In any building today, the floor is often something that is taken for granted, but a problem with the floor, such as warping or scratches, can quickly draw in complaints, so any building or homeowner will want to invest in good floors. Often, hardwood has served as the default construction material for American homes since colonial times, but a alternative to traditional hardwood floors has arrived: bamboo. This plant can be processed into planks that are useful as flooring just like traditional wood, and it has some other advantages over hardwood materials. It is eco-friendly, it is durable and resilient flooring, and installing bamboo flooring can be easy enough to become a DIY project. This alternative to traditional hardwood floors is catching on, and has found a place for itself in today’s flooring industry. Bamboo pros and cons should be considered before making a purchase, however, and engineered bamboo has some unique properties to it.
Flooring as a Business
Bamboo, as an alternative to traditional hardwood floors, is part of the larger flooring industry and figures into its statistics. In the year 2017, to demonstrate with recent data, total flooring sales that year reached a total of $21.99 billion, and all those sales went toward some 19.736 billion square feet, meaning that a lot of homes and public buildings such as schools or museums had wooden floors put down, which may include a fair amount of bamboo flooring. Experts believe that the industry will keep growing. In a recent survey, around 70% of respondents, who included contractors and retailers and more, believed that a 3% growth or more could be expected for 2018, and one in three of those interviewed predicted a growth of 8% or even more. How can bamboo compete with hardwood in this huge industry?
Bamboo Flooring Properties
Bamboo, as an alternative to traditional hardwood floors, has a number of advantages over regular hardwood, although some drawbacks should also be factored in before any purchase is made. It should first be noted that bamboo is not a traditional wood, but instead, is made of a tough, wood-like grass that is sliced and shredded, then fused into planks with heat, pressure, and glues. This makes for an eco-friendly material, since hardwood logging puts pressure on forests, and a tree needs around 20 years to reach maturity. Bamboo, meanwhile, is renewable vegetation that only needs three to five years to mature, and using it eases strain on forests around the world, especially those of North America.
One advantage to bamboo as an alternative to traditional hardwood floors is that it is relatively easy to install in a DIY project, and the right glues and nails will be needed to put it down properly. Price-wise, bamboo can compete with regular hardwood, costing around $5 to $8 per square foot (not counting the fee for a professional installer). Another advantage of bamboo is that it is just as tough as hardwood or even more so, so no strength is lost. Bamboo is easy to maintain, since it often just needs regular mopping or washing with soap and water to remove dirt, food stains, or tracked-in mud. Refinishing bamboo is fairly easy too, and it can be restored to look brand new with minimal trouble. Bamboo can also be carbonized to darken it to other shades, and this softens the wood slightly. Bamboo’s aesthetic makes it appealing for those who want a clean, contemporary look for their living space.
Bamboo flooring has a few potential downsides for any buyer to keep in mind. This material comes in a limited range of tones and hues, even counting darkened bamboo, and pickier buyers may not like this limited selection. Also, bamboo is vulnerable to scratches and dents like any other flooring, such as from dust or pet claws, and this can make it look ugly (although finishing can fix this). Bamboo can also absorb water and humidity, which means that it may warp and expand in humid climates, and this can result in uneven surfaces. Conversely, very dry environments can cause the bamboo to shrink and crack, which can be a serious maintenance issue. Finally, very cheap bamboo should be avoided, since it is often poor quality cast-off material, and the overseas factories that make bamboo planks may have lax quality control.