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Bamboo Flooring Myths and Facts

MYTH 1. Bamboo flooring is soft / hard.

FACT: Strand woven bamboo flooring is the hardest type of wood flooring on the market, which makes it an incredible value. "Classic" bamboo floors (horizontal and vertical) are comparable to Northern Red Oak. However given enough punishment, any floor will scratch. The protection against scratches is only as strong as the finish on the flooring, and more coats does not necessarily mean a stronger finish. High number of finish coats is usually indicative of a low-quality Chinese finish being used. Preventative measures such as area rugs and walk off mats help protect the floor just as with traditional wood.


MYTH 2. Bamboo isn't eco-friendly because it has to be shipped here.

FACT: You might be surprised to know that most traditional wood floors sold in the U.S. are shipped all the way to China first for milling and finishing, then shipped back. Even for those that aren't, if you live on the West Coast and buy an Oak or Maple floor (which comes from the East), there is more embodied energy in that product than a Bamboo floor made near the coast in China and shipped over the water. Ocean freight is simply that much more efficient.


MYTH 3.Pandas suffer because of bamboo harvesting.

FACT: The species used for bamboo flooring is Moso, which is not on the menu for pandas. Pandas eat over 30 different types of bamboo, most of which is found in the highlands in the Pacific Rim. The Pandas will not go hungry because of bamboo harvested for flooring.


MYTH 4.Bamboo is ready to be harvested after only 90 days of growth.

FACT: Bamboo stalks can reach full growth maturity after about 3 months, but they do not reach full strength potential for 5 to 7 years depending on growing conditions. This is still highly preferable considering most hardwood trees take 60 years to mature.


MYTH 5.All bamboo flooring is the same.

FACT: This is a common misconception that costs homeowners a lot of money. As opposed to other hardwoods like oak, bamboo is not graded, so be prepared to have problems with lower priced products. Bamboo flooring companies vary in the raw materials, milling, and finish they use in their products. Check the sides of the samples for large holes, and scratch the finish. Thicker planks are more stable. The best finish for bamboo flooring is aluminum oxide; it is one of the most durable and long lasting finishes on the market, and one of the few that works well with bamboo. The only downside to this finish is that scratches are slightly more visible during the initial wear period than on other wood floors, however they quickly fade if the floor is properly maintained and regularly swept. That said, you should always use felt pads under furniture and movable items on your floor.


MYTH 7. You are dealing with a manufacturer.

FACT: Most Bamboo flooring mills source their raw materials from a huge array of sources, so be wary of claims by American "manufacturers" (in reality, most are just importers). The reputable companies are very involved on the manufacturing side and most have their floors created from Moso Bamboo, which is the sturdiest species and is almost exclusively plantation grown (which helps with consistency). Just remember that typically you get what you pay for - again, ordering and testing samples from multiple companies is a wonderful way to protect yourself from ordering a floor that will crack or cup in a year.


MYTH 8. Bamboo is full of formaldehyde and/or is unsafe for you and your family.

FACT: Some wood floor suppliers that don't sell bamboo would love to have you believe this. Almost all bamboo floors sold in the U.S. are 100% safe to live on. If you want to really ensure what you're buying is safe simply check the brand's indoor air test results and ensure they meet the CARB 2 indoor air standard. The amount of formaldehyde in quality bamboo flooring is many times less than the typical finish on regular furniture in your home.

Be wary of any supplier that claims their bamboo floors are formaldehyde-free. It is more accurate to say that the floors have no formaldehyde off-gassing. What they usually mean is that the flooring meets a NAUF ( No Added Urea Formaldehyde) standard, which is just about all strand woven bamboo floors on the market today. Almost all bamboo floors made currently use trace amounts of phenol-formaldehyde resin during the manufacturing process but no more than other every-day household furniture and cleaning products.


MYTH 9. Bamboo flooring is completely water proof.

FACT: Bamboo flooring is less susceptible to water damage than most traditional hardwood floors, but it’s still susceptible. All liquids should be cleaned and dried as quickly as possible.