Bamboo has recently become the hottest trend in flooring. The reasons for its popularity surge are many, but they can be divided into three basic categories: aesthetics, properties, and environmental benefits.
Because bamboo is a grass rather than a tree, its finished appearance is very distinctive. Most distinctive is the eye-catching pattern of slightly darker bands produced by its nodes – a feature that clearly sets it apart from wood. Bamboo’s other aesthetic features include the tightness of its grain and the uniformity of its color.
Generally sold pre-finished, bamboo is available in its light, natural color or in darker shades produced by carbonization. Carbonization is a manufacturing process that subjects the bamboo to steam and pressure. This causes a darkening of the sugar content in its fibers resulting in a honey-brown color. The shade of the color is dependent upon the length of the process.
Appearance of the finished product is further enhanced by the various plank constructions. Choices include vertical or horizontal solid construction, engineered construction, and strand woven construction.
Amazing as it may seem, this hollow, grass-family plant is actually stronger than most hardwoods. Some species of bamboo have obtained Janka hardness ratings higher than mapleand nearly double that of red oak – the benchmark of hardwoods. Besides its hardness quality, bamboo is also very resilient and can take a greater impact than most hardwoods without denting. Hardness and resilience: a dynamic duo for durability.
Other outstanding properties of bamboo are its dimensional stability and moisture resistance. Because bamboo flooring is a laminated product, the likeliness of gapping, cupping, or warping is greatly reduced.
Another factor that makes bamboo less likely to warp is that it grows in tropical regions. Therefore, it is naturally resistive to moisture. This makes it suitable for use in areas like bathrooms and kitchens where hardwood flooring is usually not recommended. Of course, being resistive to moisture means bamboo is also resistive to spills, and thus resistive to stains – certainly a desirable feature for any elegant floor.
In an age of ever-growing concern over depletion of natural resources, especially of hardwood forests, the trend toward bamboo flooring could not be timelier.
Bamboo is extremely fast-growing compared to hardwoods. On average, bamboo is capable of reaching maturity, at heights well over 50 feet, and is ready to harvest in five years. Additionally, since it is a grass, it is harvested again and again from the same plant. Compare that to an individual hardwood tree taking anywhere from three decades to more than a hundred years to mature, depending on the species.
Bamboo is an alternative to traditional hardwood flooring that is:
- uniquely attractive
- strong and resilient
- dimensionally stable
- moisture and stain resistant
It is also less expensive than many hardwoods and can be purchased for nailed down, stapled down, glued down, or floated installation.
With so many positive attributes, it’s no wonder that bamboo has become the hottest trend in flooring.