Bamboo Flooring – Pros and Cons

Bamboo Flooring – Pros and Cons

Given that House of Bamboo® has been importing sustainable bamboo related materials since 1975, we’re experienced with how bamboo related products, like bamboo flooring, ought to be harvested, manufactured, processed, and handled to perform optimally for its function. There is a lot of information out there with regards to bamboo flooring so we hope to help inform you better.

Bamboo Flooring Price – why does it vary so much? 

The differences between the various bamboo brands can be tremendous – there are good quality bamboo flooring materials and then there are bad quality flooring materials. The main differences that affect the products’ overall quality are: harvesting, ability to dry and the glues and chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
 
Harvesting Bamboo 

Harvesting bamboo affects the hardness of the bamboo raw material.  While bamboo grows and reaches full height at an extremely fast rate (3-4 months), it still requires several years (6-7 years) to mature internally to reach its maximum density and peak hardness. When flooring manufacturing companies use bamboo that has been harvested prematurely, it is easy to understand the result is weaker bamboo flooring. Only companies that control everything from growth to harvest can ensure the bamboo is at its peak hardness.
 
Drying Bamboo

Drying bamboo is critical with regards to acclimating the flooring product.  Being that most of the bamboo comes from sub-tropical environments, the bamboo needs to be artificially dried (ideally in a kiln) to bring it to a suitable moisture content percent. This assists in preventing shrinkage or modifications in shape of the finished product. Kilns and other drying equipment, including operational costs are expensive to run and this is generally reflected in the end bamboo flooring price.
 
Glues and formaldehyde 


Glues and chemicals used relate more to toxicity than durability, though very inferior glue can cause product failure. Glues used in making bamboo are generally one of two types: phenol and urea based.  Both are a formaldehyde derivative, though Urea is considered a toxic carcinogen and Phenol is considered relatively inactive.  Where quality matters and low toxicity is important, phenolic resins should be used, although they are more expensive to buy and use. The bamboo supplier should meet OSHA and/ or E1 health standards.
 
FSC-certified (and what it means)

Only some bamboo flooring companies are FSC-certified which indicates the manufacturer values sustainability and healthy forest manufacturer. FSC is your assurance that the bamboo has been harvested from forests monitored for the protection of endangered species, pesticide use, economic sustainability and respect for workers’ rights. If a manufacturer has paid the fees to source FSC material, they likely understand the intrinsic value in using low-VOC glues.
 
Potential for market confusion (green-washing)

Unfortunately “green washing“ is very prevalent in the bamboo flooring industry especially because of bamboo’s popularity and its emerging market potential. Consumers are being mislead regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. In essence, just because a product is made with a renewable raw material like bamboo, it doesn’t mean that the bamboo product is sustainable or the company supplying or selling the product is sustainable either. Keep in mind an increase in popularity brings about competition and for many it becomes about providing the best bamboo flooring price.
For further information on bamboo flooring please contact House of Bamboo®.
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