In recent years, bamboo flooring has become a trendy alternative to traditional timber. An extremely durable material, bamboo has actually been around for years - first used several thousand years ago by ancient Chinese civilisations.
A more environmentally-friendly option, the long-lasting material is quickly becoming a go-to for home renovations. In the last decade, bamboo flooring has become more accessible as prices have lowered.
How is it made?
Bamboo is technically grass but is still incredibly hard-wearing.
Although predominantly formed by fusing countless strands of bamboo together though high pressure and heat, there are two different ways to manufacture bamboo flooring.
The most common method, strand-woven bamboo is a collection of finer strands moulded together to form the planks your used to seeing.
“These strands are then glued back together to form a sheet or beam from which raw boards are cut,” writes the 2012 ATFA publication Bamboo Flooring Industry Standards.
“For internal flooring each of these processes can provide quality product. Due to the pressing processes with strand woven products they are denser and harder than laminated flooring.”
Laminated – vertical, horizontal
Perhaps not as common, the lamination method typically deals with larger pieces of bamboo.
“Laminated product initially requires small sections about 30 mm wide to be machined in rectangular shapes,” suggests AFTA.
“The dry rectangular pieces are then either glued horizontally or vertically to provide the desired style of product.”
What colours are available?
During the manufacturing process, the colour of bamboo flooring can actually be altered to look like popular timbers. Different shades of brown, beige and off-white are available to mimic the look of other hardwoods.
Sealing & coating
If you're looking to get the most out of your bamboo flooring, sealing twice a year will help maintain it's durability.
When applying a sealant, ensure that the surface is clean beforehand to prevent any residue or grit sticking around. Most sealants can be found at any DIY store such as Bunnings.
Bamboo flooring can be installed like most other hardwoods. The two most common methods are as a a floating floor or with glue or nails.
Just like many other timbers, a floating floor is your most common option: joining planks together without fixing them to the surface beneath.
If you're looking for another method, attaching the bamboo flooring to the subfloor via glue and nails is your other option.
As mentioned above, in recent years, the cost has certainly come down, making it a viable option for home-owners.
Per square metre, bamboo flooring will set you back about $90 to $150, including installation.
This compares with traditional timbers which range from $80 to $200 (the most expensive grade) per square metre, including installation.
Given the durability of the product, the reduction in cost has seen it become a much more attractive option.
Pros & Cons
When it comes to deciding whether bamboo is the right choice for you, it's important to evaluate the positives and negatives.
As mentioned, the price is attractive, but the environmental impact is equally appealing. Growing bamboo is a lot quicker ( can be harvested every four to six years) and the energy needed to produce bamboo flooring is far less.
The durability is an important factor to consider. Long-lasting material is friendly on both the environment and your wallet.
While the benefits are undoubtable, unfortunately, some bamboo floorboards are produced with toxic glues. And despite it's durability, unfortunately, the surface is susceptible to scratching - something that will need to be attended to every three to four years.