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Bamboo Flooring. Introduction

In the mid nineties bamboo flooring started gaining popularity in Southwest Florida. Unlike the rest of the nation where bamboo is still relatively new, our local decorators and designers jumped on the rage large scale.

The Rage
Durability Oversold
Bamboo Types and Colors
What Does Horizontal and Vertical Mean?
What are People Buying?

The Rage

In our early days nobody knew anything about the product,  just the unique appearance.  Bamboo became fashionable filling larger high end homes on Marco Island to Sanibel. Later bamboo floors were being installed virtually everywhere. The price was comparable to hardwood, but the quality was always a mystery. To our amazement some earlier versions were actually crudely hand finished in China. It was obvious with the tell tale being a buildup of finish on the ends and the ease of scratching.

Durability Oversold

Since the introduction of bamboo floors in the USA, it has always been tagged with false pretenses. We don't know where it originated, but too many uninformed salespeople followed the hardness factor to an extreme. Perhaps because bamboo is widely used in Asia in all types of building materials.

Bamboo floors are durable to some extent, but it does depend on the brand. Since the mid nineties, the number of bamboo brands has exploded. We cannot conceivably count the number on the market today. What hasn't kept pace is the number of better quality brands. Sure there are low priced brands everywhere. Our suggestion; if you're seeking a bamboo floor, do not use price alone as the determining factor.

Bamboo Types

There are basically two different types of "natural" bamboo colors. One being the natural state which is yellowish in color, while the other is  caramel, or coffee colored. Depending on the brand, there are other names. The darker colored types are not stained, but "steamed" in the early production process that brings out the richer colors.

What Does Horizontal and Vertical Mean?

For some reason it still confuses us as well, but actually is quite simple. Solid bamboo is made up of strips that are glued together..either horizontally (sideways) or vertical (up and down). They have different appearances as seen on the right. We find the vertical to appear busier than the horizontal and sales prove they are not in demand as much as the other. Horizontal offers the characteristic of "knuckles" (known as nodes in the industry) in the flooring. They are the formed as "rings" during the growing process and visible on the outer portion of the bamboo tree.

What are People Buying?

More people choose the darker bamboos but often don't realize how soft they actually are. Although we try not to steer people towards concentrating on the hardness factor of flooring, we feel it is important to note the darker colored bamboos may not be a suitable choice unless you have a careful household and pay attention to care and maintenance procedures. On the other hand, natural bamboo products tend to show dirt quite readily, but are more durable.

There are solid bamboo hardwoods and engineered. Yes, by looking at both one would think they are both engineered. However, horizontal solid bamboos are often called 3 ply, but they are a solid product with no cross ply construction, common with engineered products.

Many today are choosing engineered or cross ply bamboo because of some inferior bamboos hitting the markets that tend to show distressing in the form of cupping after installation.

 

Some higher quality bamboos hitting the market over the years include Greenwood Bamboo, who offers a selection of stained and hand scraped products along with engineered and cross ply.  More recent, Hartco by Armstrong has introduced a line of unique bamboo in a click together type installation. You can even find bamboo floors in a laminate appearance.

Greenwood Cordovan Brown Hand Scraped
Bamboo Knuckles/Nodes Horizontal Carbonized
Bamboo Knuckles/Nodes Vertical Natural
Woods of Distinction Natural Strand Bamboo
Greenwood Stained Chocolate
Hexagon Insert Into Stone Foyer. Marco Island
 
 

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