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Home Renovation Flooring Choices: Bamboo vs Hardwood

Jul 23, 2008
Recently, bamboo flooring has risen significantly in popularity. That's because people are hearing that this type of flooring lasts longer and is more environmentally friendly than many kinds of hardwood flooring. It's a good choice for a number of different situations, and has many advantages.

Of course, the benefits of bamboo don't mean that it's perfect for everyone. There are some reasons that hardwood is traditional, and in an antique home, it may work better. It takes longer to put in hardwood flooring, but for some, the look outweighs the trouble.

Bamboo is one of the more attractive types of floor, but it won't look the same as wood. This type of flooring varies little in color, making it more uniform.

For some, this is a benefit, but for others, it's a reason to avoid bamboo. If you're not certain which you prefer, remember that bamboo is a lot more convenient. The pieces are ready to install and there's no dust and little mess.

If you love a traditional look, or are restoring a vintage home or building to its original state, you may be turned off by bamboo. However, the market is beginning to develop bamboo flooring that looks a lot more like traditional wood. So, in the future, you may have more options than simply using difficult to sustain wood floors.

Oak, maple, and similar hardwoods are the most common materials used in traditional floors. They're beautiful and durable, but problems may occur over time. Wood can warp and splinter if exposed to heat and cold, or to changes in moisture.

Many people also feel that hardwood flooring is too expensive and environmentally unfriendly for use in the majority of homes. Bamboo grows up to thirty centimeters a day, while hardwoods can take years or even decades to reach a size where they can be harvested. A bamboo grove that's sustainably managed can be harvested every few years by comparison. Add into that the decrease in proper management of hardwood forests, and you have a serious concern.

Bamboo is a faster growing material that requires no fertilizer to produce and can be farmed relatively sustainably. However, it's still a good idea to know where your bamboo flooring is coming from. There are farming operations that plant monocultures and use chemical methods to increase yield. This makes bamboo less sustainable.

These irresponsible practices are most common in countries with little regulation, such as China. A little research will tell you whether you're getting quality, environmentally friendly bamboo or not. A large percentage of the products on the market are made with "good" bamboo - an important concern for those who want to decrease their impact on the world around them.

Compared to hardwood, bamboo will last a lot longer, and stand up better to daily wear. For those who are still concerned about the life of their bamboo floor, warranties are available. Remember that you get what you pay for - buy a product that's made to last, rather than a bargain.

Where contraction and expansion are issues, you'll find that bamboo offers a favorable performance. Unlike hardwood veneer floorings, bamboo will hold up to a number of resurfacings, and there's no treatment or waxing required. To make sure you get a product that's non toxic and fully sustainable, look for flooring that uses glues that won't off gas and don't contain toxic chemicals.

Anyone who's curious about how bamboo flooring holds up when compared to hardwood should take a look online. It's easy to see the whole range of available products and find out more about this great type of floor. It could be right for your home.
About the Author
Bamboozle, based in Perth WA, makes their own bamboo floor product (called Bamwood), due to inherent weaknesses they found in "normal" compressed bamboo floors. Bamwood is a new breed of superior bamboo floor, suited for the harsh Australian environmental conditions. Visit bamboozle.com.au
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