Jeremy, Other/Just Looking in Seattle, WA

Is bamboo flooring any good?

Asked by Jeremy, Seattle, WA Thu Dec 13, 2007

I have heard a number of different views on bamboo flooring. Some say that it's too soft and others say that if you get the right treatment, grade or age it will be as strong as hardwood. My wife and I are seriously considering putting bamboo flooring in our house that will be built in 2008. Who should I listen to? Is bamboo a mistake?

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47
Ginger R.’s answer
I build houses so I talk to designers. They tell me that bamboo is on its way out now. So aside from durability and price issues, my concern is that it will be dated within 5 years.
Hardwood is timeless. Also, for renovation of an existing home, I would use the prefinished hardwood. If you get true 3/4" hardwood, not engineered, you can resand just like any other hardwood. But you shouln't have to for a long time because it really is very durable.
5 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2007
BEST ANSWER
Jeremy,

In accordance to popular trends...bamboo was an inexpensive cosmetic bonus...however there are some seriously mixed reviews. I rely on consumer reports on such issues to help me determine what other consumers are saying about a product. 9 times out of 10 they are dead on. Here is a link that might help you in your quest.
8 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2007
Most people who install bamboo are looking to go "green" for the ecology. It is true that it is soft and also has a different look. One of my family members installed it and just loves it and others just do not care for it. I think it is a personal preference.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 30, 2007
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in San Ramon, CA
MVP'08
Contact
Going to Customer Reports is a great idea. But may I suggest a simple Google search about Bamboo Flooring. You'll be amazed at the info that you will get. I am willing to bet that you'll get more reliable feedback there than from a bunch of realtors, many of whom do not know that bamboo is not wood but grass... BTW, there was an excellent article in the past few days on MSN.com that talked about "how green is bamboo"?
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 23, 2008
My husband installs hardwood flooring, and he says bamboo is on it's way out. I think someone on here mentioned that you run the chance that it will be outdated in 5 years. I agree.

My husband has installed it in several homes this year, and yes, it is a softer wood and does scratch easier than other woods. If you really love it and can't imagine your home with any other flooring, go for it.
Web Reference: http://www.RotarTeam.com
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2007
Hi Jeremy - I have heard that bamboo flooring is a big mistake for one reason and that is that it can only be refinished once. Unlike hardwood that can be sanded and refinished a few times. I currently have a house listed in the Olympia area with bamboo flooring and it has many scratches and dents. Crazy. I would keep up w/your homework to find the right fit. Good luck!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2007
I, too, have heard mixed reviews of bamboo flooring. The fact that it's a bit too soft, keeps coming up, and very scratchable.

The major upside to bamboo, tends to be in the very "green" developments, as bamboo is a very fast growing "wood", and therefore is a very renewable resource, as opposed to old growth forests. So for those looking for carbon-offsets, and low impact environmental housing, it may be a good choice. It's certainly pretty.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 30, 2007
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
MVP'08
Contact
I was in the flooring business previous to real estate. Bamboo is a sustainable material. However, the look is a little more limiting to most houses. There are other sustainable woods. Weyerhaueser produces one out of South America under the name of Lyptus. There is also Eucalyptus that comes from Australia. So, if sustainable is the reason you are using bamboo, there are other options. Google sustainable forests or sustainable woods and you should get more info.

Another question that you should ask yourself if you are choosing Bamboo, what about indoor air quality? Most wood manufacturers do not consider this in the finishes and most bamboos and prefinished floors come with a petroleum based finish. Check with your flooring installation for a water based finish, as it will have less off-gassing. Also check with Environmental Home Center as they also have finishes that will be more conducive to indoor air quality.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 3, 2008
I would suggest that you look at comparable homes in your neighborhood to see what type of flooring is installed. Some other things to ponder are the age and style of the home. If it doesn't fit, you shouldn't commit! I agree with the previous agent that grade makes a huge difference in the quality of the floor. This is also the case with other wood flooring. There is a difference in value in use - meaning it would be something to install if you plan to stay in the home and enjoy the benefits vs. a "flip" where you may not be able to recoup the cost.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 28, 2008
I have Bamboo floors in almost my entire house - While I would not say it is on its way out (of course I am biased), I will say that for the most part it has held up very well after 2.5 years of heavy use. We gutted our entire house and put the new flooring in. I am only having trouble with durability in one small area of the house - near the back door where my 100 pound Newfoundland comes in and out and sleeps. She has completely ruined that part.
Bamboo is too much of a green product and renewable resource to be on its way out. Savvy buyers are looking to more green choices and I seriously doubt it will be gone in five years. Stainless steel appliances...now that is another story -

