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Eco-Friendly Flooring Review: Bamboo

Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010

Bamboo is not just for pandas anymore. Its fibers are used to make clothing. The shoots of young bamboo trees are nutritious and to some quite tasty. But it can also be used for new home construction, and it makes for some spectacularly beautiful flooring.

To a lot of people, the use of hardwood trees for flooring is a poor use of a precious resource. An oak tree takes 60 to 120 years to grow. While on a larger scale, all wood could be called a renewable resource, the 'guilt tax' for a hardwood floor is a price more and more people are unwilling to pay.

That's where bamboo comes in. Bamboo goes from seedling to mature plant in just five years, growing several inches per day. It grows in a variety of climates, both in its native Asia and even here in the USA.

Bamboo provides a habitat for small animals where it's grown. Because it's basically 'mowed' and not cut down like a tree, the habitat isn't destroyed by the harvest. Pesticides are unnecessary, as the plant has natural chemical defenses against insects and disease.

All of that is wonderful, but the fact is that unless it's a good product, it won't succeed on the merits of its environmental resume alone. So here are the selling points of bamboo flooring.

  • Hardness and durability: Bamboo flooring is as hard as oak or maple, yet resilient and flexible. This means it's pleasant to walk on and easy to work.
  • Cost: While quality varies, bamboo is generally quite inexpensive, sometimes running half of the price of hardwood.
  • Upkeep: Bamboo requires some upkeep, but no more than hardwood floors. The care for bamboo is the same as for wood. Bamboo, a tropical plant, is naturally resistant to moisture. This makes it the perfect choice for kitchens and utility rooms.
  • Appearance: Bamboo floors have a unique look, unlike any comparable wood or laminate product. The grass has a system of nodes that creates darkening bands of spectacular color. Bamboo can also be finished into darker colors to match any dcor.