Hardwood flooring has always been popular because it increases the value of your home, is easy to take care of and is great for people with allergies. But it is on the expensive side and hence, a cheaper alternative that is also popular in “Green” buildings, namely Bamboo flooring is favoured. This is an immensely durable, versatile, sustainable and price-competitive form of hardwood flooring. It is a ‘Green’ favourite because it can be replenished very fast. Once the bamboo stalk is cut, the root remains in the ground and the stalk re-grows back to a mature height by 4 or 5 years. That’s incredibly fast, considering an oak takes more than 120 years to be harvested for wood!
So, what are the types of bamboo flooring? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using bamboo flooring? Where is bamboo flooring preferably used? As an Architect, I have explained all there is to know about bamboo flooring under the following headings:
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF BAMBOO FLOORING?
There are two types of wood floors available on the market today: Solid and Engineered. While the look of these two kinds of bamboo flooring is similar, there are some differences regarding the strength of bamboo flooring.
SOLID BAMBOO FLOORING: Bamboo floor planks are manufactured by adhering the bamboo strips together using heat, pressure, and a resin based adhesive. Solid bamboo can only be nailed or glued on the subfloor. Three unique styles are available based on the manner in which the strips are glued together.
- Horizontal: Three layers of Bamboo strips are placed on top of one another and pressed together on a board. This creates a traditional “knuckles” or nodes look which resembles the look of bamboo grass.
- Vertical: Bamboo strips are turned on their side and glued and pressed together on a board. This gives a much more linear look and are less durable than the layered, horizontal board.
- Woven or stranded: Instead of gluing strips of bamboo together in a uniform way, strands of bamboo fibers are compressed under intense pressure to form the floorboards. The woven look of bamboo flooring is very non-traditional but the most durable due to the intense pressure used to create it.
ENGINEERED BAMBOO FLOORING: consists of bamboo strips (usually 1/8”) on top of the plank, and is layered with other types of wood underneath. Engineered bamboo is thought to be stronger than solid bamboo because of the blending of woods. It can be nailed, glued, or floated to the sub-floors.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BAMBOO FLOORING?
- Ecologically Friendly: Bamboo is made from natural vegetation and is a renewable resource that re-grows very fast compared to timber.
- Natural Material: People are becoming more ecologically conscious and are seeking materials that focus on individual personality and natural evolution.
- Easy Maintenance: Bamboo is relatively easy to maintain. Just needs vacuuming and damp mopping.
- Water Resistant: This material is slightly more resistant to water damage, stains, and warping than hardwood materials.
- Durability: Certain types of bamboo can be extremely strong, hard, and durable, almost as durable as oak.
- High abrasion resistance: Bamboo can resist abrasion
- Low allergenic: Bamboo is non-allergenic compared to Carpet.
- Style: Bamboo is a trendy flooring material that has a contemporary sensibility. The beautiful blond tone with natural striations of the bamboo goes well with any decorating style. It can also be dyed into many colors.
- Refinishing: Over time bamboo floors may become discolored, scratched, or marred. But the surface of this material can be refinished and sanded down to give it a fresh new look.
- Easy to repair: Damaged boards can be replaced without contrasting with surrounding boards.
Price: Bamboo is priced a little less than most hardwood floors.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF BAMBOO FLOORING?
- Emission of VOC’s: Bamboo floor planks are manufactured by adhering the pieces together using heat, pressure, and a resin based adhesive which releases volatile organic chemicals into the air over time.
- Scratches: It is impossible to keep a Bamboo floor perfect if it is used regularly as it takes scratches from high heels, pet claws, and furniture legs.
- Fades: Bamboo darkens or fades when exposed to direct sunlight.
- Water Damage: Though bamboo is more resistant to water damage than hardwood, excessive moisture will cause it to warp or will allow mold to grow.
- Humidity: In very humid areas, the moisture in the air can cause the floor planks to plump and in dry environment, the planks can shrink.
- Lack of a Grading System: There is no grading system for bamboo to gauge the quality of the planks you are purchasing.
- Soft: Bamboo planks that are darker in color are generally softer because the carbonization process (boiling) weakens it structurally.
- Environmentally Ambiguous: There are a number of environmental concerns regarding bamboo because the adhesive can contribute to the toxicity of an interior space and forests are being replaces with bamboo fields for commercial purposes.
WHERE IS BAMBOO FLOORING BEST SUITED?
Bamboo flooring is an environmentally friendly option, cheaper than most hardwood, goes well with contemporary interiors and is durable. Therefore it can be used in almost every room in a home and is popular in contemporary homes. But it takes scratches and cannot withstand high humidity or dryness, due to which it is not used in bathrooms, saunas and verandahs. A better option is Engineered wood.
For information on other flooring options, go to:
- Flooring | Natural Material Options
- Flooring | Man-made Material Options
- Flooring | Resilient Material Options
In order to get a rough idea of the suitability of a particular flooring for your requirement and to make a fair comparison of the different types of flooring, refer to an Architect’s rating of the various kinds of flooring on my blog: House construction in India
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