Bamboo Flooring: Affordable and Environmentally Friendly

Bamboo floor covering has long been considered a luxury item, reserved only for wealthy floor design aficionados.

Used for thousands of years as decor, until recently, few people considered covering their floors with the attractively slick, almost see-through look. As a result, real bamboo covered floor coverings--fashioned after the delicate bamboo stalk--were a rarity.

But the current environmental concerns have raised the desirability of bamboo floors head and shoulders above regular hardwood floors, and ensured its popularity. Bamboo has become affordable, and gone mainstream.

Where Does Bamboo Come From?

Standard hardwood floors are made from trees. The bamboo plant is harvested in a fraction of the time (only every six years). This harvest time frame allows for a relatively quick production turnaround. As environmentalists know, it takes decades to harvest a tree. And bamboo is undeniably exquisite in appearance. The exotic look of fine bamboo is due to the graining and texture characteristics unique to its production. Scratch-resistant finishing, using aluminum-oxide finishing, is popular and enhances its appeal.

Bamboo Has Eye Appeal … and Cost Appeal

There are likely to be cost savings, too, if you look around.

“I love the look,” says a well-heeled customer entering a New York showroom. “At $7.00 a square foot, uninstalled, it’s within my price range.”

As its popularity has increased, Bamboo’s pricing has gone way down. Bamboo flooring can now be purchased at rock bottom prices of $1.88 per square foot, but you should keep an eye out for quality product.

What to Watch Out For

  • Stay away from “cheap” bamboo, which is most often immature. (Trust your vendor.) The product will appear warped. Also, immature bamboo flooring may contain formaldehyde - a known carcinogen.
  • There are least 40 varieties and “looks” of mature bamboo. You can go for caramelized, horizontal, vertical, and natural bamboo designs.
  • “They don’t harbor dust mites,” says a gentleman browsing through the swatches of floor samples in the same store. “I like the clean look. I first saw a bamboo floor at a little bistro in the Village, and I thought it added class to the place. And I just found out that we’re saving trees by buying bamboo!”

Environmentally Friendly Flooring, and More Durable

"Did you know it takes an average of two to four whole trees to make a hardwood floor for just one room?" claims a website dedicated to reclaimed woods from around the world?

Why is bamboo more environmentally friendly?

Bamboo flooring doesn’t require deforestation. Also, bamboo is technically a grass and regenerates itself.

Another thing to consider is the quality factor: if you do buy real-wood flooring, today, you are buying what is known as "new wood," which, as compared to "old wood" - that used for the 1970’s housing boom - is not as durable.

Quality Bamboo is harder than Walnut, Oak, and North American Cherry. Most floors as able to withstand from 1,450 up to 2,000 pounds, per an industry-wide standard test which measures relative hardness, called the "Janka Ball Test."

Bamboo Makes Cost-Effective Sense

"It’s easy to clean," says a national vendor. "Use a damp mop!" And if you’ve got repairs that need to be made, it’s much simpler to repair than other floors - and less expensive.

"What about a warranty period?" you may be asking. "Are bamboo floors really durable?"
Yes. Most contractors will put at least a full five (5) years of a warranty behind it. There’s a Seattle company that guarantees its bamboo flooring for fifty (50) years, and many others that offer a life-time warranty behind their flooring.

Those are the companies that are fully confident in the most important factor to buying a Bamboo flooring product: choosing a manufacturer that knows how to produce quality.

Bottom line: A room where there’s a lot of traffic - such as a bathroom or kitchen - would do well to feature a natural, beautiful, environmentally friendly bamboo floor.

Eva R. Marienchild is an accomplished communicator: an author, editor, poet, artist, speaker, and life and career coach. Eva's specialties are health, home, nutrition, environment and spirituality.
© 2006