Bamboo Flooring

 Bamboo Flooring in Denver, CO

Are you interested in an alternative to your existing hardwood floors or new construction? If so, bamboo flooring is a popular and environment-friendly option for your home or office.

Here is what you need to know to make an informed decision: what it looks like, it’s durability, it’s sustainability, and how it will affect your home environment.

The Color & Grain of Typical Bamboo Flooring

fresh-cut bamboo with fungal rotting

This cut bamboo shows signs of fungal decay.

High-quality bamboo is usually a pale yellow color. This is what you should look for. However, sometimes you will see live bamboo discolored with brown or black streaks or patches; this is an indication of possible fungal decay.

If you see dark streaks or patches in your flooring, you will want to move on and find a higher quality option because once a fungus starts to eat away at flooring materials, all it takes is a little moisture to feed it (Rest assured, though, high-quality bamboo planks that are installed and finished properly are resistant to normal wear and tear as well as rotting).

Bamboo flooring planks bear no growth rings or heartwood/sapwood. Usually, the texture is quite consistent unless it has been split and processed into lumber. In this case, you, on a rare occasion, see marks from the blades used to cut the wood.

Bamboo Flooring Texture

Typical bamboo flooring color and texture.

What you will see on a high-quality bamboo floor plank are the “sheath scars” that separate the internodes of the stem of the bamboo plant. They look like “joints” that hold the sections of the stem together and distinguish bamboo from hardwood flooring.

Bamboo Has its Insufficiencies, But it’s Durable!

With both hardwood and bamboo, the planks can be nailed, glued, or floated, and can be installed over many types of subfloors, for your convenience. Bamboo stains, glues, and finishes very well, but is species-dependent when it comes to the difficulty of working with it and its stability. Due to shrinkage of bamboo, while being dried, the moisture content has to be re-adjusted. Once this happens, it is somewhat stable in use.

Special care must be taken when processing bamboo into lumber — it is not recommended for use in exterior conditions due to its perishable nature, as well as its susceptibility to attacks by insects. This is something homeowners need to be aware of when making a decision to install bamboo lumber.

Still, bamboo is flame-resistant and is 27% harder than Northern Red Oak and 13% harder than hard Maple. Solid bamboo has a Janka rating of 1762; this indicates that it can take as much wear and tear as any hardwood. In fact, one of the only hardwoods we recommend for outdoor use is Brazilian walnut or “Ipe.”

How Important is Sustainability in Your Flooring Decision?

At MacDonald Hardwoods, we support the Lacey Act, which protects the safety of endangered species and their environments from logging practices. So, we Don’t Steal From Pandas. This may or may not have crossed your mind, but bamboo is a grass known as being the main food source for pandas. However, the particular species that we use in flooring, selected from groves in Southern China, is not eaten by pandas. Rest assured, having bamboo flooring will not make our black and white friends endangered.

Additionally, bamboo flooring allows us to use fewer trees and create more floors. As stated above, bamboo is a grass, so it doesn’t involve clear-cutting a forest to create your flooring. From a sprout, bamboo can be harvested in a matter of 3-5 years, which is quite fast. Because of the fast-growing nature and density, an acre of bamboo provides more flooring than an acre of trees. That’s pretty impressive!

Environmental Aspects of Bamboo Flooring in Your Home

When bamboo is worked, it gives off a natural, earthy fragrance. This is one of the many distinctions it has from other types of flooring. Some people claim that bamboo has antibacterial properties and bamboo charcoal and other products are also sold as “air cleaners” to eliminate undesirable odors from the surrounding areas. Whether this is the truth or not, we don’t know, but numerous homeowners will swear their bamboo floors lead to a cleaner home environment.

Although it is rare, bamboo has been known to cause skin irritation in some people. As with all flooring, it’s important to make sure you don’t have a sensitivity to the substances being used. In most cases, bamboo planks are a safe material to use in your home (and they make beautiful floors).

Bamboo floors are great for an eco-friendly home

Bamboo floors are great for an eco-friendly home.

In a nutshell, bamboo floors are a great addition to an eco-friendly home and even your meditation room. However, as with hardwood, bamboo isn’t necessarily the best choice for rooms with a lot of moisture. For example, in your bathroom or laundry room, tile or laminate flooring may be a better option.

Some people prefer carpets to hard floors because of their comfort and warmth. Bamboo floors can be colder and harder than carpeting. So, if you choose them, prepare yourself to use area rugs throughout the house.

Need More Information?

You now know the basics of bamboo. Knowing all of the options available helps you make an informed decision, so let us know what you decide. We are happy to install hardwood or bamboo flooring for your home. Call us today for advice, further information on bamboo flooring, or to for help choosing the best hardwood floors for your home.