Bamboo Flooring: bamboo floors have the look, feel, and many of the characteristics of hardwood materials yet they are actually made from a type of grass. Bamboo is a perennial evergreen which is also a member of the true grass family. It is grown primarily in southern and eastern Asia where it is an important part of the local economy.
Bamboo Flooring Explained
Bamboo flooring looks great and is eco-friendly too
Bamboo flooring is becoming increasingly popular. This is not just for the way it looks. Its environmental credentials are also responsible for making it a highly attractive option. Bamboo is a versatile material, which can be manufactured into different types of flooring. If you are considering installing bamboo flooring in your home, here’s everything you need to know.
The environmental benefits of bamboo flooring
Bamboo is a grass, so it’s renewable, sustainable and it grows quickly. The harvesting process is also beneficial to the forest in which it grows. Once cut, new bamboo shoots are encouraged to grow which regenerates the forest.
To make the most of the environmental benefits, you should always look for flooring made with eco-friendly adhesives. Some cheaper brands may contain formaldehyde, which is banned in the UK, due to its links to health risks. A reputable company will be able to provide a certificate to confirm that formaldehyde hasn’t been used in the manufacturing process. It’s usually the cheaper floors which contain formaldehyde, so expect to pay from £40 upwards per square metre for a quality product.
It always pays to invest in good quality materials
How is bamboo flooring is made?
The mature bamboo poles are cut into strips and then boiled and steamed to remove the sugar and starch. The bamboo is then dried, woven and pressed. The strands can then be used in different ways to create a solid or engineered board. Both plank and parquet designs are available.
The old stairs stripped back
The new bamboo flooring
Construction types and styles of bamboo flooring
There are several ways that bamboo flooring can be constructed, which will have an impact on the strength and the board’s appearance.
The strands can be fixed horizontally in three layers using a brick pattern (picture 5) so the grain pattern is evident. Alternatively, thinner strips can be used vertically giving a more textured appearance (picture 6). These two methods create a board which will behave in the same way as a solid wood board.
The strands can also be laid horizontally over a birch ply to create an engineered board (picture 7). This will behave in the same way as an engineered wooden board and is extremely strong and stable. More detailed information can be found here.
Flooring can also be made with strand woven bamboo, where the bamboo strands are compressed under extreme pressure to form a plank (picture 8). It can be used to make solid or engineered flooring which is very durable and strong.
Horizontal layers of bamboo
Solid bamboo flooring
Engineered bamboo flooring
Strand woven bamboo
Lacquer finish on a bamboo floor
The lacquer gives the bamboo planks a gloss finish
Bamboo flooring is usually supplied with a lacquer finish. Problems can occur if the board is dipped in lacquer during the manufacturing process, as all of the surface area is covered and sealed in. The means that any trapped moisture can’t escape. Reputable companies will only apply the lacquer to the top of the board, so always check this.
How is bamboo flooring fitted?
Bamboo is treated the same way as wood, so can be installed as a floating floor, glued down or fixed with secret nails. More information about installation methods can be found here. The surface can be sanded if the floor doesn’t contain formaldehydes (as the sanding process would release the chemicals into the air.) Wood finishes can also be used on bamboo. Cognac and antique oak can look particularly attractive.
Fitting work in progress
Is bamboo better than hardwood flooring?
Bamboo can be used in the same way as wood and can also be used to clad stairs
This is a matter of preference. A good quality bamboo floor will have just as much character as a rustic oak wooden floor. Bamboo boards tend to be shorter and narrower than wood, so if you prefer wider boards with fewer joins, an engineered wooden floor would be a better option. As with all wood coverings, it pays to do your research to ensure you buy a good quality floor that will stand the test of time.
If you would like any further information about bamboo or wood flooring, please contact us here.