Everything You Should Know about Bamboo Flooring

bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring is not new in the market. It has been around for about two decades. Over the last few years, advances in the manufacturing process have increased its performance and appearance, leading to a growth in the market demand. Their affordability style and weight also add to the growing popularity.

Bamboo hardwood flooring has an exotic appearance and the same characteristics as natural bamboo. This article will look at everything you should know about this flooring option, such as its pros and cons, types, myths, and truths. Let’s get started.

What are the Bamboo Flooring Planks & Grains?

Bamboo wood flooring comes from bamboo grass, mainly found in China and other parts of Asia. It is becoming one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. It is extensively processed to make boards that you can use for flooring. Commonly, it is thought of as a hardwood type because:

  • It resembles hardwood.
  • The flooring can be made into either engineered or solid product
  • It comes in the same sized planks
  • Staining it can achieve different aesthetics

Though there are differences, bamboo floor functions the same way as wood flooring, and we will look at these similarities and differences later. Notably, there are three types of bamboo flooring grain. These are:

  • Classic horizontal or flat grain
  • Vertical, also known as end grain and
  • Strand-woven, also known as stranded or strand

Classic Horizontal or Flat Grain

Manufacturers make this type of grain by laminating and layering strips of bamboo canes with the skin side facing up, forming a plank. This type of grain maximizes the use of the stalk, where it shows off the knuckles or nodes, giving it a classic bamboo look. You can find it in its natural form or stained, carbonized for many colors. These offset layers add strength to this solid bamboo flooring.

Vertical Bamboo Floors

It is a commonly fitted tongue-and-groove where the bamboo strips are soaked in adhesive. Then, the cut edges face up and are joined together, giving it a linear look on the surface. You are less likely to see the bamboo nodes. This form of grain can be more durable and damage-resistant than the horizontal one. However, vertical bamboo flooring is not very widely available.

Strand-Woven Bamboo Flooring

This type of grain does not look like natural bamboo. It imitates exotic hardwoods and traditional wood planks. Manufacturers make this type of flooring by shredding bamboo canes into strips. Then, they categorize them by color, where they then carbonize some in large ovens making a dark color coffee.

The next steps involve mixing the shreds and strips with resins and binders and pressing them under high pressure and temperatures. Then, they are cured in kilns, with the final material being used to make strand woven bamboo flooring.

Types of Bamboo Flooring

If you are thinking of investing in bamboo flooring, you also need to know the various types you find in the market. Bamboo floors are similar to hardwood wood planks in construction and the installation process. They come in both solid and engineered forms. Solid bamboo comes from layers or strips of bamboo being glued together. Engineered bamboo flooring comes from bonding a thin bamboo top layer to a plywood core or hi-density fireboard. Let’s look at the main types of bamboo flooring in detail.

Solid Strand Bamboo – Tongue and Groove

Solid strand bamboo flooring is harder than regular wooden flooring. It’s solid wood throughout. You can find this form in various finishes, which include brushed, flat, and hand-scraped. As such, it is possible to find one that suits your individual style. When installing solid strand bamboo, you can glue it down to a wooden subfloor or nailed it down to a wooden one.

Engineered Stand Bamboo- Click Lock

It is also harder than normal wood flooring and safe to use around the home. The wear layer is renewable and has a higher dimension than solid flooring. If the wear is at least 2mm, you can refinish the flooring at least two times, increasing its lifespan. It also has an easy installation process. However, it is not suitable for environments with high humidity throughout the year.

Engineered Strand Bamboo -Tongue and Groove

This type of engineered strand bamboo offers an easy installation process, providing dimensional stability. It comes from renewable sources, making it environmentally friendly. If you choose the floating installation method, apply a bead of glue on the inside of the groove for each plank.

Solid Strand Bamboo – Click Lock

This natural bamboo flooring comes in different finishes, and it is three times harder than traditional wood flooring. It is also made from renewable plants that regrow fully in five years. With the click-lock option, it is easy to install. It is mostly suitable for indoors, and the humidity is relatively stable throughout the year.

