Bamboo Flooring – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly homesteaders journal

Bamboo Flooring – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly homesteaders journal

Bamboo Flooring – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

With all the recent focus on the environment and “greener living,” bamboo flooring is getting quite the hype. Consumers are left wondering what to believe and what to do about it. If you are considering installing bamboo flooring in your home, here are some things you’ll want to know, and some things you probably didn’t. I’ll not pull any punches nor will I overstate my case.

Let’s start with the good part, all laid out nice and neatly for you.

Bamboo flooring is an attractive alternative to hardwood flooring. It comes in several shades or hues, and is available in several more “stained” colors. Natural bamboo is light-colored, having a light, almost Maplewood appearance. To darken bamboo, it must be heated with steam. Steamed bamboo can be almost as dark as walnut, or any shade in between, given the length of time it is steamed and the temperature at which it is steamed.

Bamboo flooring does have environmentally-friendly aspects. It is a grass, not a tree, so it matures much faster. Bamboo can produce in 3 to 7 years what it takes an oak tree 100 to 150 years. And it can do it again in 3 to 7 years. It is a much more sustainable resource. Some bamboo flooring comes from natural groves, requiring almost no fertilizers or other chemical in the growth process. It contains fewer voc’s and utilizes far fewer toxins in its production than other types of flooring. It is certainly “greener” than carpeting.

Bamboo flooring isn’t really any harder for the homeowner to install, or care for, than its hardwood flooring cousins. There are snap-together varieties that can be laid in a matter of hours. There are also the “floating” varieties that take no more time to install than their laminate floating friends. No special care is needed. You can use your old trusty broom for everyday sweeping up, and the occasional damp mop for eliminating messier dirt and grime. No waxing is required. In fact, waxing can damage and dull the finish.

Bamboo flooring is readily available in most areas, and the advent of many online bamboo flooring suppliers almost guarantees that you, irregardless of location, can have access to it. You may have to wait a bit longer, but you’ll get it eventually.

Now, let’s have a look at the not-so-good side of bamboo flooring, shall we?

While bamboo flooring is a good alternative to hardwood flooring, it isn’t a hardwood. The darker the tone, the harder the bamboo, but you’ll never get that oak-hard toughness from bamboo. Dings, dents and scuffs can and will occur. Pets and children can have quite an undesirable effect on bamboo flooring. High heels are its nemesis, sure to leave their mark. Be sure to put scuff pads or sliders under any furniture that is moved around frequently, to prevent marking and marring of the surface.

The environmental friendliness of bamboo flooring is up for debate, too. Sure, it’s a renewable grass -a renewable grass grown in China, where environmental issues are taking a back seat to profits. Large bamboo plantations are cropping up, using chemicals and fertilizers to grow abundant bamboo. These plantations often deforest surrounding areas to make room for more bamboo. They also denude the undergrowth to keep their bamboo stands free from weeds and other plants. This can lead to erosion and poor soil conditions. The production of bamboo flooring does involve some solvents and other toxic chemicals. Granted, the amounts used are lower than in other types of flooring, but they are still present. Stained bamboo carries with it all the nasty stuff present in other stained woods, as well.

While bamboo flooring doesn’t differ much in installation or care, the homeowner might feel a squeeze in his wallet from choosing bamboo flooring. The cost of bamboo flooring is significantly higher than that of other flooring choices. This higher cost may actually put off some homeowners from deciding to use it in their homes. Bamboo flooring is still relatively new to the home construction/renovation scene, and like anything new or trendy, is often priced higher than it has to be. Bamboo flooring is more “picky” too about where it can happily coexist with other aspects of your home. Being porous, it doesn’t like water or moisture or even slight dampness, so baths, kitchens, basements and other sub-grade areas are pretty much off-limits for it. Also, entryways are not a good choice, as the moisture brought in on wet shoes can have disastrous effects on your bamboo flooring. It doesn’t like the sun much, either. Direct sunlight fades it out, and rather quickly, too. Bamboo flooring should not be placed in sunrooms or other areas of the home that receive a great deal of natural light for this reason. If you do decide to use it in a bright and airy room, you’ll need to keep the blinds or draperies drawn during the day to protect the floor.

Bamboo Flooring – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly homesteaders journal

Lastly, the “ugly” bit: Now, I don’t want to offend anyone’s sensibilities or decorating tastes, but some of the stains available in bamboo flooring leave much to be desired. With stain color choices with names like moss green and butterscotch pink, need I say more?

Bamboo flooring can be a beautiful addition to any home, but not all homes. Some may find it too impractical for their active, busy families. Others may find it the perfect choice for certain areas of their home, but will have to accept that other areas will need alternative flooring. If you’re considering it solely for its environmental “friendliness” you may want to research your manufacturers a bit to find one that is truly as “green” as they can be. All in all, bamboo flooring is like the rest of us – it has its good points and bad points. And a few ugly bits as well.

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