Bamboo flooring is now a major worldwide player in the Hardwood Floors Sanding market and with its stunning good looks, resilience, sustainability and cost effectiveness it is easy to see why.
Everyone knows wood flooring is healthier, longer lasting and cleaner than other forms of floor covering. But in the past decade or so eco-aware homeowners were understandably concerned about carbon footprint and the impact on the already stretched-to-capacity rain forests across the world. Then along came bamboo, and this hardy grass has proven a godsend to those who want sustainable flooring that doesn’t cost a fortune to install.
A grass not a tree
Bamboo works because it is a grass, not a tree and therefore grows more quickly, thus making it sustainable. When the plant is harvested the root remains so that the same plant can grow back to maturity within 7 years and with oak or teak taking 150 years or more to mature then the sustainability option is clear. Some of the giant bamboo species are known to grow an amazing 39 inches or 100cm overnight, which is due to a particular tuber arrangement.
The bamboo itself is easy to work with and is extremely adaptable and lends itself to enhancing a range of rooms including kitchens, utility rooms and bathrooms. This is because bamboo is completely resistant to water, mildew, mould and germs. Bamboo can also be used as pool edging and decking.
The versatility of this hardy plant means that bamboo can be stained to any colour or simply varnished. Unfinished bamboo is also a popular choice for those who enjoy the minimalist style. With all this going for it, no wonder bamboo is the favourite of all types of homeowners as well as people on a budget.
Most commonly grown and harvested in Asia, bamboo has generated local wealth and is a sustainable crop, as well as its traditional properties for use in building, as medicine, food, clothing (in a cotton blend) and also in its raw state.
The bamboo is cut into stalks, which are not unlike traditional wood planking, and is then graded. Bamboo gets its colour during the purification process during which it is immersed in boiling water to remove parasites and starch. If the bamboo is steamed it will retain a naturally darker colour.
When the process has been completed the planks are formed at bamboo mills, where the stalks are sliced into strips and machine pressed and glued to form the floor boards. These boards are treated in exactly the same way as any other type of hard wood and arrive for export in measured and cut lengths, fully smooth and with rounded-off edging for ease of fitting.
This versatile plant offers a variety of colours, which can of course be stained or left alone by the end user. Bamboo in its natural state resembles pinewood in colour. Bamboo that has been carbonised (steamed) is a darker caramel colour. Should you decide to opt for carbonised bamboo please be aware that this process does remove some of the innate strength of the floor (which can be as much as 10%). Bamboo can also be stained and is versatile enough to look great stained either hand painted, or the stain can be applied with a rag for an arty finish.
If you are purchasing bamboo direct from the supplier then always ask about the finishing technique as some of the finishings can be toxic and illegal for indoor use in the UK. If you are unsure ask any experienced floor specialist company who will be delighted to help.
Mix and match
If you enjoy your bamboo floor you can make a theme by adding bamboo linens, blinds, matting, ornaments and toys.