Mac's Wholesale Flooring is awesome as far as getting the best quality and price - we looked long and hard before making the choice. 206-706-8005 http://www.macswholesaleflooring.com/

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 23, 2008
I used to own my flooring business before getting in real estate, so answering your question is true what you have been told, Bamboo flooring is very soft so is ok if you take your shoes of and you dont have pets living in your home.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 30, 2007
I have only heard good things about the quality and durability of bamboo flooring. As always, it may depend on who or where you purchase it from and the quality of the installation. Be sure to do your research and possibly references from customers of the company that you purchase from.
Web Reference: http://www.rickmoore.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2007
Jeremy has likely moved on since he asked this question back in 2007. Perhaps the rest of us should move on as well?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 2, 2014
Actually, my husband and I are in a similar situation to Jeremy. This information has been incredibly helpful!
Flag Mon Jun 23, 2014
There are many different grades and finishes. It still is a great option if you buy a quality product. Usually that's not the cheapest, but the good ones are very hard and will last a long time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 1, 2014
I've heard it's strong. A lot of homes in Hawaii use it. I can't find the article I read on it not too long ago but I personally don't know what's wrong with Bamboo.

Will Jenkins | http://www.townandcountryfurniture.com/living-room/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 28, 2014
The trends are moving away from bamboo. Turns out it is not as "green" a material as we all thought initially and buyers aren't really that interested in it these days. Hardwoods tend to do better in the NW area anyway.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 27, 2014
Personally I am not of a fan of Bamboo Flooring, it does not last very long.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 25, 2014
I think it depends on how much traffic your room is going to get. We put bamboo flooring in the lower level apartment and have been very happy with it. But it's just the two of us and it does not get alot of use. I do know that it is a more renewable resource and they have come a long way. It is definitely worth going to a good showroom and getting educated on the pros and cons. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2014
My husband and I chose bamboo flooring when we purchased a home with -- wait for it -- mauve / pink carpet. We were told by the flooring salesperson that bamboo is harder than other floors. But we have found exactly the opposite. We have two dogs (one golden retriever and one german shepherd-chow mix), and their nails have seriously pitted and scarred the flooring, even after five years of wear. Personally, I would not choose bamboo again.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 19, 2014
If you care about your health, Stay away from it. Formaldehyde levels and emitting gases on your bamboo floor is know to cause cancer. The bamboo flooring industry has been lying about its formaldehyde levels. Dont take my word for it! Look it up for yourselves. Lumber Liquidators was slapped with a lawsuit over the concealment of those levels. What do expect from China!! They used to send our kids toys with lead on the paint! I am a licensed installer and if you were to call me and tell me you were doing bamboo, I would pass on your job! I am also exposed to the formaldehyde when i cut those boards. I was breathing that stuff for years!! Chances are that i will probably die of lung cancer or some breathing pulmonary problems. It all comes down to this! Its sort of a catch 22! Do you wanna be a tree hugging hippie and die of cancer? Or would you rather have your and and your family live a healthy life? I get customers that tell me that they were told that it is a harder wood!! Technically, its a grass!! And all floors will scratch and ding!! Even laminate. On wood, humidity is your biggest enemy. Even bamboo! Do the research! : )
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 18, 2014
I like bamboo flooring. My sister has it in her home. She has had it for just under 5 years. she hasn't said anything about it.

