Types of Bamboo Floors

There are many styles of bamboo floors. Some varieties are better than others. Considering bamboo floors? Read this article to learn more.

Cheap Varieties of Bamboo Flooring

If you go with a lower cost bamboo, there is a good chance that it will discolor and turn yellow relatively quickly. The lower cost bamboo floors are also prone to scratches easily. Because it lacks grain and typically has a glossy finish, scratches show up extremely clearly.

The Hardness Claim

Manufacturers sell bamboo on its supposed hardness. They use aluminum oxide, which is the hardest finish possible. They think that by using the most durable finish, the bamboo itself becomes stronger.

Manufacturers sell bamboo claiming that it is a hard, long-lasting product. No matter how hard the finish, if the “wood” is soft, it will not make the slightest difference. Aluminum oxide will never stand up to the softness of the bamboo product.

It will not strengthen bamboo, no matter what the manufacturers tell you. Even if they apply seven or ten coats of aluminum oxide, they are just trying to compensate for a lower quality, soft floor covering.

Young Bamboo Plants Make Weak Floors

The cheaper varieties of bamboo are not always processed the way they are supposed to be. These bamboo plants are also harvested when they are too immature to make good quality floors.

The younger the bamboo, the softer the floor is going to be. Young bamboo retains a lot of water. If the floor product is not dried properly, it will be prone to shrinking and warping. Also, if bamboo is not treated within three days of being cut, it will mold. This also can make for dull flooring.

Far too often, the bamboo is produced quickly and cheaply. As there is no regulation on how bamboo is produced and processed, you have to be careful because you probably won’t know what you are getting!

Poisonous Glues

Another thing to be aware of with bamboo flooring is the glue. The glue that most of the bamboo manufacturers use is a urea formaldehyde resin. Most bamboo floors will emit gas. This is a known carcinogen and a serious air pollutant.

Many people get headaches and sometimes even nosebleeds from the fumes that bamboo floors emit. This is really toxic stuff. Some companies are within the American health standards but many companies are not.

Some manufacturers sell formaldehyde-free bamboo flooring at a higher cost. If you are going to go with this option, check it out. Make sure that it really is formaldehyde-free. Your health may be compromised if you don’t do your research.

Carbonized Bamboo Floors

These are the dark floors that people love because of how they look. Carbonized bamboo is a flooring that has a carbonized finish. It has a dark, amber color. It is produced through a process called carbonization. The longer this process takes, the darker and softer the product will turn out.

The traditional way to change the color of bamboo is with heat (carbonization). The sugar contents in the fiber make the bamboo darken when they are pressure heated.

Pressure heating weakens the bamboo significantly. If you want long-lasting floors, carbonized bamboo is definitely not your answer!

There are two varieties of carbonized bamboo flooring; vertical carbonized bamboo flooring and horizontal bamboo flooring. The difference in these two varieties is their alignment.

Carbonized bamboo flooring is not designed for high traffic areas like shopping centers or office buildings. These floors are suited only for residential use.

Many people know that carbonized bamboo flooring is not durable but they still want dark bamboo. Floor manufacturers are coming out with a stained natural bamboo floor variety that is darker. Consumers choose carbonized bamboo flooring for its darker color.

The majority of contractors (who are honest!) will advise against carbonized bamboo flooring simply because it is not strong or long-lasting.

Strand Woven Bamboo Floors

If you decide to go with bamboo flooring, there are some varieties that are better.

Many people who have strand woven bamboo floors are happy with them. Strand woven bamboo flooring complies with European standards of quality because most of the equipment comes from Germany. (This doesn’t mean that how and where the bamboo is grown for this type of flooring complies with American and European standards.)

Strand woven bamboo floors are produced by stripping young Moso or Mao bamboo stalks. This particular part of the process is environmentally friendly because 100% of the harvested stalk is used. There is zero waste.

The stalks are boiled in a water and boric acid solution. This removes sugars from the stalks which is necessary because sugars attract termites. This boiling process also stops the growth of fungus and mold. Any insects in the bamboo will be removed. Often, copper sulfate is used to kill any micro-organisms. This stuff is incredibly toxic.

Then the strips are dried and woven with an extremely low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) plasticizer or glue. The woven strand is crushed in a 2000-ton heat press and now becomes a strand woven board. This strand woven board is then milled in a laser-guided mill that accurately cuts each board.

Every board you receive in your carton should be uniform. After the boards are milled, they are sanded and coated with an aluminum oxide finish.

Strand woven bamboo is different than other bamboo flooring because it is a one-piece board. A lot of the other stuff is produced by cold-gluing small bamboo strips together. It is tongue and groove. Strand woven bamboo flooring can be installed like any hardwood floor. It is much stronger than other bamboo flooring types. Strand woven bamboo flooring is easy to refinish.

Like all bamboo though, it emits formaldehyde, even if the levels might be slightly lower. Strand bamboo currently uses phenol formaldehyde adhesive and there is no other alternative. It is known to splinter on the sides of the boards.

Final Considerations

Hardwood floors will always outlast bamboo floors if cared for properly. They have been around forever. Usually, you know what you are getting when you get a hardwood floor!

Consider the health risk especially if you have kids with the formaldehyde. Hopefully you will stick to good, old hardwood floors!

If you really want a bamboo floor, strand woven is your best choice.