Bamboo Flooring: Ecological Alternative to Hardwood Floors

Bamboo flooring is wood flooring made from the Asian bamboo. Bamboo is the largest member of the grass family. It grows into a very hard tree-like stalk in only three to six years. The stalks are extremely hard and the plants are extremely hardy. Bamboo flooring is an alternative to conventional hardwood that makes sense for the environment. Because it is so quick growing and needs so little in the way of pesticides and fertilizer, bamboo flooring is becoming the hardwood of the future.

Most manufacturers of bamboo flooring offer a light natural colored version as well as a darker amber hued version that has been heated and carbonized. Some companies also make bamboo flooring in colors such as walnut, cherry, and “espresso.” Most of the bamboo used in bamboo flooring is harvested from the so called “bamboo sea” in the province of Hunan in south China. This area contains vast forests of bamboo. Even though the materials are grown in China, bamboo flooring is becoming more widely available in the US all the time.

Bamboo Choices

Bamboo flooring is made by slicing the tubular stalks of mature bamboo into strips which are boiled to remove starch and then laminated into boards similar to standard hardwood flooring. Formed into 3/8 inch thick strips, it installs exactly like hardwoods, except it is too hard to use a standard flooring nailer. Current prices for bamboo flooring run between $4 and $8 per square foot.

There are several style decisions to make if choosing bamboo flooring. One is between vertical grain or flat grain. The vertical grain looks very much like traditional wood flooring, while the flat grain has visible joints that resemble bamboo. Wide plank or narrow plank, and conventional planks or floating bamboo flooring are other choices to make. The floating flooring is made so that it locks in place, requiring no adhesives.

Bamboo flooring is produced with a protective finish, but the homeowner might want to sand them down and refinish them upon installation. The bamboo flooring is reported to have somewhat more texture than conventional hardwood flooring. All in all, for a hard durable floor with a great natural look and a gentle impact on the earth, bamboo flooring is the way to go when in the market for a new floor.