Bamboo Flooring: A Surprising Floor For Everyday Living

by Raymond Alexander Kukkee

 

Although most people think the amazing material known as bamboo is wood, it is actually a species of grass. Bamboo is strong enough to make high-priced fishing rods and is used to build scaffolding on high-rise construction sites hundreds of feet into the air in Asia. Bamboo shoots are used as food, and bamboo is used to make “wool” that is amazingly soft, but it is also  harvested to fabricate hardwood flooring that is incredibly hard and durable.

3 views of bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring looks fantastic!

Bamboo flooring is one of the most rapidly trending, environmentally sustainable and user-friendly materials available today. It regrows so quickly that the 40 ft. tall bamboo that was harvested to make the flooring you see at in the building center now will be mature enough to harvest again in 5 years, whereas a comparable hardwood forest in North America would take between 75 or 100 years to regenerate mature trees and marketable timber for the same purpose.

Flooring made of bamboo was only introduced into the North American market in the last decade but has found rapid acceptance as an excellent, durable product.

The manufacture of the majority of bamboo flooring is primarily two different methods. One style of bamboo flooring is known as ‘horizontal construction’, assembled in the manner of ordinary plywood . Horizontally constructed bamboo flooring is normally offered as tongue-and-groove products after the same style as T&G interlocking laminates, strips or wider planks, the difference being that the end product is solid bamboo. Bamboo laminated to other base materials is also available.

The second type of bamboo flooring is manufactured “vertically”, a process in which narrow 5/8″ strips of bamboo are glued together vertically to form boards, the equivalent of solid hardwood flooring 5/8″ x 3-3/4″ in standardized lengths. The bamboo strips are boiled to soften them, glued together under high heat and pressure, and the resulting board is dried and milled to exacting specifications taking the form of T&G (Tongue and Groove) flooring. The product is finished with stains and highly durable coatings. A number of different colors are now available including jade green and creamy natural bamboo. Interestingly, an installed floor of solid bamboo ‘feels warmer’ to walk upon than conventional hardwoods.

“Vertical bamboo tongue and groove is milled so accurately it is a dream to use, and is easily installed like any natural hardwood”

Installation of Bamboo flooring may be easily accomplished as a free-floating floor, or glued in place using the same installation process as any laminate, in the case of horizontal bamboo.
Vertical bamboo T&G is milled so accurately it is a dream to use, and is easily installed like any natural hardwood, using either ½” x 1-1/2″ crown staples or standard 1-1/2” hardwood finishing nails. Using a pneumatic type stapler or power-nailer equipped with the correct ‘footplate’ for the thickness of your chosen product saves time and work; you can rent one from any building center, and your installation will be much faster and easier. Remember to cut bamboo with a sharp carbide blade in good condition to enable nice clean cuts.

Durability and wear characteristics of bamboo flooring are excellent. Scuff and abrasion-resistance is excellent, but may vary with the quality of the product you have selected.

Warranties offered for bamboo flooring vary from product to product, but reflect it’s long-lasting, hard-wearing quality. The toughness and durability of bamboo is almost legendary. A warranty of 25 years or more may be offered, and some products even include a lifetime warranty against lamination failure.

Best applications for bamboo flooring are close to universal –this versatile product may be applied in most home locations, high traffic areas included. The one exception is any location that is constantly wet, such as in extremely damp basement areas. As with any flooring product, it’s also always smarter to solve moisture problems prior to installation of any fiber, wood or laminated flooring. If the surface of a bamboo floor is sealed, bamboo will tolerate puddled water or occasional spills of liquids on the surface without difficulty; but as with any hardwood, constant exposure to water and moisture should be avoided for optimum performance.

Bamboo flooring in North America is a relatively new product, but an excellent choice both aesthetically and environmentally. Being highly-competitively priced and offering excellent durability and long wear characteristics, make it an even a better option. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to consider some beautiful environmentally green bamboo for your next flooring renovation.

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