Once a novelty act, bamboo flooring is now a staple in homes.
But not all bamboo flooring is created alike. Some suppliers are more ethical than others; some suppliers have a greater variety of products. Others offer the lowest prices at the expense of other categories, such as ethics or quality. So this list breaks up "Best Of" into different categories:
Best For: Overall Product Quality
Teragren Optimum 5.5 Moso
It pays to stay on top of things. Teragren, with its hand in the entire process of making bamboo flooring--from cutting the bamboo culm (stalk) to sending planks off to distributors--is able to quality-check its products in rigorous detail.
But the main thing that makes Teragren's bamboo flooring of a higher quality? A special species of bamboo called Optimum 5.5 Moso (Phyllostachys pubescens). This is not your backyard bamboo; moso has dense, hard fibers and is harvested only at its most mature point (about 5.5 to 6 years old).
Best For: Durability
Cali Bamboo HD Fossilized
Based in San Diego, CA, Cali Bamboo offers up one monster of a product.
Cali bills Fossilized as being "twice the density of any other hardwood floor in the world" and they support this claim with a 50 year warranty.
Even though adhesives contribute to HD Fossilized's strength, this flooring still has a low VOC rating and has no added formaldehyde.
Strand-weaving the boards also toughens up this material for the hardest home or even commercial use.
Best For: Ethics and Green Friendliness
With a lot of bamboo flooring, provenance is hazy Bamboo is often assigned points for being green and ethical even when it clearly is not.
Teragren, based in Bainbridge Island, WA, knows exactly where its raw materials come from and can let you know.
Teragren makes sure that its suppliers' factory workers and farmers are paid fair wages. Also, Teragren participates in LEED programs, harvests only highly sustainable bamboo, and is a member of several organizations dedicated to environmental issues.
Most bamboo is sourced in the Southeast Asia area, including China. China is a nation known for its wide-ranging abuses against human rights and freedom, as well as its support of the totalitarian regime North Korea.
In the future, one alternative to Chinese bamboo may be Africa, a continent with 18 countries that are beginning to develop a viable bamboo industry.
Best For: Wide Selection
Online-only home products retailer BuildDirect has got selection nailed down. Where other retailers may offer 15-20 types of bamboo flooring, BuildDirect currently carries 126 types--from the usual natural honey-colored bamboo on to unique offerings like slate color, pure black, gray, and even parquet styles.
It offers low prices for its basic line of Yanchi carbonized horizontal bamboo flooring (4" wide). But there is a catch.
BuildDirect is well-known for engaging in pricing tactics that teeter dangerously close to bait-and-switch.
For example, the Yanchi is prominently advertised at $1.74 per square foot, yet this is only when you choose their "Pricing Tier" of 1,851 square feet or more. In fact, BuildDirect will not even allow you to purchase less than 282 square feet.
Best For: Low Cost
Lumber Liquidators, Lowe's
If the price of bamboo flooring is your only concern, take your pick. It is relatively simple to find cheap bamboo flooring.
- Lumber Liquidators: Lumber Liquidators consistently keeps its prices on bamboo flooring rock-bottom cheap. Since this article was first written in 2011, the price on their 3/8" thick by 4" wide (technically 3 15/16") horizontal carbonized bamboo has held steady at $1.49 per square foot.
- Lowe's: Home improvement stores Lowe's and Home Depot also manage to keep bamboo prices low. But Lumber Liquidators makes sure that the box boxes will never match their prices. Lowe's lowest price offering, Natural Floors 3.78" Spice Bamboo Hardwood Flooring currently is priced at $2.00 per square foot.