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How Bamboo Flooring is Made

Apr 9, 2008
Bamboo is an environmentally friendly flooring option that is beautiful and dependable. Bamboo is a renewable resource in that it reaches maturity in as little as three years, rather than the decades it takes for most hard woods to mature. Bamboo is actually a tall, tree-like grass that grows all over the world. What follows are the steps typically taken in the manufacture of bamboo flooring.

Obviously, the first step in making bamboo flooring is to harvest the bamboo. Bamboo grows all over the world, so this could happen anywhere, although if the bamboo is intended for flooring it probably comes from China.

After harvesting bamboo, which usually takes place in three to six years, the bamboo's outer layer of green skin is removed and the logs, or technically stalks, are sliced into long strips. These strips are also called "fillets." The strips are then cut into a width appropriate for the particular flooring being produced. In many cases, the next step is a darkening process. The bamboo strips will be steamed under pressure, which helps bring out a more robust color. Unfortunately, the steaming process tends to soften the bamboo, making it more susceptible to scratching and damage. For this reason, darker bamboos may not be good choices for flooring in highly trafficked areas of a home or business.

The bamboo strips will then be graded for quality. A bamboo flooring manufacturer will often sell its lower quality bamboo to other companies for use in discount flooring. It is sometimes, but not always, the case that heavily discounted bamboo flooring is derived from these lower quality bamboo strips.

In order to lock in a certain degree of moisture, the strips are then dried with a kiln, prior to final milling. Moisture content is a very important component of a wood used for flooring. Bamboo that has too much moisture may shrink and show gapes in the flooring. After drying, the strips are glued together to form wider strips, or planks. The planks are then hot pressed to permanently bind the strips together.

The planks are then milled to form the final hardwood flooring pieces that can be assembled together to form a floor. Bamboo floor planks often incorporate the traditional tongue and groove system for installation, although there are some popular alternatives.

Excess bamboo resulting from the milling work described above is used to create a different type of flooring called "strand-woven bamboo flooring." Another name for it is "distressed bamboo flooring." This type of bamboo flooring is made by laminating the excess bamboo with some type of adhesive. The material is then pressed under great pressure. The resulting product is then milled and finished, resulting in a wood flooring plank that looks much like any other.

Bamboo is rapidly gaining popularity as a flooring choice for homes and businesses. However, you may find wide differences in the quality of bamboo flooring from one retailer to the next. It is advisable that you acquire a sample before making the investment. Assuming you are buying from a retailer of high quality products, you will be amazed at the beauty and utility of your new bamboo floor.
About the Author
For more information about bamboo or bamboo flooring, visit WorldFloorsDirect.com, a company specializing in wood flooring that originates from managed sustainable forests.
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