Your Bamboo Flooring Shopping Guide
Posted by: Genesis Floors
If it’s your first time looking into bamboo flooring, you will be surprised how many different bamboo flooring products are out there. And the pros and cons you may be finding out about bamboo don’t apply to all bamboo universally. It’s easy to get confused with all the different terminology and get a wrong idea about bamboo flooring. Here is a quick guide from Genesis Flooring explaining everything you need to know about bamboo flooring and how to shop for it.
How Bamboo Flooring is Made
As you may know, bamboo is not a tree—it’s a type of grass. And although it’s thick as far as grass goes, it’s definitely not thick enough to produce full-size flooring planks like hardwood. Therefore, bamboo flooring is made by pressing several bamboo stalks (or loose fibers) together with adhesives to create bamboo beams. Beams are then cut into planks that look more like the bamboo flooring you are used to seeing.
Here is a video explaining this process:
The age of the bamboo is an important factor to consider. The older the stalk at the time of harvesting, the stronger the flooring. If strength is important to you, look for 5-7 year bamboo or older.
Types of Bamboo Grain
Since many bamboo stalks are pressed together to create the planks, there are two different ways they could be positioned in a press: horizontally and vertically. To picture horizontal placement, think of a brick wall. Each brick is a bamboo stalk; 3 layers of bricks or so will make a plank. With vertical placement, there is no layering, but instead stalks are flipped on a side and glued one after another. The third type of bamboo grain is strand-woven bamboo that shows no visible seams. It’s made by weaving together separate strands of bamboo and gluing them under pressure. Strand-woven bamboo is much harder than vertical or horizontal bamboo.
Natural vs. Carbonized Bamboo
Natural bamboo is the light bamboo color you are probably most familiar with. It hasn’t been stained or colored in any way. Carbonized bamboo, on the other hand, has been treated with heat to allow the sugars inside the bamboo to darken. This process gives bamboo a dark coffee color, but it also weakens the fibers.
In addition to these color treatments, bamboo flooring can also be stained or direct-printed with a pattern of another wood. Some bamboo floors combine carbonized and natural strands to create a unique striped pattern.
Solid vs. Engineered Bamboo
Just like hardwood, bamboo can be solid or engineered. Solid bamboo consists entirely of bamboo stalks. Engineered bamboo has the same appearance from the top, but only this top layer is bamboo. It’s attached to other types of wood, which often reduces the cost of the plank and adds more stability. Engineered bamboo is commonly manufactured with tongue-and-groove systems, allowing for easy installation.
How Bamboo Flooring is Installed
The two ways to install bamboo flooring is by floating it or installing directly over a sub-floor. When installing over a sub-floor, bamboo planks are glued or nailed down. A moisture barrier is often necessary to protect bamboo from moisture coming from underneath. When a bamboo floor is floated, it can either be glued together or attached by the tongue-and-groove system. Gluing a floating floor can be tricky, as you don’t have a lot of room for error.
Hopefully, now you have a better idea about what to look for in bamboo flooring and how to shop for it. Remember that natural, solid, mature vertical or strand-woven bamboo is about the toughest bamboo you can get. Need more help? Contact us today or stop by our Sykesville flooring showroom to take a look at different bamboo flooring samples.