Home > Other Options > Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo Flooring

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 3 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Wood Floor Alternatives Bamboo Flooring

If you’re looking for truly sustainable flooring, it would be hard to go past bamboo. As the fastest-growing woody plant on earth, bamboo is the ultimate renewable resource and probably one of the most environmentally-friendly types of flooring material you can install.

Hard Grass?

Bamboo is actually not a tree at all but a fast-growing grass – almost like a weed – which is replenished so quickly, it can be renewed every 5 years (compared to hardwood trees which require 30 years or more). Some species shoot up 3 feet a day and reach heights of 60 feet within the first few months of growth. In fact, if bamboo is not cut down within 5 years, it would fall of its own accord – therefore, it must be used or lost. (For once, a natural resources that’s asking to be used!) Even when it is cut and harvested, it will send out new shoots again and continue to grow as rapidly as before.

Bamboo also grows in large volumes and adapts easily to a regular cycle of harvesting every 5 to 6 years. It is prevalent all over Asia and is essentially, one of the most abundant and renewable resources on the planet. For centuries, it has been used extensively all over the Far East to make flooring, building structures and furniture as people have appreciated its extreme hardness and durability. Despite its graceful, willowing appearance as plant, it is harder and tougher than some hardwood varieties and provides a wonderful eco-friendly alternative to traditional hardwood flooring.

From Grass to Flooring…

Bamboo stalks are normally cut into strips and then boiled to remove sugars and any insects, followed frequently by drying in a kiln. The strips are then glued together to form a solid surface and in most cases, bamboo is available as a type of engineered flooring, i.e. the strips of bamboo are formed into 3 layers which help to provide additional stability and also compensate for the natural expansion properties of bamboo. This enables the flooring to be stable enough to be nailed down or glued down.

Be aware, however, that manufacturing quality can vary so always check the finish and in particular, the adhesives used to glue the bamboo strips together. Some manufacturers will actually use adhesives that contain toxic urea-formaldehyde, which totally destroys its eco-friendly flooring credentials. Generally, cheaper bamboo products are more suspect. Always check with the manufacturer or supplier to see which kind of adhesive is used and that they are complying with Europe’s E1 standard. This limits formaldehyde concentrations in materials to 0.1 parts per million (ppm).

Benefits of Bamboo Flooring

Despite not being a “proper” wood, bamboo is actually one of the hardest natural materials available and superior to traditional hardwood flooring, like oak and maple, in many ways. First of all, it has incredible tensile strength – exceeding that of several grades of steel, in fact! – and a much higher fibre rating than any hardwood, so it provides a durability that is hard to match. Secondly, it does not suffer from contraction and expansion extremes as much as hardwood, so it can often be installed in areas of high moisture with lesser problems. It also copes better than traditional hardwoods with temperature changes, showing less warping, bulging and cupping.

Like hardwood, bamboo is available in a range of beautiful natural colours, ranging from light tans to dark caramel hues that have been created by heating the bamboo strips during production (and literally “caramelising” the sugars within). Bamboo can also be pre-stained and thus available in a wide range of colours and shades.

Care and Maintenance of a Bamboo Floor

Again like hardwood, care and maintenance is relatively simple. Regular sweeping with a soft-bristled broom, cleaning with a dust mop or attention from a soft-bristled vacuum cleaner should maintain good condition. Spills should be mopped up immediately as it is unwise to allow liquids to soak into bamboo flooring. Stains should be wiped away with a damp cloth and then the area dried with a soft towel or cloth. Be careful of using oils, waxes and abrasive cleaners on the floor surface – the best thing is to follow manufacturer’s recommendations.

A Great Choice!

A material that has been deservedly gaining recognition and popularity in recent years, bamboo is an ideal choice for anyone wanting eco-friendly flooring. Not only is it truly sustainable but it also provides a unique look that matches everything from urban, contemporary to more classic, traditional styles. While it is still a relatively “exotic” and new flooring option, it can be more expensive than traditional materials but its many practical and environmental benefits make it a worthwhile investment.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Confused
    Re: Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Carpets
    Hi. We are buying a boat and wish to have non toxic carpets. Any ideas would be much appreciated. Many thanks Rose
    23 October 2017
  • Rob
    Re: Eco Friendly Underlay Options
    @steven - Have you got any damp? I think I'd be inclined to take it up and have a look first to see what the issue is. What is…
    5 October 2017
  • steven
    Re: Eco Friendly Underlay Options
    hi. wondering if you can give advice of what to do with a carpet that still smells 'yeasty' more than a year after it was put…
    4 October 2017
  • rosie
    Re: Eco-Friendly Rubber Floor Tiles
    Hi I am looking for a non slip flooring for a disabled bathroom approx 3mx4m and ensuite 2m x 1.5m, can you please advise a…
    17 July 2017
  • fuge
    Re: The Impact of Quarrying
    how can this be controlled effectively?
    11 May 2017
  • Pet Owner
    Re: Non Toxic and Sustainable Flooring Suitable for Children
    My husband insisted on having carpets upstairs for 'luxury'. Hardly necessary for what little…
    14 April 2017
  • SustainableFloors
    Re: Cork Flooring
    Pia - Your Question:Cork flooring is not as natural as is made out. A binder is used - as far as I could find out (hard to get this info from manufactu
    10 August 2016
  • Pia
    Re: Cork Flooring
    Cork flooring is not as natural as is made out. A binder is used - as far as I could find out (hard to get this info from manufacturers) usually it…
    9 August 2016
  • Omonu
    Re: The Impact of Quarrying
    Assessment of dust and noise emission and impact on neighbouring communities
    24 July 2016
  • SustainableFloors
    Re: Seagrass Flooring
    Mona - Your Question:Hi, I am an interior designer looking for Eco friendly flooring for my client. I was wondering if it possible to order…
    13 May 2016
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SustainableFloors website. Please read our Disclaimer.