Alena | http://www.harmonytimberfloors.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2014
Bamboo is eco friendly because it grows faster than trees. But in order to create a panel of bamboo, strips of bamboo need to be glued together and molded into those panels through high heat processes. Do your homework and read how these processes and adhesives CAN result in higher levels of VOCs in the household. They may or may not be higher than standard carpeting but you should do your homework and know what you're dealing with. Toxin levels in bamboo flooring have been documented to cause cancer in animals and long- and short-term health effects in humans. Be careful. It's gorgeous but so are many other options.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 14, 2014
You can get the strength rating on the bamboo flooring you are looking at. Bamboo known to be hard. On the scale of 1-5, it's usually a 5.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 12, 2013
OK LISTEN UP. most of the comments her are from people who have fallen on their heads. I am a contractor who has also travelled the world.
Here's the scoop on bamboo flooring.

1) Bamboo grows like a weed in Asia. So don't worry about your little panda, he's ok.
2) Bamboo is one of hardest natural plants in the world. They build bridges in Asia completely out of bamboo. My floor installers need special nails to nail down bamboo because m,ost nails will bend because its so hard. So you guys who have scratched bamboo floors should stop buying your floors at the dollar store and get the real stuff.
3) Because bamboo grows like crazy, and is from Asia, (and don't worry, you won't die from intoxication from Chinese products, you protectionist tree huggers who should get off your high horses and open your eyes).
4) the richest homes with people who know style and aren't shopping at dollar store floors r us or some imitation floor and hang bag bargain store or crap like it, know what they're talking about and have gorgeous bamboo floors. Trust me, if you are actually buying bamboo floors (the real stuff) its harder than oak, maple, birch, cherry or any other floor. DO YOUR FREAKIN' HOMEWORK and stop eating the crap the hardwood floor guys are writing here.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 15, 2013
Opinion, some like it, some don't. Google it, but sounds like you already are aware of the pro's and con's. You may want to compare it to other flooring like tile, stained concrete, carpet, and etc. Do you have pets? What is the general purpose for the flooring? Are you concerned about resale value and etc, that is what I would use to help make my decision about what kind of flooring I wanted in my home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 21, 2011
The trend would show that its on its way out. I noticed it was a popular "upgrade" in cheap townhouses in the Portland Ore area back in the early-mid 2000s. But of course, its all a matter of opinion and personal tatse. Some like Stone-Cold Contemporary, some like Gilded and Ornate traditional....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 21, 2011
If anyone is think to install Bamboo flooring – please do NOT install: GOODFELLOW STRAND BAMBOO
it literally is about as durable as a Bamboo skewer. The installer laid the floor and my 20 LB dog sat down and got up and she splintered and cracked the surface through the stain and the terrible finish (her nails are short). Just walking across this floor dents and scratches it – it is total GARBAGE! It looks nice – but don’t walk on it!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 19, 2011
The problem with a lot of the bamboo that's getting dented and scratched is the age of the bamboo. If it's younger than 4 and older than 6 years old, it's soft. I'm finding great deals on 2 year old bamboo, and that's because it's soft and not ideal. Think of the money needed to invest in growing something for 5 years compared to 2.

bamboo aged properly is extremely hard and durable, otherwise, it's a waste of money unless you really like DIY projects.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 10, 2011
My husband and I remodeled our kitchen about 4 months ago and decided to use bamboo flooring. When we first installed it, it looked absolutely beautiful. However, we were not one of the smart ones who did our homework first. Our floor has only been installed four months ago and it is already all scratched up and dented. We find ourselves constantly yelling at everyone to get off the kitchen floor once they are finished in the kitchen. We had originally planned to use bamboo throughout the house been have now decided to go with hardwood.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 12, 2010
bamboo flooring is the absolute best flooring you can get. not only is it eco friendly, it is rather cheap and u can get it distressed which looks really cool. there is some kind of drama about bamboo flooring because i think people think that it is taken from the actual forests where the endagered species eat it, but i read that its actually made somewhere, or grown and is not being taken away from the endangered pandas or anything. although bamboo flooring is actually the best flooring u can get, it still has the downside of like any flooring would have, beasically dirt gets in cracks, so u have to do something about the cracks if it bothers u as much as it bothers me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 28, 2010
Hi Jeremy,
Looks like this is an old post and you've made your decision. I'll just throw my 2 cents in for others since I'm into being environmentally conscious but practical and hubby is a contractor. I love the look of bamboo in the appropriate place. It's a grass basically, considered a weed in most areas so that's why it's sustainable--it's easily grown and re-planted. I've seen it wear terribly in many houses. I saw one house that had bamboo in a kitchen. In front of the sink the floor was horribly scratched and worn down so I'd advise not putting it in a high-traffic area.

