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 that you should ask the dealer or retailer before you make a decision. This guide can walk you through some of them, including quality, cost, warranty, and the different types of bamboo flooring available.
What Is Bamboo Flooring?
Bamboo flooring is made from the bamboo plant, which is a type of grass. A less expensive option than traditional hardwood flooring, this type of floor is easy to keep clean, versatile, and durable.
Before You Buy Bamboo Floor
You take a look at the flooring in your house, and you're ready for a change. A new look and a freshening up are in order. You decide you want a wood or wood-looking type of floor for your home, so the first thing you do is start looking at the options that are available. There are many different selections, and it can be absolutely mind-boggling; then you notice...bamboo floors.
Bamboo floors are eco-friendly and sustainable, taking less time to mature (approximately five years) than oak trees, making them a nice option to consider. It is also affordable and comes in many different colors. But, as with any kind of flooring, you should look at the advantages and disadvantages of bamboo flooring and what you need to be aware of as you choose one for your home.
Buying Considerations for a Bamboo Floor
There is no standard grading system that 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.
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 to 25 years, with finish warranties usually extending for 5 to 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.
Natural bamboo = Red oak hardwood
Carbonized bamboo = Black walnut hardwood
(Very soft and easy to scratch and dent)
Bamboo flooring is relatively easy to take care of, similar to hardwood floors, you simply vacuum, wipe, or damp mop weekly. But, this flooring also can get scratched, discolored, or even dented over a period of time; this also depends on the quality of the flooring material. The better the quality, the less chance it has of this happening. But if it does, unless it is engineered bamboo flooring, it can easily be refinished if needed with some sanding and staining.
While resistant to water damage, bamboo flooring is still not waterproof. This organic material can get mold and moisture or humidity can affect the planking causing swelling and buckling. It also is known to crack easier than hardwood flooring.
Types of Bamboo Flooring
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. Check the surface treatment that was used on the bamboo flooring when it was being manufactured, as that will affect the wear and tear of your floor.
You will find many different color choices and finishes, including a distressed look, unfinished so you can finish it yourself if you want, or lacquered or satin, which provides a coating but keeps a more natural look, and stained from light to dark hues.
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 features and has the most consistent look.
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.
Bamboo flooring is a relatively economical material, with the price per square foot ranging depending on a variety of characteristics. It typically runs $2.00 - $9.00 per square foot. If you're going to have a professional install the floor for you, figure around $4.00 to $5.00 per square foot more for the installation.
When estimating the cost of your floor, you should also factor in extra flooring for any additional cuts or waste needed. For example, in a 200-square-foot room, you should purchase 230 to 240 square feet of flooring to account for these adjustments. It is also possible that the subflooring will need to be repaired or patched before laying down the new floor. You might decide to lay down a vapor barrier, or underlayment, which will add additional costs, too.
How to Choose Bamboo Flooring
Everyone's likes and dislikes are different, making us unique. Just like in any design or decoration for your home, the choice of flooring is up to you. Select what fits your taste best, what you can afford, and what is going to work best in your home for you, your family, and your pets. Ask yourself some questions as you go about making your selection.
What Room Will It be In?
Take into consideration the room that the bamboo flooring is going to be in. This type of flooring is best used in areas that don't use water or hold moisture. So that being said, a bathroom is not the best place to use bamboo flooring. It is a great floor for the bedrooms, living area, home office, or family room. The different variations of stains, hues, and tones will make this floor a focal point in the room, providing warmth and character.
What Does the Rest of the Room Look Like?
Since bamboo flooring comes in many different colors, hues, and even patterns, take a look at what is in the rest of the room. The color of the walls can easily change if need be, but what about the furniture pieces that are in the room? The colors, fabrics, and patterns of the furniture should blend well with the flooring and not clash.
Where to Shop
Putting new flooring in your home can be costly. It's nice to be able to touch and see the actual floor before making such a big purchase. Consider shopping around at some home improvement stores and some flooring companies, so you can get an idea of what you like, compare prices, and then go online to see if the product is available there, too,
Don't be afraid to shop around and look at all the options before making a decision. Ask questions at the stores, that way you know what you're getting and can ensure it's what you want.
Wherever you buy your flooring, understand just what the warranty is, the return policy, and the delivery options. Is there a delivery fee? What's the amount of time you have to return it? And if for some reason, some of the flooring pieces are damaged, what kind of customer service is there?
Factoring all of this into the equation as you search will provide you the necessary answers and security of knowing just what you got when you bought new flooring for your home.
How long does bamboo flooring last?
If cared for properly, bamboo flooring can last an average of 20 to 25 years.
What is the best way to install bamboo flooring?
Bamboo flooring can be installed as a floating floor or glued down. If gluing, a flexible flooring adhesive should used to allow the floor to expand contract with the changing of the climate.
Do you need to seal bamboo flooring?
Unless it is unfinished, there is no need to stain or add additional varnish or sealants.