Bamboo floors are quickly gaining in popularity, highly touted for their strength and environmental benefits. But what do consumers really know about this product? And what should they look for when purchasing new bamboo flooring?

How Bamboo Flooring is Made

Bamboo grows in Asia, with a vast quantity of the bamboo used in building materials coming from Hunan, a province of China. This grass grows quickly and can be harvested quickly, making bamboo a renewable resource.

Bamboo stalks are split along the vertical side and flattened into narrow sheets. These sheets are then laminated and milled to create floor planks. Preservatives are added to ensure greater durability in both residential and commercial applications. Strand bamboo flooring uses smaller particles of the grass to add fibers and increase strength. These strands are included in the lamination stage, and become part of the milled planks used in bamboo floors. Bamboo is made to suit a variety of applications. Use glue down or nail down bamboo plank flooring on your main floor or bedrooms, or opt for floating bamboo floors in your finished basement. Bamboo can also be used for light commercial applications, such as office buildings or smaller retail establishments.

Choosing the Best Type of Bamboo Floors

Bamboo floors come in several different styles, including horizontal and vertical flooring. Laying the bamboo stalks and strands at different angles during lamination produces these distinctions. Some people prefer the natural look of horizontal bamboo flooring, while others like the striped appearance of vertical styles. Both are made with the same raw material and deliver similar levels of hardness and durability. Quality manufacturers ensure that the initial bamboo stalks used in the manufacturing process have been aged between five and seven years. It’s advantageous for manufacturers to use younger stalks, since they can reproduce faster and result in higher levels of production. But buyer beware—those young stalks are softer and more prone to warping and bending. Look for manufacturers that offer information on the type of adhesives used in the process. Some of the cheaper bamboo flooring brands may use questionable adhesives, reducing the quality of the product and taking away some of the environmental benefits. Buy from a manufacturer that works hard to deliver sustainable, highly durable products to North American consumers. Products covered under the CARB standards ensure high levels of air quality by offering no VOCs (also known as volatile organic compounds). Bamboo comes in a few colors, including the popular carbonized tone and a natural, light-colored appearance. Choose the color that best suits your décor, as all three are widely available at top wood flooring retailers. Choose well when shopping for bamboo floors. Avoid cheaply made products and opt instead for higher value, stronger brands that comply with CARB standards and use fully matured stalks. Your flooring retailer should have the information needed to make a wise choice. Bamboo floors offer homeowners an excellent choice for solid flooring or floating wood floors. Affordable, highly durable and a safe choice for the environment, bamboo flooring will continue to be in demand by discerning homeowners, decorators and home builders across North America.