Profile Types of Bamboo Flooring

In the previous headline, we talked about click-lock and tongue-lock. Let us look at these profile types in depth.

Tongue and Groove

It is a traditional way of fitting wooden or bamboo flooring. Each plank of the bamboo comes with a long and short side. The short side has a tongue, and the long one a groove. When installing bamboo planks with these features, you fit the tongues together with the grooves. If you want to float the tongue and groove, glue the tongues and grooves together, leaving it loose over the subflooring.

However, when fixing it on the flooring underlayment, you need to use a flooring adhesive to glue the planks to the subfloor. You can find this tongue and groove in horizontal, vertical, and strand woven bamboo.

Click fitting bamboo

Click lock allows the bamboo planks to lock together. You can loose lay the flooring on a subfloor or use an adhesive to glue it down. You can only find click fitting bamboo in strand woven bamboo.  

Bamboo Finish Options

Floor finishing options are some of the things that we consider when choosing a flooring option. Many homeowners want a timeless finish yet one that suits their individual style. Staining or carbonizing the bamboo planks during manufacturing determines their color. Finishing also protects the bamboo from wear and tear. Below are some of the finishes you can find when choosing bamboo flooring.

Distressed Bamboo Flooring

This type of finish gives the bamboo planks a textured surface. The manufacturers brush the planks by hand using a wire brush, creating a distressed and rustic appearance. After brushing, they apply a matt lacquer which offers protection against potential surface damage.

Unfinished

You can order unfinished bamboo wood flooring from factories. These are unstained or textured. You can refinish these types of wood. However, finishing on-site may fail to offer the necessary longevity as factory-finished planks.

Matt Lacquered Bamboo Flooring

This type of plank means it has been protected while retaining its natural appearance. The lacquer does not change the planks’ color, texture, or appearance. It can, however, contain UV protection and anti-slip properties.

Satin-Matt Lacquered Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring with this finish contains a slight sheen on the surface. It retains the natural color and beauty of the bamboo, which is enhanced with this satin look. As a result, the flooring has increased durability and protection.

Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons

When choosing a flooring method, it is good to evaluate its pros and cons. Below are the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Bamboo Flooring

The material makes a great flooring choice. Its advantages include:

  1. It is eco-friendly: Bamboo is a fast-growing resource that matures in 5-6 years. This duration is about one-tenth of the time it takes a red oak tree to mature. Additionally, new stalks grow from the same plant. The plant also requires little fertilizer to grow.
  2. It is cost-effective: The tree is ready to harvest within the 5th year, making it cost-effective and affordable.
  3. Highly durable: When you choose strand woven bamboo flooring, you can benefit from highly durable flooring that is hard to wear. It is twice as hard as oak flooring, which makes it the best choice for areas with high traffic and commercial properties.
  4. Extremely versatile: You can install bamboo wood flooring on any subfloor and in many used areas of your home. Additionally, you can find it in various grains patterns, plank sizes, and finishes. You can choose parquet flooring if you want to give your home a different look.
  5. Easy to clean: If you or your loved one has an allergy, bamboo flooring makes for easy cleaning. You can easily sweep away the dirt and dust, and there are no places where the allergens can hide.

Disadvantages of Bamboo Flooring

Now that we have looked at the various benefits of installing bamboo flooring, some of the cons are:

  1. It can scratch: the material can scratch even with a quality factory finish as any other wood does. Use protective pads with furniture, and you can add some doormats inside the house.
  2. Quality may not be the same throughout all the bamboo types: The quality differs from one type to another. Also, different manufacturers may produce varying flooring qualities.
  3. Probability of off-gassing: If you purchase less quality bamboo flooring, you may experience this challenge. These lower-quality materials contain adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde.
  4. Not waterproof: Though the material is water-resistant, it is not waterproof. As such, you should not install it outside or in areas with excessive water, such as the bathroom.

How to Install Bamboo Flooring

Below is a guide on bamboo flooring installation.

