Bamboo Flooring Buying Guide

Bamboo floor, full frame
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When purchasing bamboo flooring materials there are a number of things you have to account for. You will need to decide on the size, color, and style of the planks as well as the installation method. There are also several important questions which you should ask the dealer or retailer before you make a decision.

Bamboo Floor Cost Considerations

$2.00 per square foot - $8.00 per square foot

Bamboo flooring is a relatively economical material, with the price per square foot ranging depending on a variety of characteristics.

Quality: Because it is still a fairly new floor covering, there is no standard grading system which can be used to rate the quality of bamboo materials. Many dealers will group their products into grade A and grade B lots but those are arbitrary divisions.

Because of this, you need to find a reputable dealer that will be able to deliver high-quality materials from reliable sources. You should also try to avoid bargain basement bamboo outlets that may be selling low-quality materials at what seem to be unbelievably low prices.

Warranty: Most reputable dealers will offer a warranty with the purchase of flooring material. With bamboo, this is usually a structural integrity warranty that covers the physical strength of the floor. With pre-finished flooring, you may also be able to get a surface warranty.

Generally, higher quality bamboo flooring will come with a longer and more extensive warranty. Average residential structural warranties will range from 10-25 years, with finish warranties usually extending for 5-10 years.

Strength and Durability: The strength of bamboo is measured relative to hardwood flooring materials, and depends on a variety of factors.

The darker the bamboo the less durable it will be. That is because the dark hues are caused by a process known as carbonization, which places the bamboo under a high level of heat and pressure. This both changes the color and weakens the material.

The time period when the bamboo is harvested can also affect its level of durability and hardness. The ideal time to reap bamboo stalks is five years after they are planted. Premature or late harvesting will result in a weaker material.

The most durable bamboo flooring will be strand woven materials. This is made by shredding the bamboo stalk, then reconstituting it into a block using pressure and adhesive. The block is then cut down into usable flooring planks.

Relative Hardness

Strand Woven Bamboo = Brazilian Cherry Hardwood
(Extremely strong and durable)

Natural Bamboo = Red Oak Hardwood

Carbonized Bamboo = Black Walnut Hardwood
(Very soft and easy to scratch and dent)

Types Of Bamboo Flooring

Colors: Bamboo flooring is available in a wide variety of colors. As mentioned earlier, darkening effects tend to weaken the material, however, stains and finishes can be applied that will achieve nearly any hue you desire.

Horizontal, Vertical, or Strand Woven: The way that the slices of bamboo are laminated together will affect the way the surface of the material looks.

Horizontal: The strips are laid flat side by side and on top of one another to build the plank, creating a look that shows fewer joint lines and more natural bamboo features.

Vertical: The slices of bamboo are stood up on their edges and pushed together to bind them, creating a surface that has more joint lines and fewer natural bamboo features.

Strand Woven: This involves shredding the bamboo and then forcing it back together. This type of floor shows the fewest joint lines and natural wood featuresĀ and has the most consistent look.

Surface Treatment: Often the price of bamboo materials will be heavily influenced by the type of UV coating that is applied to the surface. Low-quality materials will often have only two or three coats applied to the surface. However, the ideal is to have the floor coated at least six or seven times on all six sides of the plank to prevent moisture penetration. Aluminum oxide is considered to be one of the highest quality finishes available.