If you're looking for the pros and cons of bamboo flooring, this article will help you out. Hardwood floors aren’t going anywhere! For those looking for a greener, more affordable alternative, however, bamboo flooring is quickly growing in popularity.
Bamboo requires less time and fewer resources to grow than hardwood trees. Yet it looks nearly identical to real wood when installed as household flooring. In fact, bamboo is more durable than many varieties of hardwood.
Meanwhile, bamboo’s relatively recent burst in popularity means that industry regulations are sparse. Low-quality bamboo flooring scratches easily and engineered planks may emit harmful gasses. You also can’t install bamboo flooring in moisture-prone areas.
Still, bamboo is a wonderful solution for many homeowners interested in replicating the look of authentic hardwood! Here’s everything you need to know about the pros and cons of bamboo flooring before installing it in your own home.
12 Pros and Cons of Bamboo Flooring You Need To Know
Pros of Bamboo Flooring
1. More Sustainable Than Wood
Bamboo isn’t actually wood! (Bamboo is a type of grass. Not a tree.) But it could be a more environmentally friendly option to regular hardwood. Hardwood grows incredibly slowly. Even the fastest-growing tree species max out at a couple of feet of growth per year.
Meanwhile, bamboo can grow up to 3 feet in one day!
The reason bamboo’s growth rate is so good for sustainability is that it requires much fewer resources to produce the same amount of raw material. Bamboo farms also take up much less acreage than an equivalent number of trees.
2. Attractive Finish
Bamboo is so frequently compared to real hardwood because the two look very similar. This is great news for anyone dreaming of hardwood flooring without the potential cost.
Bamboo flooring pairs well with modern and contemporary decor styles. Bamboo planks offer a light, airy aesthetic that can make a room feel larger and brighter than it actually is.
3. Possible to Refinish
Like hardwood, bamboo flooring can be periodically refinished throughout its life. This extends the lifespan of bamboo floors compared to materials like tile, laminate, or carpet.
Refinishing is a great way to remove minor scuffs and scratches on the floor’s surface. Resealing the bamboo after sanding can also boost its overall durability.
4. Easy to Clean
Bamboo flooring can be easily cleaned with little more than a broom and mop. Mild, bamboo-safe soap will keep your floors dirt-free while protecting them from future damage.
5. Great Durability
Bamboo is naturally harder than almost all varieties of hardwood. This is an obvious benefit when using bamboo as a home flooring material. Some bamboo flooring is more durable than others.
For maximum strength, look for planks made of strand woven bamboo.
6. Affordable Installation
On average, bamboo flooring is less expensive than hardwood. Keep in mind, however, that you often get what you pay for! High-quality bamboo planks may cost a bit more but will hold up to wear and tear much better than their cheaper counterparts.
Cons of Bamboo Flooring
1. May Scratch Easily
Bamboo may be incredibly durable. Unfortunately, it is not 100% indestructible. Scratch damage is the most likely issue you’ll encounter with bamboo flooring. Pet claws are likely culprits, as well as furniture legs scraping across the surface.
Shallow scratches can be completely removed via refinishing. However, refinishing requires time and money not everyone wants to be spending on a frequent basis!
Investing in high-quality bamboo is the best way to ensure your new flooring will stand up to everyday abuse.
2. Prone to Moisture Damage
While nearly all hardwood and wood-like flooring materials are sensitive to moisture, bamboo can be particularly so. Bamboo flooring that is exposed to moisture can warp, distort, or stain. Once this damage has occurred, it can’t be easily repaired with refinishing.
Do not install bamboo flooring in a bathroom, mudroom, or anywhere wet floors are a regular occurrence. Think carefully before using bamboo planks in a kitchen as well.
Again, higher-quality bamboo flooring will stand up to moisture much better than low-quality bamboo.
3. Poor Quality Control
You may have noticed that whether bamboo makes good flooring largely depends on the quality of bamboo used. And it’s true that there is a wide variety of bamboo qualities available on the market.
Hardwood flooring also comes in different qualities. Naturally, higher-quality hardwood and bamboo cost more. The tricky part about bamboo flooring is that there is no industry regulation regarding quality.
Yes, many manufacturers categorize their bamboo planks by grade. But these categorizations are entirely arbitrary and aren’t beholden to any oversight. In other words, it’s not enough to shop for bamboo planks at face value.
So be sure to do your research before deciding on a particular type of bamboo flooring for your home.
4. Fewer Color Options
Hardwood flooring is available in practically every shade under the sun. The same can’t be said for bamboo flooring. Most bamboo planks come in general light, medium, and dark shades. For many homeowners, this color selection is plenty.
But homeowners looking for a very specific color will be disappointed. One of the main reasons for this lack of selection is how bamboo reacts to stain. Although bamboo planks can be stained like hardwood, the fibers often don’t absorb the product evenly.
This leads to a splotchy finish that few people find desirable.
5. Engineered Bamboo May Contain Formaldehyde
If you’ve been considering bamboo flooring for a while now, you may have already heard that bamboo flooring contains formaldehyde.
While this is becoming less of a problem with time, it’s true that some engineered bamboo planks are manufactured with trace amounts of urea-formaldehyde. This formaldehyde compound may continue off-gassing even after installation in the home.
Solid bamboo planks from trusted sources are the best option to avoid formaldehyde exposure.
6. Sourced Almost Exclusively from Asia
The fact that the majority of Earth’s bamboo is grown in Asia isn’t inherently bad. But it does mean that finding locally sourced bamboo flooring is impossible for most people.
Internationally sourced flooring contributes to transportation emissions. It also makes it harder to know whether the bamboo was farmed responsibly.
Bamboo is no miracle product. But it is by far the best alternative to solid hardwood flooring currently available! Bamboo floors offer nearly all of the same benefits as hardwood while being better for the environment.
As long as you purchase solid bamboo planks from a trusted source, you can expect decades of beauty and durability from your new flooring. While there are some issues with quality control in the bamboo industry, there’s a good chance things will improve in the near future.
There are also many initiatives looking to cut down on issues like deforestation and transportation emissions, which would make bamboo flooring even more sustainable than it is now!