Step #1: Preparation

You need to prepare the surface before installing bamboo flooring. First, you need to ensure the subfloor is dry, clean, and level. If you are lying the flooring on newly made concrete underlay, ensure you check the moisture. Since bamboo is a natural product, it needs to acclimatize before installation. Ensure you place the planks in the rooms for 48 hours.

Step #2: Installation

You can install the bamboo wood flooring in various ways:

Floating the Floor using tongue and groove

  1. After laying the underlay, place some 10mm spacers around the room.
  2. Once removed, they will leave an expansion gap, making room for the flooring to contract and expand naturally.
  3. Then, lay the flooring by gluing together the tongue and groove. Use a waterproof adhesive for this task. Do not glue the underlay to the planks.
  4. Choose your desired patterns and stagger the planks.

Secret Nailing to a Wood Subfloor

For this, you will need to lay a wooden subfloor where you can nail any loose areas.

  1. First, fill any low areas as you sand and plane high spots.
  2. Once you have a level floor, clean the surface.
  3. Leave a 10 mm expansion gap around the room perimeter.
  4. Straighten and secure the first bamboo plank row and continue building up the rows by secret nailing into the groove. Use only a minimum of three nails per plank and avoid going too close to the end of the plank to avoid splitting.
  5. You can use glue to fully seal the floor, ensuring you stagger the planks in your chosen pattern.

Floating The Floor – Using Click Flooring

You can use an underlay to float the floor.

  1. To do so, place some 10mm spacers around the room, which will leave an expansion gap once removed. The gap allows the expansion and contraction of the planks.
  2. Then, interlock the planks’ joint into place to lay the floor.

Gluing the Floor Down to Concrete or Wood Subfloor

Lastly, you can glue down the planks to the subflooring.

  1. First, you need to prepare the subfloor.
  2. If it is wood, sand high spots and fill low areas using a self-leveling compound.
  3. Once it is level, clean the surface, removing any chemicals and adhesives affecting your chosen adhesive.
  4. Leave a 10mm expansion gap around the perimeters of the rooms, including the doorway.
  5. Then, glue the plank bamboo flooring directly on the subfloor to secure the first row.
  6. Once you have a straight first row, continue installing the other planks staggering them in your desired pattern.

Bamboo Costs

In recent years, the cost of the material has come down, which has seen it become a choice for many homeowners. You can buy bamboo flooring between $2 to $10 per square foot.

Common Bamboo Flooring Myths

Below are some of the common myths and misconceptions surrounding bamboo flooring.

  • Bamboo floors shrink: Normally, when you use poor quality products or your home varies in humidity, you can face this issue. It’s worth noting you’d have the same problem with traditional wood floors. Ensure you read the installation manual carefully or get professional installers.
  • Pandas need bamboo to survive: Though pandas eat bamboo shoots, it is not the same plant needed to make the wood planks.
  • Bamboo comes from China and has bad quality: Though bamboo floors come from Asia, they observe strict quality standards. 
  • They scratch easily: Strand woven bamboo flooring is extremely difficult to damage. It is also highly durable compared to other hardwoods.
  • Cannot be refinished: You can refinish bamboo flooring. However, it is much more difficult to stain onsite. However, you can sand it down and add various coats of polyurethane. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of bamboo flooring?

From $2 to $10 per square foot, you can install quality engineered bamboo flooring or solid wood in your home.

Can I DIY or Hire a Professional Installer?

If you are comfortable doing the work, you can undertake a DIY bamboo flooring project. However, to prevent damage, you hire a professional installer.

Where Do I Install Bamboo Flooring?

You can install this type of flooring anywhere you can use wood. However, excess moisture or dryness can damage the wood.

How Long Does Bamboo Flooring Last?

Many manufacturers issue a long-term warranty of at least 25 years.

Is Bamboo Flooring Right for Me?

There are many reasons why you can choose bamboo floors. They are much more durable than hardwoods, affordable, eco-friendly, natural, and beautiful. The material feels warm underfoot.

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