The Difference between Wood and Bamboo Flooring

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Hardwood

There are a lot of choices on the market today for wood flooring. There are domestic and exotic wood species that come in a variety of different styles, colors, and finishes that can make it hard to choose. Then come newer flooring options such as bamboo that break most of the rules of wood floors. This green building option is not really made of wood, although it often falls under the hardwood category. Bamboo is technically a type of grass, and therefore has its own set of characteristics.

Engineered versus Solid

For a long time, all hardwood floors were made of what is known as “solid hardwood”. This means that each plank was one piece of wood. In the last several years, however, a push has been made toward engineered hardwood, which is made up of a lot of different layers of wood topped with a wood veneer. Bamboo falls into this second category; each plank is made of a bamboo veneer that is glued to the top of several other layers of wood.

This has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that the different layers help make the bamboo more stable and able to withstand moisture, so you can install it below grade. Unfortunately, the veneer on top is not thick and bamboo is very soft, so when it scratches (and it will) you can only resurface it a few times before you hit the layer beneath.

Different Hardness Factors

Most hardwoods have a fairly reliable hardness factor. This indicates how dense and durable the wood is. Hickory, for example, is the hardest domestic hardwood, while pine is one of the softest. Bamboo is less easy to classify. Depending on the manufacturer, how old the bamboo plant was when harvested, and what color it is, it can range in hardness dramatically. In fact, a common method of deepening the color of bamboo is to heat it, which makes it darker. This also makes it softer and more likely to scratch and dent, but depending on how much it was heated this tells you just how soft it actually is.

For most residential settings, bamboo reacts and is treated just like hardwood. For high traffic areas, however, it may be considered too soft to withstand many years of use.

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