Bamboo floors are attractive, durable and eco-friendly. As a result, they’re becoming extremely popular among homeowners looking for greener alternatives to regular hardwood.
Two of the biggest benefits of bamboo are its capacity to regenerate quickly and its extreme sturdiness. (Strand-woven bamboo has a Janka hardness rating almost three times that of oak.)
In spite of its popularity, a quick Google search may yield a lot of negative claims that may leave you confused and, ultimately, misguided. The truth about bamboo flooring is that it has evolved over the years, and, even today, not all types are equal or serve the same purpose. This has resulted in a great deal of outdated information and outright myths about bamboo floors.
Bamboo Flooring – Myths and Facts
With so many myths and misconceptions surrounding bamboo flooring, it’s easy for consumers to question the relevance and certainty of their benefits. Below, we debunk some of the best-known bamboo flooring myths and get to the facts behind them.
Myth #1: Bamboo Flooring Is Soft and Vulnerable to Breakage
Fact: When bamboo flooring first came about in the early ’90s, it had a bad reputation for being soft and vulnerable to scratches and dents. However, advances in manufacturing have brought forth certain types of bamboo flooring that are more durable than the hardest traditional hardwoods. From glued bamboo strips to steel hydraulic-pressed planks, bamboo flooring has come a long way in the last few decades. For example, modern strand-woven bamboo floors are over three times more durable than traditional vertical or horizontal bamboo flooring.
Myth #2: Bamboo Floors Contain Formaldehyde
Fact: Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring chemical substance found in many things, including apples, shampoo, and even the air we breathe.
Lately, there has been a rising concern over abnormally high levels of formaldehyde found in low-cost laminate floors, which has been linked to serious diseases like asthma and cancer.
But that’s not true for high-quality bamboo floors. Generally, the lower the price, the higher the chances of formaldehyde emission, and vice versa.
When buying bamboo flooring for your home or business, always consult a reputable flooring contractor and ask for proper certifications that mention formaldehyde emission standards.
Myth #3: Bamboo Flooring Is Not Suitable For Dry or Humid Climates
Fact: This myth has evolved from the fact that bamboo contracts and expands just like any other wood flooring. All solid wood floors distend when exposed to high humidity and moisture and shrink when dry. Luckily, gaps and distortions can be avoided by properly drying and acclimating the bamboo for one week prior to the installation. Locations with extremely low or high humidity may need a longer acclimation period. You can also use a humidifier and dehumidifier to avoid such problems.
Myth #4: Bamboo Flooring is Not Suitable for Commercial Set-Ups
Fact: Depending on its quality, finish and Janka hardness rating, bamboo may or may not be the right flooring choice for commercial applications. Generally, the higher the Janka rating, the harder or stronger the wood. Bamboo floors with a score of 5000+ lbs. can effectively hold up to high-traffic commercial areas like office buildings, department stores, hospitals, schools, and so on.
Myth #5: Bamboo Planks Cannot Be Installed Over Concrete
Fact: Bamboo can certainly be installed over concrete. However, you’ll need a vapour barrier on top of the existing concrete floor to prevent moisture-induced problems like cupping and warping, which are common with hardwood floors.
Myth #6: Bamboo Floors Lack Colour Options
Fact: Some people think bamboo floors are available only in an ordinary, blondish wood colour. In reality, woven bamboo flooring comes in an extensive range of colours and designs. Almost any colour or texture that you’d usually find in hardwood flooring, is also available in strand-woven bamboo. So, whether you like the traditional blonde look or want something more modern, like chevrons or whitewashed floors, bamboo has it all.
Myth #7: Bamboo Flooring Is Expensive
Fact: Many people choose bamboo when they want to save money on their flooring. If your heart is set on hardwood but it’s too expensive, bamboo is a great option; its cost per square foot is way less than many other hardwood floors, like oak and mahogany. You can also save money on bamboo flooring installation, provided you choose the right method.
Myth #8: Bamboo Floors Are Hard to Maintain
Fact: Bamboo is easier to care for and maintain than solid wood. All you need to do is sweep or vacuum it regularly to prevent small particles and debris from scratching it. You may also occasionally damp mop it using a non-wax, non-alkaline bamboo floor cleanser. You must also take care to protect the floor against standing water and direct sunlight. In case of excess scratches, dents or discolouration, the surface can be sanded down and then treated with a high-quality sealant. Engineered bamboo flooring, however, cannot be refinished.
If you’re considering bamboo for your next home improvement project, don’t let any misinformation fool you. Now that these myths have been busted, you can (hopefully) make a well-informed decision.