Bamboo wood flooring is commonly manufactured through a process that starts by splitting and flattening the bamboo. The layers of bamboo are then dried and laminated with glue under high pressure. In order to produce bamboo hardwood flooring that has coloring similar to that of darker woods, the bamboo is heated, a process that softens the bamboo. This means that darker bamboo floors are generally softer than the lighter ones.
Strand bamboo flooring is manufactured by fusing fibers of bamboo with adhesive under very high pressure resulting in significantly harder flooring. Woven bamboo flooring has a rating of 2800-3000 on the Janka scale. This means it can withstand 2800-3000 pounds of force before bending, rating higher than most other hardwoods. Regular wood bamboo flooring has a Janka rating of around 1380, which is equivalent to the rating of white oak.
For cheaper yet still durable flooring, bamboo laminate flooring offers the option of long lasting, easy-to-maintain and resistant floors. It can work well for moisture-prone rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms and can be easily replaced if irreparably damaged. Installation is quick and easy enough for the non-professional, which can save significantly on expenses. For some people, bamboo laminate flooring may not provide the quality and feel of a natural wood floor. For others, the ease of installation, cost, and relatively low maintenance needed for bamboo laminate flooring makes it an excellent choice for flooring.
As for its environmental profile, bamboo is a grass that grows rapidly. Typically it is about 3 years from planting to harvesting. Bamboo does not require replanting to re-grow, and uses a minimum of fertilizers and pesticides. For these reasons, it is considered an environmentally friendly wood substitute, a “green material” as specified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.
However, in many instances bamboo is planted on land where forests have been cleared for these plantations and where other practices have been employed including the clearing of undergrowth, weeds and pests with the use of weed killers and pesticides. Although bamboo does not need fertilizers to grow rapidly, fertilizer is still used on many plantations in order to speed growth even more. Biodiversity in these areas has therefore been negatively affected by these practices and by the general conversion of these lands over to bamboo production.
Bamboo flooring is a popular option for those looking to install inexpensive and attractive flooring that resists moisture and insects. Although its environmental friendliness is still up for debate, bamboo has the potential to be an ecological alternative to real wood flooring.