Home » Bamboo Flooring vs Hardwood – Pros, Cons and Cost

Bamboo Flooring vs Hardwood – Pros, Cons and Cost

Bamboo is the only natural flooring material that isn't hardwood but still behaves much like a hardwood. Both types of flooring are durable and attractive while adding real estate value to a home.

Most homeowners find it difficult to make a choice between the two. So, to help, below is a comparison for bamboo flooring vs hardwood.

Bamboo is a type of grass that can be processed to produce strong, durable, and versatile materials for home improvement products, including flooring.

Bamboo flooring is thus classified as a hardwood due to its strength and appearance.

Bamboo Flooring vs Hardwood – Pros, Cons and Cost

Bamboo flooring is manufactured by slicing or shredding strands which are then compressed using heat and adhesives to form flooring planks.

The boards are made with tongue and groove for nail-down installation or with a click-fitting profile.

Bamboo flooring can either be solid, engineered, or laminated but structurally different. The structure of a bamboo determines its quality, cost, and durability.

Types of bamboo flooring based on their structures include:

  • Horizontal bamboo:  The strands are cut into small thin strips which are dried and glued together horizontally to form planks with a wide and more evident grain pattern.
  • Vertical bamboo: The thin-cut strips of bamboo are dried and glued together vertically to form flooring planks with a thinner, less evident grain pattern.
  • Strand woven: The bamboo is shredded into strands and fibers that are mixed and highly compressed into planks with random grain pattern. This is the strongest, most versatile, and most expensive type of bamboo flooring.

Just like a hardwood flooring, bamboo comes in different color options and finishes.

Bamboo can be left to appear natural in its blonde or golden hues or be carbonized to darken the surface into coffee-brown tones.

Bamboo Flooring Pros

Bamboo offers several advantages:

Renewable resource

Bamboo grows fast and the stalks are harvested repeatedly without environmental damage.

This is unlike hardwood harvesting. Trees take many years to grow, and cutting them down causes environmental concerns, especially if they're wild and not farmed trees.

Bamboo is strong

A high quality bamboo floor is harder than some species of hardwood.

Strand-woven bamboo is an example of a strong and versatile flooring material that performs better than some hardwood flooring.

Affordable material

The cost of horizontal or vertical bamboo runs from $2 to $4 per square foot. At the same time, high quality strand-woven bamboo costs around $3 to $5 per square foot.

On average, installation of bamboo floors costs about $5 to $7 per square foot. This is significantly lower than installing traditional hardwood flooring, which averages between $6 and $13 per square foot.

Stylish appearance

Although not available in a wide variety of colors, bamboo offers a clean, contemporary appearance that befits a modern interior décor.

Like hardwood, bamboo flooring is uniquely attractive due to its grain patterns and rich hues.

Easy to clean

Like other hardwood floors, cleaning of bamboo flooring is a simple, easy process.

Dust and loose dirt debris are easily removed by sweeping with a soft bristle broom, a dust mop, or by vacuuming.

Damp mopping is done occasionally using a bamboo floor cleaner.

Sanding and refinishing

Quality bamboo flooring can be sanded and refinished to remove scratches or dents and make it look new again.

Although some types of engineered bamboo planks may not be thick enough to be sanded, you should check with the manufacturer before making an attempt.

Resistant to heat

Bamboo is slightly more resistant to heat than hardwood flooring.

Although you'll want to discuss the possibility with the manufacturer, you may be able to install it over a radiant heating system.

Bamboo Flooring Cons

Of course, no flooring is perfect, and we would be remiss to not discuss the downsides of any product. So, the following are disadvantages of bamboo flooring.

Prone to scratches

Low quality bamboo flooring can easily scratch or discolor. However, this concern can be mitigated if you go for an expensive, thick material that can be sanded and refinished.

Susceptible to water damage

Bamboo flooring boards can easily absorb water, swell and buckle, or grow mold. High or low humidity also causes bamboo to crack easily.

It is thus not the right option for humid climates. With bamboo flooring, humidity should be maintained between 30 – 50%.

May contain toxins

Adhesive or glues used in binding strands or for installation may contain toxic chemicals that are harmful. Make sure this is not the case in any bamboo flooring you purchase. 

Safe bamboo has to be tested for toxins and labelled formaldehyde-free.

Limited to contemporary look

Bamboo flooring lacks varieties of tones and natural looks that are usually characterized by knots found in hardwood.

The limited contemporary tonal shades makes it unfit for most traditional décors loved by homeowners.

Bamboo flooring vs Hardwood

Hardwood is the king of flooring materials whose character cannot be compared to any other type of flooring.

Here are the reasons for choosing a hardwood over a bamboo flooring:

Hardwood is highly durable

While the cost of bamboo flooring is less expensive, this cannot be compared to the maximum value a hardwood flooring offers.

On average, bamboo can last up to 50 years. Hardwood flooring, on the other hand, can last a lifetime — and then some.

Hardwood can be sanded and refinished many times

Hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished numerous times without compromising quality.

This is not the case for bamboo flooring, where most types cannot be sanded multiple times.

Hardwood flooring is naturally attractive

Hardwood is a warmly inviting flooring material that offers multiple color options for homeowners.

The charming, natural appearance of hardwood makes it suitable for every décor style. From light to dark hardwood floors, you will find a perfect match for your home.

Hardwood flooring is safe

There are no toxic adhesives or chemical treatments used in milling or installation of hardwood flooring boards.

This makes it a safe option for every household member, including pets.

Hardwood flooring comes in varieties

There are plenty of hardwood species whose cost varies from cheap to expensive.

Even the least expensive hardwood offers a sense of satisfaction and value for the money.

This gives a home developers great options for choices based on budget, appearance, value, and satisfaction.

Similarities

  • Both are prone to water and humidity damage
  • Both flooring types can be infested by termites
  • Bamboo and hardwood flooring offer real estate value to a home although at different scales
  • Both flooring types can be sanded and refinished as long as you are dealing with a top-quality bamboo
  • Installation for both hardwood and bamboo flooring requires skilled labor
  • Both hardwood floors require good care and maintenance to remain in good shape

Verdict

Although not a typical hardwood, bamboo flooring looks like one.

A top-quality bamboo flooring will offer maximum value and satisfaction just like a hardwood flooring.

Less expense bamboo becomes expensive to maintain — and this is where a hardwood flooring becomes the best option if you were to make a decision between the two flooring materials.

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