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Types of Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring comes in a wide variety of styles and colors, with wide distinctions among grains, finishes, and colors. Many companies carry stock stains on bamboo and a few companies will let you special order any color you want.

Grains

Horizontal vs. Vertical vs. Strand

The grain configuration depends on how the flooring is manufactured and creates the overall look for your floor. If the bamboo stalk was laid flat and then cut into strips, the grain is horizontal and shows the nodes of the plant. If the floor was manufactured in a vertical fashion, its canes were first cut into narrow strips and hard pressed together vertically. This gives the product a grain that doesn't show the nodes. Strand woven construction consists of strips of bamboo that are compressed to create a unique grain that resembles a more traditional hardwood. This is also by far the hardest type of bamboo and is usually much harder than most hardwood flooring options.

 

Colors

Natural vs. Carbonized vs Stained

Natural is the natural color of bamboo plants, which is often described as a blonde color. Carbonized is usually brown to dark brown and is achieved by placing the bamboo in a kiln to be heated, carmelizing the natural sugars in the wood resulting in a darker shade. Stained floors are just like any other wood floor, the top layer is stained. If the strand woven bamoo floors are too dense they won't hold the stain and finish well.

 

Solid Bamboo Flooring

Solid bamboo flooring is composed entirely of bamboo. The stalk of the plant is divided into even sections and then milled and pressed into flooring planks. Solid is available in natural or carbonized and horizontal or vertical, or stained floors. The planks can be nailed to plywood or glued to concrete sub floors.

 

Engineered Bamboo Flooring

Engineered bamboo flooring typically has a 1/8" thick "wear-level" or top layer that is solid bamboo flooring. The core is compressed layers of other types of wood or fiberboard, usually oak, poplar, or teak. This allows for a more stable floor in areas of fluctuating humidity. Engineered floors can be glued, nailed, or floated. Ask your installer or supplier for recommendations.

 

Strand Bamboo Flooring

Strand bamboo flooring is constructed using shredded fibers from the bamboo stalk, woven together and pressed under extreme heat and pressure with adhesives. This process creates a marbled grain that is unique and beautiful; usually available in both natural and carbonized. Some companies offer it stained now as well, and some offer a handscraped version. Be aware that stranded bamboo can also be sold as engineered floor, but this product has not had a very successful history when wood is used in the core layers. Strand woven bamboo flooring can be glued or nailed down and several companies warrant it for use over radiant heat flooring. The density of strand bamboo flooring makes nail downs tough and can create splitting or cracking in the tongue unless an experienced installer is putting it down.

 

distressed Bamboo Flooring

distressed bamboo flooring is also known as handscraped flooring and has a ruffled or wavy effect across the planks to create a more antique look. The core of distressed flooring is solid bamboo, so it has roughly the same durability of red oak. This category of bamboo is often stained, so look for a supplier with a quality finish. distressed bamboo flooring can be glued or nailed in the same way as solid bamboo flooring.