Bamboo flooring is similar to hardwood but comes from grass rather than a tree. Like hardwoods, bamboo is available in solid or engineered planks, different colors, and many plank sizes.
Learning the pros and cons of bamboo flooring can help you determine if this is the right product for you or if you’re better off with a different option.
Pro: Bamboo Flooring is Durable
Bamboo flooring has about the same durability as hardwood floors – lasting at least 25 years. High-quality bamboo is more scratch and dent resistant than many types of hardwood. It’s a safe flooring option for high-traffic areas like living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms.
Con: Bamboo is Susceptible to Water Damage and High Humidity
Like hardwoods, bamboo is susceptible to water damage. If water is left standing on bamboo for a prolonged period, it can absorb the moisture and swell. Since it isn’t fully waterproof, avoid using bamboo in high-humidity areas like bathrooms and basements.
Pro: Bamboo is a Renewable Resource
It takes about six years for bamboo grass to reach maturity for flooring. When harvesters cut the stalks of bamboo, they continue growing, eliminating the need for replanting. In fact, cutting bamboo makes it grow even faster. The bamboo growth and harvest process has little impact on the environment.
Con: Some Bamboo Flooring Contains Toxins
Manufacturers slice bamboo stalks into pieces, then press them together with heat and an adhesive. In low-quality bamboo flooring, the glue sometimes contains formaldehyde.
The formaldehyde in bamboo flooring is similar to the amounts in many brands of engineered wood floors and sheets of MDF. If you’re worried about the potential effects, look for alternative adhesive options with a ‘formaldehyde-free’ label.
Pro: You Can Refinish Bamboo
When your bamboo looks dull or shows scratches, you can refinish it. There are some exceptions though – for example, if you have engineered bamboo with a thin veneer, sanding can be risky. Likewise, the strongest type, strand woven bamboo, doesn’t absorb stains well, but this type of flooring should last decades without needing to be refinished.
Con: Dark Bamboo is Less Durable
Bamboo comes in many light shades. While it also comes in darker shades, dark tones of bamboo are ‘carbonized,’ which means they’ve been heat treated to achieve a deep color. The heat treatment reduces that floor’s durability making it more susceptible to scratches, dents, and moisture damage.
Pro: Easy to Care For
The maintenance of bamboo is the same as hardwood floors – sweep as needed and mop with a gentle PH-neutral cleaner. There are no special steps in caring for bamboo.
Pro and Con: Bamboo Has a Distinct Grain Pattern
While bamboo works similarly to hardwoods, the grain pattern doesn’t feature any hearts or knots, with few variations. Bamboo has a straight-line pattern with varying density and features a distinct aesthetic.
Bamboo works great in modern designs, but it doesn’t lend itself well to traditional or vintage interior design.