Bamboo is a flooring that gained popularity when the entire world started enforcing more environmentally sound products. In an effort to make a strong, durable and affordable flooring option, bamboo stepped up.
This article will cover the best bamboo flooring brands as well as cover the various types of bamboo flooring. We will also cover the pros and cons of bamboo as well as what to look for in your purchase selection.
Best Bamboo Flooring Brands
- 1 Best Bamboo Flooring Brands
- 2 Types of Bamboo Flooring
- 3 Bamboo Flooring Buyer’s Guide
- 4 Best Bamboo Brands
- 5 Pros and Cons of Bamboo Flooring
- 6 DIY or Professional Installation?
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Conclusion
There are plenty of bamboo flooring companies that make a variety of flooring solutions. Based on reviews, research and testing, these are the best brands on the market.
- Cali. One of the greenest companies around. Cali Bamboo has high ratings and strong, durable planks.
- Plyboo. One of the original bamboo flooring companies, their excellence is hard to match.
- EcoFusion. As the name implies, EcoFusion blends multiple flooring choices in an eco-friendly manner.
- US Floors. Another company that prides their green efforts, they also blend materials to create new flooring options.
- Ambient Bamboo Floors. Affordable, aesthetic flooring solutions with more options and styles than almost anyone else.
Types of Bamboo Flooring
Of all the flooring options out there, bamboo brings you the most choices. There are straight bamboo choices as well as strand, dyed or even blended. Let’s take a closer look at the bamboo flooring styles.
Solid bamboo is actually a misnomer. There is no such thing as a solid plank of bamboo. Natural bamboo doesn’t grow that wide.
When you see planks listed as solid bamboo, it is actually several bamboo slices pressed or adhered together.
In truth, a solid bamboo is a mix of various sub-categories. These (all listed below) are strands, vertical and horizontal bamboo. Each one looks different, has various hardness levels and overall costs.
The one thing about solid bamboo is that it is highly recommended that it is installed by a professional . These planks aren’t easy to install and require a lot of planning, knowledge and tools. DIY installation is not something solid bamboo is known for.
Strand Woven Bamboo
Strand woven bamboo is a form of solid bamboo where the fibers are woven and pressed together. For all testing and purposes, strand woven is the hardiest and toughest of all bamboo options .
It does create a pattern that is similar to vertical bamboo, but doesn’t have the knots (or bamboo knuckles) like you find in horizontal and other types of bamboo flooring.
Vertical and Horizontal
Vertical bamboo is made when the strips are adhered together in a vertical manner. This removes all bamboo knuckles and gives the planks a solid, uniform appearance. It is strong and durable, yet remains easy to clean.
Horizontal bamboo is just the opposite. Here the bamboo is cut horizontally and the knots, or knuckles, are kept in place. This gives the planks a more natural look and will be more recognizable as bamboo when installed.
Carbonized bamboo is another form of pressed and woven bamboo. The big difference here is the coloring. Carbonized bamboo goes through a special treatment process that darkens the color of the bamboo strands.
When bamboo is left natural there are very few dark strands. Most of the natural bamboo will have a pale, soft color, much like pine flooring. Carbonized bamboo has many shades and can go from a darker pale to almost black.
Tiger bamboo is also woven. It is a blend of natural bamboo and carbonized bamboo. The machines that weave and adhere the strands are fairly even in their selections so it is rare to get wide variations in the color choices.
However, when installed tiger bamboo is quite eye catching. You can get separate shades of tiger bamboo if you want a more random appearance. However, professional installation may not pull from the boxes in as random of an order as you would with a DIY install.
Stained bamboo is just that; natural bamboo that has been dyed a specific color. Unlike carbonized bamboo, there isn’t a process here, the bamboo is simply dyed a color and allowed to dry.
This is how you get unnatural bamboo colors and various shades. It isn’t a popular choice, though. Most people that want bamboo floors choose the flooring type for its natural or carbonized coloring.
Engineered bamboo is similar to engineered hardwood. The wear layer is made from solid bamboo and the rest of the plank is composed of layers of various wood types. This creates one of the most durable, moisture resistant and scratch resistant types of bamboo. It is also one of the highest priced.
The strength and durability alone, though allow you to install this flooring in high traffic areas without much worry of damage, marring or scratches.
Bamboo Flooring Buyer’s Guide
Before you head out and pick up the next box of bamboo flooring you find, there are several factors that you need to consider. Below, these considerations are briefly outlined and explained for you.
Type of Bamboo
The first choice is to decide which type of bamboo you want. From the extensive list above, you can see you have your work cut out for you. Not only does the type matter, but there are small things inside that group that also need to be thought about.
For example, you want older bamboo, something at least 5 or 6 years old at harvest. This will give you the thickest and strongest strands.
