Don’t be Bamboozled by Bamboo: The Pros and Cons of Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo, a natural surface covering that shares many properties with hardwood flooring, is the current darling of interior decorators and interior designers. Produced from a sturdy, renewable type of grass, bamboo flooring is a trendy, eco-chic choice that lends homes elegant, unique looks. However, there’s a lot to consider before you decide to make the switch to bamboo flooring. To shed some professional insight into your next flooring investment, we’ve compiled a brief rundown of bamboo flooring’s benefits and drawbacks.

On the ecological front, bamboo is a tough nut to crack. On the plus side, it’s a highly renewable resource that can grow to maturity in three to seven years—much faster than hardwood trees, which typically take upwards of twenty years to do the same. However, many manufacturers use non-earth-friendly, formaldehyde-based glues and finishes to fashion this grass into flooring. Plus, the process of shipping bamboo from where it’s most often grown—China—into places like Wilmington, NC, requires considerable amounts of energy.

Fortunately, the popularity of bamboo flooring means that many U.S.-based distributors have established more stringent guidelines for the products they sell. Several now require bamboo flooring to feature water-based finishes, and to be manufactured via formaldehyde-free processing. If you’re in the market for bamboo flooring, it’s always wise to check with the manufacturer and ensure that you’re purchasing formaldehyde-free, fair trade goods.

Bamboo flooring is priced similarly to most hardwood flooring. Keep in mind, a cheap floor will yield cheap results. As of this writing, no independent system exists to rate the quality of bamboo materials. This makes it imperative to find a quality, reputable flooring dealer—such as Crystal Carpet & Flooring Company. After all, a reputable dealer will be aware of the optimal ways to harvest, process, and store bamboo.

Cheap bamboo has typically been prematurely harvested—sometimes at as early as three months! This does not allow the bamboo to properly harden, and produces soft, non-durable floors.  As the old saying goes, if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is!  A five-to seven-year harvest cycle is ideal.

Over time, know that bamboo flooring tends to become discolored, scratched, and/or marred. Yes, it is indeed susceptible to high heels, pet claws, and furniture legs. Small grit and tiny particles of sand or dirt can also scratch bamboo flooring. Luckily, its surface can be professionally refinished to restore its fresh, sharp look by sanding it down and reapplying a finishing coat.

The bamboo flooring of today is available in various colors and patterns. However, those bamboo planks that are darker in color are generally also softer and less durable. This is because the carbonization process used to color wood also tends to weaken its structure. However, natural, un-carbonized bamboo flooring is relatively hard and durable. It’s even slightly more resistant to water damage, stains, and warping than are hardwood materials. It’s also fairly easy to maintain—regular sweeping and vacuuming are all that’s required to eradicate small-particle debris. You can occasionally damp-mop and deep-clean using a non-wax, non-alkaline, hardwood or bamboo floor cleanser.

As with hardwood flooring, moisture in the air can cause floor planks to plump—something to keep in mind when scheduling an installation in the humid beach climates of Carolina Beach, NC, and Wrightsville Beach, NC! Conversely, installing when it’s too dry out can cause planks to shrink. In either case, cracks in the bamboo flooring can result.

Now that we’ve shared some of the pros and cons of bamboo flooring, you can test your knowledge with this quiz. Or, visit our showroom to ask one of our experts for more information on bamboo flooring.