Bamboo Flooring for the 21st Century

Bamboo flooring has emerged as a new material for the commercial design market. Its unique look and earth friendly properties have made it popular for flooring and panels. Although bamboo has been used as a construction material for centuries, it has only recently emerged as an engineered flooring product.

Here are some important facts you should know before selecting your bamboo flooring:

Bamboo is a grass not a wood. As a grass bamboo regenerates faster than wood. In fact, bamboo is typically harvested within five years of sprouting, making it a truly renewable resource. Its use can provide a positive impact on the environment. Harvesting bamboo serves to stimulate the growth of very extensive underground root systems, which develops fast growing sprouts the following spring. Sprouts breaking through the soil can grow as much as 2 feet the first day.

Bamboo flooring's hardness varies. While northern red oak's characteristics are the same regardless of where it is grown, the same can not be said for bamboo flooring grown in the different Provinces in China. Although bamboo used for flooring is always the same species, there are significant differences caused by environmental conditions. Where it grows, what time of year it is harvested, the age of the bamboo, the soil chemistry and the amount of rain are all variables that will affect the hardness and stability of bamboo flooring.

During the carbonization process, bamboo flooring loses about 20% of its hardness. The fibers are weakened by the presence of high pressure steam, which is used to change the bamboo strips to a darker color. The color change is found through the entire plank. Carbonizing creates many different tones which can not be precisely controlled.

The best bamboo for floor grows on the top portion of a mountain with moderate rain, is five to eight years old, is harvested in the winter, is five to seven inches in diameter and is located in either the Fujian or Zehjiang provinces in China. The bamboo harvested in these provinces is harder and more stable than other locations due to the environmental conditions.

Bamboo flooring and panels are strips of bamboo glued together. The glues produced and consumed in China typically are laden with formaldehyde. When selecting your bamboo flooring product, ensure that only quality adhesives were used in its manufacture, and avoid cheap adhesives which are typically laden with formaldehyde.