Bamboo flooring may not be your first thought when considering what flooring to lay especially as there is such a huge range on offer but then again why not choose bamboo? After all, when people are thinking about what floor to buy, they normally consider the following factors; durability, ease of laying, suitability, environmental benefits, aesthetics and of course value for money and Bamboo has all these attributes and more.
Let’s consider these points and see; Is Bamboo really a good alternative flooring to traditional timbers or other types available?
Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, it can grow up to a 1metre a day and only takes 3 months to reach a height of 20-30 metres and then only 5 years before it’s mature enough to be harvested. After harvesting, the mature bamboo stems are split in longitudinal direction and the outer skin is removed, after steaming the bamboo which caramelises the sugar to create the darker shades and drying, the strips are ready to be joined in several ways to create the final product.
There are 3 main types; Plain pressed where strips are placed horizontally and glued together to create staves of approx. 20mm wide with the characteristic nodes clearly visible, Side Pressed where strips are placed vertically and glued together, so each strip is approx. 6mm wide and the nodes aren’t so visible, these two types being similar in hardness and durability to an Oak and then High Density or strand woven as it’s known where the strips are roughed up into strands, and glued under high pressure to create a random grain pattern resulting in a floor that is even harder than the best tropical hardwood species but still with only 5 years growth!
In terms of Installation options most people want to know; does my floor have to be fully bonded or can it be floated? This generally depends on the application and whether there are other factors to be considered such as under floor heating (UFH) or the type of substrate or the type of plank fixing you opt for i.e. Click or T&G.
Bamboo is a very stable material but will shrink & swell with changing humidity so floating (not glued or nailed) can be an option as long as it’s laid with an underlay, generally with a click edge for greater hold and more importantly a 10-15mm gap should be left around the perimeter to allow the floor to expand into this space (this gap is usually covered by the skirting). Also, a floated floor area can be no more than 6m wide or 12m long before expansion gaps should be inserted.
A fully bonded floor is generally preferable as it expands and contracts as one surface, so movement is minimal, it tends to feel more solid and stable under foot, and the tongue and groove edge profile works well and when used in conjunction with UFH either a wet or electric system where the floor is more susceptible to expansion, a fully bonded floor provides more stability for the changes in temperature.
As for where to lay bamboo flooring, we would say you can use it anywhere you’d lay an Oak floor so do not be put off by thinking it can’t be used in a bathroom or a kitchen environment because it can. The strand woven / High Density option is one of the best choices for any busy family household where there are children racing around on scooters or skateboards or for entertaining and parties or for pets as the surface is harder and more durable than the likes of Oak or other hardwood species.
In Bathroom installations we always say good ventilation is key and surface water is to be removed when spilt as the bamboo is still prone to movement but only if not looked after. We have a range of flooring colours, textured surfaces and effects which give choices for the use of bamboo in different rooms so you can never have too much bamboo!
Moso Bamboo flooring offers clear sustainability advantages and is proven to be CO2 neutral over the full life cycle from the growing phase, production, use and end of life. It’s long been known that bamboo has hypo-allergenic properties which improves the environment for allergy suffers but more recently customers are asking about the VOC’s or Formaldehyde content; is bamboo a safe option for my children or my new-born? What I can say is Moso bamboo flooring has the lowest emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and with the use of eco-friendly adhesives with no added formaldehyde, can comply with the strictest European emissions norm of E1 or EO.
Cost wise just because bamboo is sustainable and super durable doesn’t mean it’s more expensive than its timber alternatives in fact bamboo prices per m2 are very reasonable with prices typically ranging from £20-£30/m2, ex vat making them an attractive affordable option.
So why not choose bamboo as your durable, easy to install, sustainable and aesthetically pleasing cost-effective alternative to traditional timber floors!