You also want to check the packaging to find out where on the stalk it was cut from. Lower on the stalk is better.
You also need to decide if you are going to choose the professional installation or have a large DIY project. If you choose the professional route you should check out sites like Angie’s List or even Home Advisor to assist you.
These sites will give you information and the location on contractors, experts and install pros so you can schedule quotes. Make sure you get at least 3 quotes.
If you choose the DIY method, you need to make sure you know exactly what you are getting into, learn about measuring humidity and moisture levels and you also need to pick an install type.
Most bamboo is glued down, but you can also find nail down styles. For some solid bamboo and engineered bamboo, you also have the option of the tongue and groove style click and lock install.
The one thing you need to keep in mind is that bamboo is a grass, not a wood. Because of this, it will absorb moisture from the air and subflooring. When installing you must wait at least 72 hours for acclimation, and this is once the room is prepared for install.
You will need to purchase and learn to use a moisture gauge and you can only install the bamboo when the flooring and the subfloor have the same moisture reading (within 3% of each other).
The Janka Rating is a measure of the floor’s hardness. It is a simple test to find out how much pressure it takes to embed a ball bearing halfway through the flooring surface.
For years, the Janka rating system didn’t test bamboo. As the popularity in bamboo flooring rises, so does the need for these tests.
Different bamboo will have different ratings. So will the style of bamboo. For example, strand woven bamboo is among the hardest natural flooring surfaces around with a Janka score of at least 4700. Compare this to red oak which rates at 1260 and you can see it is a sturdy flooring surface.
However, vertical and horizontal bamboo drops significantly to 1762 on the hardness rating scale. Also keep in mind this has nothing to do with scratching, swelling, or damage to the flooring surface. All of these things are more susceptible in bamboo.
Price and Warranty
Finally you will want to look at the price and warranty coverage. Bamboo is among the higher end of the flooring spectrum when it comes to price with some styles and brands going well over $15 per square foot.
The warranty is just as important, but each manufacturer will have different coverage and for different periods. You may also find that if you do not have professional installation, the warranty becomes void.Make sure you understand the warranty features, coverage and claim requirements before you buy.
Best Bamboo Brands
Below are the best bamboo flooring brands, reviewed and compared just for you. Each brand has their own advantages and disadvantages compared to the other brands. Read through and find out which brand is best for your flooring project.
Cali Bamboo is a company based in San Diego, California. They pride themselves on being one of the greenest companies around and offer a lot of bamboo flooring solutions.
In addition to their flooring, they also do reclaimed materials for decking, wall molding and other solutions. With 60% or more reclaimed, recycled or renewable resources used in all applications, it is easy to see they care for the environment.
When you shop for flooring at Cali Bamboo, you get strand woven bamboo that has the highest Janka score on the market. Their brand surpasses 5000 on the rating scale and comes in multiple install methods, including easier to install click and lock.
You can use Cali Bamboo as a one-stop shop as well. With moldings, transitions, stair and wall treatments as well as matching nosings and edgings, your entire room can be transformed with little effort.
Plyboo floors are some of the longest lasting bamboo solutions in the industry . The company has produced bamboo flooring for over 30 years. Established in 1989, they are among the first bamboo specialists in the country.
With all of that experience behind them, they know what works and what doesn’t. They also offer some of the most expensive styles around. This isn’t always bad though. They also have plenty of cost-effective solutions that utilize the higher-end style and construction.
If you are looking for unique, Plyboo offers a few flooring options that you won’t find anywhere else. One of the most talked about and sought-after flooring styles is the Plyboo Squared floor.
They make tiles using an end-grain connection pattern. The result appears like a giant grass mat and is highly durable. For style, comfort and durability, Plyboo is hard to beat.
Innovation is key to flooring companies. Those that bring new and reliable items to market will be talked about and sought-after above all others. EcoFusion is that company. Their main product is a fusion of bamboo and reclaimed materials.
This fusion between bamboo and recycled hardwood (mostly from local furniture manufacturers) beings style, quality and durability to an otherwise scratch-prone material. They also fuse with other materials to offer bamboo flooring in colors you won’t find anywhere else.
Check out Black Forest or Morning Mist for examples of rich, deep and unique bamboo coloring for yourself. If you want a bamboo floor and need it to match your current décor, EcoFusion will have what you are looking for.
Their strand woven bamboo is hard, durable and withstands multiple resurfacing passes. You also get an incredible 35 year residential warranty. There are specifics in care, installation and maintenance you need to follow, though. Make sure you read the warranty closely before you buy.
If you want a mix of style, performance and cost, US Floors has you covered. With internal brands like COREtec, Shaw and others, you can mix beauty and reliability like never before.
