lot cheaper than top of the range solid hardwood flooring, whilst often being the more durable option!
Here’s a useful comparison guide for different flooring materials (NOTE, prices do not include installation).
|TYPE OF FLOORING||PRICE RANGE PER SQUARE FOOT|
|Bamboo||$3 – $9|
|Carpet (wall to wall)||$1 – $20|
|Ceramic tile||$0.50 – $15|
|Concrete||$0.60 – $2|
|Cork||$3 – $12|
|Hardwood – solid||$1 – $18|
|Hardwood – engineered||$3 – $16|
|Laminate||$0.70 – $5|
|Linoleum||$3 – $8|
|Natural stone – slate||$3 – $15|
|Natural stone – marble (basic range)||$4 – $15|
|Natural stone – marble (top range)||$10 – $45|
|Rubber||$1 – $15|
|Vinyl Sheet||$0.60 – $5|
|Luxury vinyl tile (LVT)||$1 – $7|
|Composite vinyl (aka rigid core, WPC / SPC)||$2 – $12|
INSTALLATION COSTS FOR BAMBOO FLOORING
You can expect to pay around $3 per square foot for the basic installation of bamboo flooring.
However, the overall price for bamboo flooring installation will depend on several factors, such as the quality and type of subfloor, whether the existing floor needs to be removed, and if appliances or non-removeable fittings need to be considered.
We have a much more detailed article about bamboo flooring installation costs here.
Other factors that will affect your bamboo flooring installation quote are the experience and reputation of the contractors you choose. The Home Flooring Pros advice is to get several detailed quotes and references before choosing the right contractor for your flooring project.
Also, in our experience, if you think one contractor will do a better job but his or her estimate is higher than another’s, ask if the contractor will meet the competitor’s price, or at least come closer to it. Be prepared to show the contractor the written estimate of the competitor. Keep in mind that the better contractor might charge more because of the superior workmanship you’ll receive. In other words, if you want the job done right, it might be worth paying a bit extra.
What else can I do to save money on bamboo flooring?
As well as shopping around for best value contractor quotes, you can also save money on any flooring project by choosing key jobs that often don’t need to be done by a pro.
These include preparing the room by removing old floors, trims and doors; doing any work required to prep your subfloor (for example making sure it is level, repairing if necessary; and ensuring the subfloor is clean and dry before work commences.)
BAMBOO FLOORING INSTALLATION
How you install your bamboo flooring will depend on its installation profile: some manufacturers offer glue down or nail down bamboo floors, whilst others offer engineered bamboo flooring with click lock profiles that your install as a floating floor.
Be sure to understand which type of installation the bamboo flooring requires and read up on the manufacturers product notes to be sure that the installation type is suitable for your subfloor AND the room its going in (for example, glue down flooring is not suitable for basements; nail down flooring cannot be installed on a concrete subfloor).
If you do not find the information you need regarding the exact installation process to use and its suitability for your project, then DO NOT buy that bamboo. Reputable flooring retailers and manufacturers will always give you the best advice and you should follow it to the letter to avoid voiding the warranty.
Is installing bamboo flooring a DIY job?
If you a proficient DIYer, you can install bamboo floor yourself. We would recommend opting for the click lock version for a DIY job as it is a little easier.
Can I install bamboo flooring in the bathroom or basement? What about radiant heating?
Yes, but be careful to choose only engineered bamboo flooring for bathroom or basement installations as they will withstand humidity better; and for basements, always use a floating floor installation method.
Engineered bamboo can also be installed over radiant heating systems as a floating floor.
Does bamboo flooring need to be acclimated before installation?
Yes. Check specific acclimation details with the manufacturer, but most bamboo flooring must be acclimated in the room where it is to be installed for at least 72 hours.
How do I prep the subfloor for bamboo flooring installation?
Bamboo can be glued onto concrete, wood and plywood subfloors; it can also be laid as a floating floor over most resilient flooring such as vinyl, linoleum or tile.
No matter what your subfloor is made of, for best results you should ensure that the subfloor is completely clean and dry. Subfloors must also be level so you should consider sanding wooden subfloors, and any cracks or holes in concrete subfloors should be patched up.
Is bamboo flooring waterproof?
Bamboo flooring isn’t waterproof, but it is more versatile than solid hardwood. Most bamboo flooring planks are engineered, which helps to ward off shrinking or swelling, and well sealed bamboo won’t absorb water. This makes bamboo and reasonable choice for kitchens or basements.
What else do I need to know about bamboo flooring installation?
Bamboo has a natural tendency to contract and expand in humid environments, so it is very important not only to acclimates your bamboo planks during installation (see above) but also to maintain relative humidity in your home to between 30-60%.
Investing in a basic hygrometer, which are readily available from many flooring and household goods retailers, is a good idea to keep track of humidity levels in your home.
BAMBOO FLOORING CLEANING & MAINTENANCE
One of the advantages of bamboo flooring is that it is easy to maintain:
- Regularly sweep with a soft bristle broom, or vacuum with the vacuum cleaner set for hard flooring.
- Follow up with a damp (but not sopping wet) mop with good quality floor cleaner, ideally the one recommended by your flooring’s manufacturer.
- Do clean up spills as soon as possible.
- Do not apply wax or use abrasive cleaning products or those containing mineral spirits as they will damage the finish of your flooring.
- Never use steam floor cleaner on bamboo flooring.
What other steps can I take to keep my bamboo flooring looking good for longer?
Bamboo is quite a hard type of flooring, but that does not mean that you should ignore basic flooring maintenance tips. These measures will lower the risk of scratches and dents in your floor:
- Install door mats at entrances to stop dirt and grit tracking into your home and consider adding rugs in high traffic areas for a layer of protection.
- Consider implementing a no-shoe policy in your home or offer guests slippers – high heels and some rubber soles can cause dents and scuffs.
- Add felt pads to the feet of all your furniture; and be extra careful when moving heavy items around your home.
- If your bamboo flooring does not have an UV protective finish, then be sure to keep window blinds down, as direct sunlight will cause discoloration.
Does bamboo flooring need to be refinished?
Maybe. If your bamboo flooring has a polyurethane finish, then it may over time show wear and begin to look dull. Depending on the type of bamboo flooring, you may be able to refinish it, by sanding it back gently and then reapplying a new urethane coating. Check with the manufacturer for further details. We would recommend hiring a pro to refinish your flooring.