Bamboo Flooring: Reviews, Best Brands & Comparison
Not many options for your home look as polished, sleek, and refined as hardwood floors, but you can come extremely close with a few different materials. One of the best affordable yet durable options out there is bamboo flooring, an overlooked choice but one that really deserves a second glance.
What is Bamboo Flooring?
Bamboo is an all-natural flooring material type made from the bamboo plant, originating in China and other nearby Asian countries. There is many types of bamboo plant, but you’ll find that Moso is the strongest species, and most commonly used for this kind of flooring.
As far as aesthetics go, bamboo looks very similar to hardwood floors, and can be sanded and stained to get a polished finished. There are many reasons why a lot of homeowners are choosing this all-natural material for their floors, but you’ll be the judge for what the best option is for you.
This guide covers everything you should know about bamboo floors, the best brands to buy, their starting cost points, and address any problems and concerns.
Benefits of Bamboo Flooring
As bamboo grows in popularity among homeowners and renovators, a conversation has been opened as to why it’s such an appealing option for so many. Some of the main selling points that attract so many include:
Eco-friendly for a happier earth. Bamboo is a type of grass that is a renewable resource, and it grows in bountiful amounts. There is no shortage of bamboo on the Earth, so you’re not hurting the environment in any way when you use the material. Going green has become a big priority for many people, and bamboo is the best way to go about that. No waste,like vinyl or carpet will have, and you’re not hurting the forests by using genuine hardwood.
Cost effective. As one of the cheaper options out there, choosing bamboo flooring can be easier on the wallet when compared to a lot of other types of materials. This is made possible by the volume of bamboo plants, the overseas labor costs, the nature of the plant, and the growing popularity. A lot of places offer cheaper installation costs, too, so you’ll find an easier time affording a professional to do the work for you as opposed to carpet, hardwood, or vinyl.
Lots of variety & individuality. With an appearance similar to hardwood, bamboo loots great and can be designed in several ways.By nature, it’s a pale plant, but it can be carbonized to grow darker. The way the grass is cut and pieced together will affect the grain style of the flooring pieces. You have a slim style, or one that is more grainy and shows the knots, like oak floors. Every piece of bamboo is unique and special in its own right, so your floors will look extremely modern and stylish. It’s a very contemporary choice.
Easy to clean. Like hardwood, bamboo is finished with a protective coat that is fairly water resistant. Spills are easy to clean up and it’s not easy to stain the material, even with the darkest of substances. It can handle a mop and chemicals perfectly fine. Unlike carpet, you don’t need to take any special care when cleaning your floors, and they stay resilient and durable through decades of use without staining or wearing down from spills and dirt.
Easy to refinish. Nothing is perfect, but the good news is that bamboo can be refinished and restored to its former glory. It’s pretty easy to do, and not many other materials can boast about this aspect. This is another way that bamboo is a great eco-friendly option – it’s reusable and long-lasting.
Cons of Bamboo Flooring
Of course, like anything, bamboo comes with a few downsides, as well. Not every family will find their perfect fit with the eco-friendly option, and some of these deterrents include:
Less durable than hardwood or other options. Overtime, you will see a quality decline in bamboo floors. The darker the flooring, the sooner it will wear down because carbonized bamboo becomes soft. Weather can also play a part in softening the wood, especially in open areas where humidity gets in. Bamboo also can be scratched easier due to this softening effect.
It’s not 100% weather-resistant. Just like hardwood floors, lots of water or a consistent exposure to it will break down the quality of the bamboo quicker. This includes moisture and humidity. The material can warp, soften, or develope weather spots much faster than usual if it’s in a wide-open environment where nature gets inside easily. Most homes won’t have to worry about this much, but it’s probably not wise to finish your basement with bamboo flooring.
Still new enough to the scene there isn’t as many options or information available. After two decades in the scene, bamboo has become a standard option for many hardware stores and home improvement companies, but it’s not quite a familiar choice yet. Brands, styles, and installation availability aren’t as easy to locate as some of the more mainstream options, and the specific information about your product, it’s manufacturing, and location can be a little vague.
Most options are overseas and not 100% reliable. There is a lot of controversy related to oversea companies and their labor laws and ethical practices. As green as the material itself is, not every company will use these manufacturing rules to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum, and some overseas production plants can be a little unethical. Plus, you have to worry about the difference in laws relating to toxic emissions of VOCs. Some extra time researching your bamboo plant brand may be required to ensure you feel good about your choice.
Top 5 Popular Bamboo Brands
With the rising popularity of bamboo floors, many companies will look at the material as a standard option, so you won’t have to look too hard to find it. Your local hardware store probably has some in stock, since even the big name brands like Lowes, Home Depot, and Menards have plenty of options for the material.
