Bamboo flooring is hailed as one of the best sustainable flooring ideas of the century. Like every kind of flooring, there are things both good and bad about it and it is important to be aware of them to make an informed decision. Bamboo has all the qualities of a normal hardwood floor, except that it is a type of grass and more resilient in growing back when cut down – a quality that makes it a sustainable choice.
Features and Types
There are various types of bamboo floorings available in the market and their characteristics vary depending on how they are processed and used. One such variety is solid bamboo flooring, a slightly engineered bamboo planks that are created by fusing together strands and pieces of bamboo. Solid bamboo is made by either fusing the strands horizontally, which gives a more bamboo like look with knuckles at regular intervals, or by fusing the strands vertically, which gives an aligned striped look.
Another variety is strand woven bamboo. It is made by actually weaving the bamboo strands which gives it a very uniform look and makes it much harder than vertical or horizontal floorings. To give the flooring color the bamboo is either carbonized for a darker color, mixed with carbonized fibers – tiger bamboo, or stained. Other variants include engineered ones which consist of solid bamboo top layer and a mixture of other wood below that.
Before beginning the installation the boards need to be put in the room they would be used in for a several days. This helps them change according to the room’s temperature and humidity levels and stops them from warping or shrinking after they are laid down. The flooring can be done on almost all kinds of subfloors – wood, vinyl, concrete or plywood. The actual installation of bamboo flooring is done in any of the three ways – nailing onto the subfloor, usually wooden, using nails or staples; gluing onto the subfloor using non-water based glues; click-on, snap-lock or floating the boards by leaving a little bit of room for expansion of the wood.
Advantages and Problems Associated with Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo is, perhaps, one of the most sustainable hardwood flooring material taking about 3 to 5 years to reach its full maturity and can then be harvested to manufacture boards. So you can rest assured that the environmental impact is comparatively less than hardwood flooring. It is also easy to maintain and clean, requiring no special treatment other than the usual care one would take for wood flooring. It is less susceptible to wetness and doesn’t warp as much, durable, comes in different styles and can be refinished when required. The darker colored bamboo, though, is slightly softer compared to natural bamboo because of the carbonizing process required to change color. The costs involved are almost similar to that of any normal wood flooring and what’s better is that it gives peace of mind to the environmentally conscious ones. However, there are also concerns about forests being cut down for making bamboo plantations and hence the environmental impact is slightly ambiguous.