When my husband and I moved to a larger home, to accommodate our growing family, we decided to replace the ratty carpet in all three of the bedrooms with hardwood floors. Hardwood is easier to keep clean, more allergy resistant than the carpeting and we have always loved the beauty of wood. I remember attending a home improvement show and for the first time we heard about the concept of bamboo flooring. Bamboo? We had a discussion with a vendor there and were intrigued, but skeptical. Remember that this was almost 20 years ago, just when bamboo was coming into the flooring market as a viable alternative. I think when people think of bamboo, they don’t think of a strong durable product. People are conditioned to believe that the strong products must come from a strong tree like the mighty oak. Our skepticism was there at the time; we ended up installing beautiful laminate planking with an oak veneer. To this day, they look absolutely beautiful, but sometimes I often wonder about the possibilities with bamboo.
Recently, bamboo flooring has become more readily available on the market. It has been available for about 20 years, but has become more popular and a sought after “green” product just in the last 5 to 10 years. It has developed into a versatile, economical and definitely a green product: helping our earth in a multitude of ways.
First, bamboo is considered the fastest growing plant on earth and can be harvested for use in as early as 5 to 7 years. This contrasts greatly with many of the hardwoods, like oaks, that require 60 years before maturity.
Second, bamboo provides 30 percent more oxygen than a hardwood forest on the same area. It also helps to improve watersheds, prevent erosion, and helps to remove toxins from contaminated soil.
To find out more information about the possibilities, and options available with bamboo flooring I went to a local flooring company in my area: Century Tile. While there, I spoke with a very helpful and knowledgeable salesperson, Sarah Heide. Sarah explained to me the use of the Janka Hardness scale for wood flooring. The Janka scale is the industry standard for gauging the ability of various species to tolerate normal wear and tear. On this scale, Red Oak measured 1290, compared to bamboo which measured 1650. When processed to be used as flooring, bamboo is very resilient and easy to keep clean. The high hardness factor is achieved by adding several, thin layers of aluminum oxide (a tough ceramic coating).
With it’s high ranking of hardness, bamboo flooring is very durable. Yet, drastic temperature fluctuations can cause problems with the wood warping or gaping. Sarah, at Century Tile, explained to me that if a floor is put into a home that is sometimes vacant during the winter months, and the temperature drops dramatically, then this might cause problems with the wood. So when making the decision as to installing bamboo or another type of flooring, usage of the floor should be taken into consideration.
Bamboo is a viable option to traditional hardwoods and helps to provide a green alternative. One would think that since the wood can be more readily harvested that the price of bamboo would be less expensive, unfortunately that is not always the case. Sarah reminded me that the transportation costs from overseas have to be added into the cost of the product. Nevertheless, the cost for bamboo is not too much higher than a high quality hardwood floor; the added durability and longevity might balance the odds.
For more information about bamboo & some beautiful examples of bamboo in the home, check out Bamboo Flooring Facts.
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