Some of the best brands for bamboo floorings have amazing deals that rival even the cheapest materials, like vinyl, but every brand is different. Depending on your needs and priorities, you can identify the company best suited to your home from these popular bamboo brands.
Teragren. This company has been a top choice for homeowners due to their strong ethics and moral compass. Though all natural, bamboo brands aren’t always transparent about where their materials are sourced from, but Teragren is an honest company with the proof to support this promise.
Cali Bamboo. Following close behind Teragren, Cali Bamboo is a reliable company that checks every box. Long warranties, several styles and colors, and a durability promise keep this company, founded in 2014, growing more and more.
Ambient BP. The lifetime warranty and extremely cheap prices make Ambient a wonderful choice for those on a strict budget. With a reputation that precedes them, the company is ethical and meticulous in their manufacturing. You might have seen them on television, and many people are drawn to Ambient BP for bamboo flooring due to their online accessibility.
Tesoro Woods. If you’re needing a sturdy material with a promise of long-lasting durability even in weather-severe environments, Tesoro Woods is your best bet. You have less style choice when it comes to color and pattern, but they have a proven manufacturing method that creates the strongest bamboo floors out there, and a reputable work ethic.
Trinity Bamboo. As the cheapest option on the list, this China-based company has been a major player in bamboo manufacturing for four years. They give reliable proof that their floors are created ethically and safely, and you can easily order your styles online with free shipping. The downside is they aren’t as durable as some of the other brands, and you won’t get professional installation offered with their company specifically.
How to choose High-Quality Bamboo Flooring?
Like hardwood, bamboo flooring doesn’t come in one standard “one size fits all” formula. There are different types of bamboo flooring, each with benefits that oppose the others. Knowing the different types can help you choose the best quality for your home. Let’s discuss the 3 main types of bamboo flooring.
bamboo flooring with different colors
Bamboo strand styles
Classic bamboo. This is just bamboo, plain and simple, laid together in vertical or horizontal planks. You can have any color or surface style, and it’s the most attractive option. This is also a very inexpensive option. However, classic bamboo without any other materials is much easier to scratch up due to its softening tendency, and has the shortest lifespan.
Solid strand bamboo. When you hear “solid strand”, think about just pure bamboo wood the whole way through your flooring pieces. There is nothing else in the materials, just bamboo. This is great for durability, and can even be up to 3 times most sturdy than engineered hardwood, since it’s its purest form of bamboo. It is not, however, as resistant to the weather and can be prone to some shrinkage. It can refinished up to 5 times, but that will be an additional cost to consider.
Engineered strand bamboo. A thick layer of bamboo rests on top of recycled paper pulp base. It’s cheaper, it’s sturdy, and it’s long-lasting due to the increased weather resistance the base offers. You’re getting a cheaper and more eco-friendly option with engineered strand bamboo, but it can only be refinished twice, and may have a shorter lifespan.
In addition to different bamboo types, you have your various installation methods that suit each kind of material, too.
Nail down. Whenever the nail down approach is used, you’ll hear the term “tongue & groove”. This refers to the style of the bamboo pieces and how they fit together. If your subfloor is wooden, you can use this method by connecting your interlay pieces and nailing them down to the subfloor below. It’s a sturdy option that has less run limits and holds up well against wear & tear, but it’s a little harder to remove for refinishing.
Glue down. Using the same tongue and groove style of bamboo pieces, this method is used for concrete subflooring. It can be done with wood, too, but nails are recommended for maximum durability. Gluing your pieces down creates an easier experience that can be removed without difficulty later, and it’s a very cheap installation price.
Floating. Otherwise known as the “click & lock” method, the bamboo floor pieces are fitted with ends that push together and create a strong lock. They are not attached with nails or glue to the flooring below, which makes their refinishing easier. Instead, they can be locked together with or without glue. Shrinkage and durability are your main concerns here, and engineered strands work the best to help defend against these downsides.
There is more to choosing your flooring option than just style. Paying attention to substance is an essential part of getting the best deal that will last a long time. Once you’ve decided on your styles and brand, make sure you’re getting the highest quality available by checking out these defining factors.
Moisture. You want to make sure that your floor can withstand some weather exposure and regular wear and tear from your family. Asking about moisture level proof will help give you an idea of the lifespan you can expect from your flooring. Aim for a level of 6% at minimum, 9% at most. This will give you the most for your money.
Harvest. The older the bamboo plant, the stronger it is. Asking about the harvesting information relating to your brand’s manufacturing code will also help you determine if it’s a strong quality. Plants should be at least 6 years old before the harvest, and have thick, strong trunks. Ethical companies will have proof to offer that explains their harvesting methods.
