Bamboo Flooring, an Affordable Alternative to Hard Wood Floors

Bamboo Flooring, an Affordable Alternative to Hard Wood Floors

As builders and homebuyers seek for greener, more economical alternatives to hardwood, bamboo has become more and more attractive. Because of its rapid growth-rate (4 to 6 years to mature) bamboo is seen as much more sustainable than hardwood trees, which can up to 60 to 70 years of growing before they are ready to be harvested.

Perhaps just as attractive as the renewability of this resource is the affordability. Per square foot, bamboo often beats out hardwood on cost, though installation costs are about the same. You’ll see a range of prices in bamboo flooring, but beware low-cost, soft flooring types that may scratch easily and fade when exposed to sunlight. The maturity and treatment process the bamboo undergoes to become flooring material can both affect the quality and price. And, as with most quality building materials, it’s good to remember that you often get what you pay for when it comes to bamboo.

Comparing Quality with Hardwood

Hardness varies with the species of bamboo you are working with. Some species, like Moso, can average a hardness-rating greater than maple or red oak. One disadvantage of bamboo when compared to hardwood is its limited refinishing options. Hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished over and over again. Bamboo flooring might only be able to withstand sanding and refinishing one or two times before it must be replaced. So it’s more important to choose a bamboo species for hardness and durability if you’re planning on making it last. Look for flooring that comes with a long-term warranty as well.

There are also differences between engineered and solid bamboo floor types. Engineered bamboo flooring consists of a top wear-layer of bamboo with engineered layers of core-material beneath, which gives the flooring more stability and resistance to humidity, which is ideal for basements. Solid bamboo floors, on the other hand, are completely solid bamboo from top to bottom, without no wear-layer and no core layers.

Bamboo stacks up quite well against traditional hardwood when it comes to quality, but you have to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each type of bamboo when comparing it to hardwood.

Pattern and Coloring Options

Bamboo can be stained nearly any color, which gives you a huge array of options when designing a space with it as a floor covering. And when you’re working with matching patterns, different color options can also allow you to design beautifully contrasting design inlays and accents.

Staining often has the effect of flattening out or concealing the natural texture of the bamboo planks, evening out the color for a less textured appearance. The darkness and pigment of a particular stain can be chosen to mimic stains on traditional hardwood species as well. If you do decide you’d like the “grained” look of a bamboo floor, you typically have the option of either the horizontal pattern, where the bamboo stalks were flattened horizontally prior to being pressed, or the vertical pattern, where stalks are sandwiched sideways. The horizontal style makes plain the bamboo origins of the floor; you can see the bamboo “knuckles” at regular intervals. Vertical patterns create much thinner grains within each plank.

While bamboo’s popularity is still growing, it’s quickly becoming an attractive choice for home installations. The many color options mean that you aren’t sacrificing selection when compared with hardwood, and the environmental benefits are real and significant. With bamboo flooring costs being cheaper, it really is a viable alternative to traditional hardwood floors.

Author Bio: Jared Sanders is a flooring expert at Ambient Bamboo, a leader in the alternative flooring industry. Ambient Bamboo carries a variety of styles and colors, offering you an inexpensive option for your bamboo floor. Click here to buy bamboo flooring.


  1. one
    Comment by Alternative Flooring: Aug 17, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Excellent article….Bamboo flooring as highlighted has many advantages and is becoming increasing popular. Bamboo is the ultimate in alternative flooring and I am a big fan

  2. two
    Comment by Alex @ Acteon: Oct 2, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I have always loved hard wood floors but they cost really expensive. Well I guess this is good news for me. Bamboo flooring seems to be a good alternative indeed especially that it is more eco-friendly than hardwood.

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