Bamboo Flooring – Questions and Answers

Bamboo is a flooring material that is growing in popularity for its environmental benefits and its purported hardness. Possible environmental benefits aside though – more and more frequently, consumers who have installed bamboo flooring are dissatisfied when they learn how hard (or soft) their new floor actually is. Furniture, high heels, and other hard or heavy objects are likely to mar or damage your bamboo floor – it must be treated with just as much care as a regular hardwood floor surface.

As a grass, bamboo can grow as much as a foot per day, making it a much faster growing crop than other comparable hardwoods. However, one common misconception is that bamboo is much harder than most hardwoods – according to industry experts, this is simply not true. The darker carbonized bamboos are comparable to black walnut, while lighter and higher-altitude varieties are similar in hardness to maple. So high heels or other shoes will certainly damage bamboo flooring, for all that it goes by names such as “vegetable steel”.

Another major draw for many users of bamboo flooring are its non-toxic properties. Most bamboo floorings have considerably lower levels of toxic chemicals than carpet or other comparable flooring options, so they are considered even safer for enclosed spaces such as inside of a home. However, if this is a concern then it’s important to note that not all manufacturers use the same practices in processing bamboo into flooring. You’ll want to make sure that independent testing (if there is any) verifies low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) off gassing from the flooring.

So depending on your reasons for purchasing bamboo flooring, it can be an excellent choice environmentally, but may not be up to the levels of hardness that some marketing messages suggest. If you are buying bamboo rather than hardwood flooring solely on the basis of the expectation of greater hardness, you might reconsider your decision, as most bamboos are no harder than the majority of hardwoods. If your purchase decision is made on the basis of environmental benefits, bamboo is a clearly renewable resource, and an obvious winner for the planet.

Steven Patrick has been an interior decorator for most of his adult life. When he is not quoting for new projects, he writes for – an incredible online flooring resource with information about wholesale carpet, flooring manufacturers, flooring installation and more.

Steven Patrick
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