Warranty lifetime. No one wants to have to turn around and buy new floors in a decade or two, so paying attention to what the company warranty includes can save you money and a headache years down the line. Some manufactures will offer lifetime warranties, which is obviously the best option, but you’re more likely to find 25-50 year ones included in your purchase. Any purchase you make should include, at minimum, a 25-year warranty.
Compare these different variables with our list of the most trustworthy brands and do a little price-checking. If your favorite brands offer the style of bamboo and installation you’re looking for and it fits your budget, you just found your new flooring!
Your final total for a bamboo floor installation job will vary depending on the brand you purchase and the square feet you’re fitting. On average, most homeowners are facing a $500 installation fee at the end of their project.
This is looking at an average of $4 or less per square foot, and it doesn’t always include the materials costs themselves. By price checking different brands and inquiring with companies about what they offer, you can lower this cost.
Hardwood floors on average cost between $5-$8 per square foot, so many homeowners have found that bamboo flooring saves them a lot of money in the end. Carpeting is even more costly, sometimes as much as $12 per square foot, so bamboo is undoubtedly one of the least expensive options for the durability it has.
Bamboo Comparison Guide:
So, you feel almost sold on bamboo floors, but you still want to consider your other options. That’s good! It’s important to look at your choices from all angles before settling on your decision. We’ll take a look at the other leading materials homeowners use and compare them with bamboo flooring.
Bamboo vs Carpeting
Almost any house you enter will have carpeting on their floors somewhere. Many homes contain several different materials from room to room, depending on the need and purpose of the location. Carpeting, while pleasing to both the eye and touch, is one of the most expensive options there out, plus the hardest to clean.
When you compare bamboo and carpet floors side-by-side, you’re looking at some major differences, but they’re not too different from what you’d find with any material going up against carpet. With bamboo floors, you’ll save money and time, and rugs can be used to soften up popular living spaces.
The pros of bamboo flooring over carpeting?
- Easier to clean
- A more refined, polished appearance
- Far more affordable
- Longer lifetime
- Can be refinished over time
Bamboo vs Hardwood
As far as similarities go, hardwood and bamboo find themselves head-to-head quite often in the flooring materials debate. Both aesthetically and durability wise, they come pretty close, but bamboo flooring has some distinct differences that several prefer over hardwood. Let’s look closer at what these are.
Bamboo is naturally more resistant to water than hardwood, despite its weakness for humidity. You’ll get a less expensive material for a longer time. Hardwood has its perks, too, of course. It’s not as easy to scratch up and it won’t soften overtime.
The pros of bamboo flooring over hardwood?
- Easier to clean
- Far more affordable
- More variety in styles
- Can be refinished over time
- An eco-friendly option that helps saves forests
Bamboo vs Vinyl
Price wise, vinyl is your cheapest flooring option, and a lot of people are sold on that alone. Many homeowners on a budget choose vinyl for the low cost and pretty good durability, so if this is the route you’re already considering, you may find a lot of benefit in using bamboo instead.
Both have their bad points, but bamboo flooring will stand up better to damage and wear & tear than vinyl will. Plus, you can refinish bamboo, unlike vinyl which must stay fully intact until the whole floor is ready to be remodeled.
The upside that vinyl does have going for it? It handles damp or humid conditions better than the natural bamboo plant can, due to it’s man made creation. Bamboo has a much better resale value and life for the money you pay, so it may be worth the extra investment.
The pros of bamboo flooring over vinyl?
- Far more visually pleasing
- Can be refinished over time
- Easier to change, remodel, and restore
One important thing to keep in mind is that several parts of your home will require different materialistic needs. Your basement is less suited for bamboo, just like your bathroom is less suited for carpet. Bamboo is an affordable alternative to a lot of floor styles, but don’t let yourself feel confined to just this option.
Play around with the variables and take carpet samples in to see what they would look like with your bamboo style options. Creating a happy, cozy home is your priority, so let yourself think big. You may find yourself using several materials, so look at this guide as a way to help you get to that finished picture.
Is Bamboo Flooring The Best Choice For You?
Any decision regarding the completion of your new home or remodeling project will come with a lot of debate, time, and care put into the thought process behind it. Knowing your options and having a clearly outlined budget can help you identify what is your best option. For many, bamboo is becoming a more obvious choice both financially and ethically.
It’s a great flooring option for nearly any home, but only you can decide what is best for your lifestyle! This article helped shed light on what bamboo flooring is, the benefits of it, and why it could be the perfect finishing touch on your home. Ready to make the purchase?