Like others have said the type, grain and finish make a difference.
Web Reference: http://SeattleHomeBuzz.com/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 23, 2010
When we buy bamboo flooring ( http://www.bamboo-floorings.com ) , the most we concern is the eco-friendly and renewable properties, in fact, bamboo is also very hard than most of wood, therefore, we encourage pepole to use bamboo flooring if possible
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 21, 2010
From what I have read there are 3 types of bamboo flooring. The strand woven, horizontal and vertical and the strand woven is ment to be hardest. I have a sample of strand woven bamboo and blackbutt hardwood floating board and put them both through scratch and dent tests. They both scratch to the same level but the strand woven bamboo dents much less easily. Of those who say that their bamboo floors dents easily it would be interesting to know if it was strand woven, horizontal or vertical.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Bamboo is funny stuff. It's rated as being harder than oak or maple, and it abrades readily, although the wear just seems to stop at the surface.
While the first thing people mention is its sustainability, it's a pretty darned good product, if you like the look.
If sustainability is your goal, remilled oak and fir fits in real nicely with Seattle houses built before the '80s.
But to answer your question, bamboo flooring is any good, and there's a range of price and quality to choose from.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 9, 2009
Strand-woven bamboo flooring(http://www.floorproducer.com) is a manufacturing process that leaves very little wasted. The excess bamboo material left over from the filleting process which goes into making natural and carbonized bamboo flooring(http://www.floorproducer.com) are compressed, intertwined and bound together to make Strand woven flooring. The binding process of strand woven flooring is a safe, UV resistant and scratch-resistant resin which also makes the bamboo even more resistant to moisture. The manufacturing process of compression results in a very hard, very durable type of bamboo flooring(http://www.floorproducer.com) that has grain patterns that are more like those of a hardwood floor.

Once again, if your next home improvement involves updating your floors, and you have the environment on your mind – consider bamboo flooring as your way of saving the environment.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 9, 2009
Bamboo flooring is available and produced in two choices of colors – carbonized and natural flooring. The colors of bamboo flooring is determined by their manufacturing processes which involve boiling. Carbonized bamboo flooring has the appearence of a smokey, carmel color in which is the result of longer boiling processes. Natural bamboo appears to have the looks of a creamy blonde color give that look a feel of warmth and brightness to the interior of your home. If I had to choose between the two, I would choose the Natural bamboo. During the boiling process, Natural bamboo remains to be the harder bamboo flooring – 30% stronger over carbonized! Either way, both bamboo flooring styles can be as hard as natural maple or oak flooring.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 9, 2009
We were about to buy Bamboo flooring for our living room. The hype sounded good and there are 10 googles pages of it , before I found this site. The other non-green issue about this product, not mentioned that I found, it the carbon boot print on the environment left by shipping this crap to Canada, or the US? Thanks for the heads up on this. We are looking at the other options. Don, Winnipeg
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 28, 2009
We recently used a product called "woven bamboo" that we found at Ecohaus. 1st of all, it is green not only as a renewable resource, but in how it was harvested. As far as durability, this stuff is hard hard HARD. On the hardness scale, oak and cherry, depending on species come in at around 800-1200 (the higher the number the harder the product). The woven bamboo we used is a 3000. It's a glue down system, because quite frankly, our nail guns wouldn't touch it.

