From pilot to contractor: (17) Four reasons why I used bamboo flooring
Bamboo looks great, is hard as nails, provides unmatched value... and is eco-friendly. However, you want to watch out for manufacturers who use urea formaldehyde as the gluing compound.
By John Bleasby
I get a kick when I tell people about the bamboo flooring in the new house. The look on their faces would suggest they imagine a series of bamboo reed mats. Then I explain that our bamboo flooring is in fact a highly sophisticated product like any other they see in the flooring section of any building supply store.
But oh! The advantages of bamboo! Here are four reasons I decided to use it…
(1) Looks Great
First of all, is it highly attractive. We selected the ‘edge grain’ look. We preferred that versus the alternative ‘flat grain’ which emphasises the fluted shape of the bamboo stalks. The light ‘natural’ colour we selected also suits the interior brightness of our home; however there were many other colours we could have chosen, from caramel ambers to walnut browns.
(2) Hard as Nails
A neighbour asked the other day: ‘Is it dog-hard?” We laughed, knowing exactly what she meant. Pets and teenagers take a toll out of a floor finish. However, bamboo has a Janka hardness number that is significantly higher than oak, maple or many other exotic hardwoods available on the market. We can count on the floor looking good for many years.
(3) Unmatched Value
And then there is cost. Bamboo flooring is significantly less expensive than the hardwoods. We paid about $5 per square foot for solid bamboo flooring. This is no laminate or engineered top veneer; this is a solid bamboo product. Do your comparisons and see what I mean about value for the money. There’s nothing close.
(4) Eco Friendly
If you are ecologically sensitive, know that bamboo grows like a weed in the Far East making it a very desirable renewable material. Bamboo can earn you LEED points in a commercial or institutional project or just feel-good points if you are building a home.
Research your Supplier
I do advise some research and caution, however. The manufacturing process for some brands of bamboo flooring can include the use of urea formaldehydes in the gluing compound. This is not good! The Europeans have standards that limit urea content. Sadly, I have not been able to confirm that North America has any such standards at all! However, some importers in Canada will issue certificates to certify that their products meet European standards, which is one way to reduce risks resulting from this potentially toxic substance. However, we found a product line that avoids the issue entirely by using a soya-based glue that in fact has no toxicity at all! Given the difficulty in confirming under what circumstances bamboo materials are manufactured in China, it is very important to do your research on this subject.
Other Forms of Bamboo
By the way, you can also purchase bamboo as a 4 x8 sheet product under such names as ‘Plyboo’ or ‘BamPly’. We did just that and will use the bamboo sheets for feature walls, shelves, vanities counters and furniture pieces in the new house. The sheet material has the same attractive grain linearity we love, is available in a variety of colours and, because of its beautiful exposed edge grain, offers numerous opportunities for unique applications and installations.
Bamboo will be part of your building at some point in the near future.