I’ve been shopping for floors lately, and I’m very intrigued by the bamboo flooring products I’ve seen. Can you tell me a little bit about bamboo flooring and the differences between different bamboo flooring products?
-Jeff in Wisconsin
Bamboo flooring’s popularity has not decreased since it was introduced into the flooring market. Its versatile style and consistent look have made it a very popular flooring choice.
Bamboo is technically a grass and not a hardwood. However, it is made from processed strips of cane and compressed to be as hard and durable as a regular hardwood floor. It’s gaining popularity daily because of its “green” qualities. Bamboo is a rapidly renewing resource that matures in three years. Other green qualities include the fact that it regenerates without replanting and does not need pesticides or fertilization to grow.
There are three main styles of bamboo planks: horizontal, vertical or strand woven. With vertical bamboo flooring, the grain looks more linear and narrow where as with horizontal bamboo flooring the grain is wider and the knots of the bamboo are seen more prevalently. Strand woven bamboo, which consists of compressed strands of bamboo fiber, is the hardest and most durable bamboo flooring choice. Within the different bamboo styles there are two main colors: carbonized and non-carbonized. Non-carbonized bamboo has a yellowish natural coloring where carbonized has a warmer, rich and brownish tint to it. Because of the growing demand of bamboo, other stain colors are available such as reds, blacks, browns, turquoise and even orange, but carbonized and non-carbonized are the two main colors you will see. One thing to keep in mind is that the carbonized product is softer than the non-carbonized.
Once seen as a contemporary and modern product, bamboo is now being seen in more and more residential homes as well as commercial applications. New products include laminate with bamboo patterns for busier lifestyles and handscraped floors for more rustic and traditional looks. Mosaic tiles and parquet patterns have even been created from bamboo as an alternative to the plank style. Bamboo is not just for floors anymore! Bamboo is also being used to make cabinets and counter tops.
When shopping for a bamboo floor or bamboo laminate floor, you want a floor that has a finish with a high UV protection content. You also want to support a company that lets the product reach full maturity before being harvested. If possible, try to select a FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified bamboo floor. This ensures that your floor was harvested properly.
Like hardwood, bamboo requires minimal maintenance. Door mats should be placed at every entrance to keep dirt from scratching the finish of the floors. Regular sweeping or vacuuming should be performed as well. Spills should be cleaned up immediately and not allowed to sit and penetrate the floor. If pre-finished, the manufacturers recommended cleaner should be used. If not, a hardwood specific cleaning solution should be used rather than a generic household cleaner. Using the wrong type of cleaner can permanently damage the finish on the floor.
To protect the floors, chair protectors should be placed on the bottoms of all chairs to prevent gouging. Rubber backed mats should be avoided because the backing can cause discoloration in the floor. Furniture and other heavy objects should not be dragged across the floor. These simple steps will keep your floor beautiful and long lasting.