Also the look is not the typical bamboo/linear look. I recommend visiting a showroom to see it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 26, 2009
Bamboo can be great. It's green, renewable, creates a great floating floor, and is a hard surface. It can be noisy in some circumstances. Visit some showrooms and walk on it.

Sam DeBord
Seattle Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 24, 2009
We have bamboo flooring and agree that it dents very easily. After about 3 years now, it looks horrible. There are scratches and gashes all over it. We resorted to a lot of large rugs to cover it up. We would like to get it refinished, if that would help. Does anyone know? We don't want to put a lot of money into it to only have it look like this again in a short time. When we bought it, we were told it was harder than oak. So we don't know if it is the bamboo itself, or the finish (we bought it pre-finished).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 20, 2009
Bamboo can dent easily.
We had good quality solid bamboo flooring put in part of our small house. We soon started seeing evidence that it is soft. We found lots of little dents around our portable dishwasher in our kitchen. The vendor came to look at it and insisted that it was the plastic wheels of our dishwasher that caused the dents. He said we need to get rubber castors for the dishwasher and put something under it when we move it. He also warned us to be very careful if we move other heavy items such as a stove or refrigerator. We chose bamboo with the understanding that it is as hard or harder than hardwood. Our experience is that it dents easily.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 10, 2008
We were so excited about the the bamboo floors we put into our home a year ago. They were about the same price as tile, but looked amazing. However, we have had a ton of problems with the floors. When our furniture was moved in, it put dents and gashes in almost every room. Then our air conditioner leaked water twice and the toilet overflowed into the hallway, all ruining the bamboo. It immediately warped and discolored darkly. We will probably be removing the bamboo soon to avoid mold and replacing it with something else.

To make a long story short, bamboo is beautiful, but not durable at all like the manufacturers claim.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 25, 2008
Bamboo seems to be a trendy option these days. It does strike an emotional chord with buyers I have worked with, but you are smart to question its functionality. It is softer then hardwoods and if you have dogs I would be leery. Bamboo is also viewed as more environmentally friendly since bamboo is easily renewable. Also, I do have some concern that bamboo may be one of those housing fads that changes over time. It was once thought that having your hardwood floors exposed was a sign of poverty, and remember America’s love of avocado colored appliances? Will bamboo suffer the same fate by 2015? Who knows. For my money I would recommend just putting in hardwoods. They are classic, durable and timeless.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 5, 2008
Bamboo is a great, sustainably produced flooring material. Look for local sources that can give you referal and reference on the many different products and producers. I like 'strand' bamboo which has more hardwood look. Check out the link below. It is an Enviromental Home Center in the Seattle are, but may very well be able to point to resourses in your area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 3, 2008
I'd consider which rooms you were interested in using the bamboo, type of foot traffic, et cetera, and also what is most important to you and your wife. Is it using a sustainable resource or more for aesthetics? What are the costs/warranty factors involved with this versus say repurposed wood, laminate or traditional hardwood? Does it fit with the architectural style you have selected for the home?

Hope this helps!
Audrey
Web Reference: http://www.simplystage.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 24, 2008
Bamboo is a hardwood, equal to or greater in strength than oak. As with any product, there are variables in quality. See article link below.
I would be careful in listening to the nay sayers that bamboo is 'out'. It is just getting a foothold in most areas of the county. Places that are more environmentally concious such as Seattle, Austin, So. Cal, bamboo is in high demand, and most homeowners want bamboo if they don't have it.
As for Realtors, most agents that work full time and are selling more than 12 properties a year are in the know. They do know what is selling, because they sell it all day long. As in any industry, there are rookies, and there are pro's.

[DOC] Zero Waste—You Make It Happen! Bamboo FlooringFile Format: Microsoft Word - View as HTML
This fact sheet is neither a full life-cycle analysis of bamboo flooring nor an endorsement of any ... Without a single standard measurement for durability, ...
http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/Publications/GreenBuilding/43303017.doc
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 23, 2008
Jeremy
I have heard all good, positive feedback on that, even on waterfront homes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2007
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