Is Bamboo Flooring All It's Cracked up to Be?One of the newest, most popular flooring choices today is made from bamboo. Bamboo flooring is touted to be the most environmental friendly selection in flooring. Marketers also heavily advertise the great strength and durability of the product.
With these ringing accolades for the product, one begins to wonder how much is reality, and how much is hype. Interestingly, some researchers have begun to examine the claims of bamboo flooring providers, and have found that perhaps bamboo is not all it is advertised to be.
- Environmental Issues
One of the largest selling points of bamboo flooring is the supposed forest-friendly nature of the product. Bamboo is actually a prolific weed, a type of grass. It grows at an astonishing rate, and initially, bamboo flooring was truly an effective use of a waste product. Farmers needed to remove bamboo from fields, and using that bamboo for flooring rather than burning it was a huge environmental boon.
Now, however, the desire for bamboo flooring has skyrocketed. In order to grow more bamboo, Asian farmers are creating additional space - by cutting down the forest. Bamboo flooring was thought to help save the forest by reducing the need for hardwoods, but in actuality is aiding in the forest''s destruction. Bamboo also does not require the use of fertilizers, but they are being used anyway to increase crop yields.
Other environmental issues to consider include the use of chemicals in the processing and sealing of the floors. Formaldehyde is used to seal almost all bamboo flooring products. Much of the flooring is processed by rural workers in Asian countries, and protective regulations are not in place to protect these individuals from harsh fumes and chemical exposure.
Bamboo flooring is often labeled as being tougher than wood. The aluminum oxide finish is designed to give a high luster and greater durability to the product. There is growing debate about the reliability of this claim. There is no doubt that bamboo flooring is beautiful in appearance with a glossy finish, but there are questions about the actual toughness of the material.
In recent tests, bamboo flooring was not found to be much tougher than traditional hardwoods. The bamboo scratches, dents, and warps in the same fashion as actual wood products. In fact, the different tones of some of the bamboo are sometimes attained by boiling the grass for long periods of time. This boiling further softens the flooring. Thus, while some variations of bamboo flooring might have a slight edge over traditional hardwoods, it is not necessarily more durable overall.
So, if bamboo does not completely live up to the hype, is it a worthy product? The answer is an unequivocal yes. The environmental concerns discussed above are not necessarily true industry wide. In fact, many of the reputable manufacturers go the extra mile to ensure their bamboo flooring products are environmentally friendly. If this point is a concern for a potential buyer, that individual should simply investigate the manufacturers of various flooring brands. There are still many eco-friendly manufacturers.
While there is not much to be done to improve upon the general durability of bamboo flooring, selecting a type that has not gone through the boiling process should produce a sturdier product. Bamboo may not be the toughest flooring choice, but it is certainly the most beautiful and budget friendly.