The world leader in flooring solutions is not messing around when it comes to quality. Each brand shares research and components to help level the playing field between their brands. This is a great benefit for you.
If you find a style you like in a Shaw floor, for example, but find it costs too much, there is a suitable COREtec solution that matches up well with your previous selection.
While they don’t have the widest selection, they do offer three variations, including Corboo, Expressions and Traditions. The latter 2 are traditional bamboo floorings in the standard natural colors and carbonized coloring.
The CorBoo strand woven bamboo is woven with natural cork for a soft, warm and durable floor that had many more benefits in the antimicrobial and anti-allergen realm than almost any other bamboo floor on the market .
Innovation and low cost are what you get when Ambient Bamboo Floors has the helm. With an average price range between $2.50 and $3 per square foot, you may expect something less. In fact, you get more.
All Ambient bamboo can be installed on top of radiant heating, is formaldehyde free and offers you a true glimpse of what bamboo can do .
Innovators of the tiger bamboo, their strand woven planks are among the hardiest and most beautiful you can imagine. Each plank is precision made with horizontal, vertical and engineered bamboo solutions as well. For the adventurous among you, they also offer a unique Eucalyptus line.
Car and maintenance are easy and the warranties (depending on type) are among the best in the industry. If you want a great bamboo floor without the bamboo floor price, Ambient Bamboo Floors is a company worth investigating further.
Pros and Cons of Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo flooring has a lot going for it. There are also some large concerns. Here I will cover the best features of the flooring as well as the negative ones.
- Eco-friendly flooring. Bamboo is a hardy, natural flooring that is among the most green solutions around. If you are looking to lower your carbon footprint and help sustainability, bamboo is a solid choice.
- Durable options. Not all bamboo is as strong as other flooring types. However, strand woven bamboo is among the most durable of any flooring solution.
- Refinish or repair abilities. Unlike laminate or vinyl planks, most bamboo can be sanded, ground or refinished several times over its life. Engineered bamboo is not on this list, though.
- Affordable. Most bamboo flooring solutions are less expensive than their hardwood counterparts. While not the cheapest option in the market, bamboo is a cost-effective choice.
- Termite resistant. Termites and a few other pests cannot digest bamboo. Because of this, they don’t even try. This makes bamboo a great choice in areas where termites and pests are a known problem.
- Anti-allergen. Bamboo resists most things that cause seasonal allergies. Mold and mildew don’t normally take hold and dust mites stay clear of bamboo. Bamboo also has properties that repel dusts and pollen. As long as your brand is formaldehyde and VOC free, most allergies will see some reduction.
- Easily scratched. Bamboo is a hardy flooring surface, however it is prone to denting, scratches and gouging. While the overall surface is tough, pet claws, scuffs and heavy furniture can cause serious damage.
- Water damage. Unlike LVP, bamboo is not waterproof, nor is it very water resistant. Even excess humidity can cause the planks to bow and swell. It is not recommended for wet area installs.
- VOC. The glues used to keep the planks together as well as adhered to the subfloor may contain VOCs or formaldehyde. Make sure you purchase a high-quality bamboo marked as 3rd party tested and VOC and formaldehyde free.
DIY or Professional Installation?
The biggest question is will you hire a professional installer or do the work yourself? A lot of flooring options make DIY installs a breeze. Vinyl planks are the easiest to install and laminate isn’t much more difficult.
However, bamboo is a long and tedious process that requires specialized tools, the perfect environment and a lot of math and calculations. If you plan to install the bamboo flooring yourself, your best option is to go for engineered bamboo.
If you use any other type of bamboo you need to plan for at least a week to install. That’s time without the use of the room, furniture or other needs. Acclimation takes at least 3 days, though 5 to 7 days is suggested.
You also need to account for constant temperature and humidity changes during the install, and the resting period can alter depending on the region of the country you live in.
For these reasons, it is highly recommended that you hire out the work to a contractor. Some of the best in your area will be found through word of mouth or through sites like Angie’s List.
Through the use of these sites, you can read actual customer reviews, see licenses, insurance, availability and general costs. Getting three or more quotes will also give you an idea of how much the project will cost, both in time and money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now I will answer some of the more common questions about bamboo flooring. If you still have concerns, feel free to reach out using the comment section below the article.
Q. How long to bamboo floors last?
- The average life of decent to moderate bamboo flooring is about 25 years. Cheaper bamboo cannot be resurfaced or sanded, and the lifespan is much shorter. If you stick to high quality brands with good residential warranties, you shouldn’t have a problem. With high-end bamboo you can resurface a number of times, adding another 20+ years to the life expectancy.
Q. What happens if the bamboo floor gets wet? Can you mop bamboo floors?
- If bamboo gets wet, it can crack, swell, bow or come unglued. It is not recommended that you use a wet mop or a steam mop on bamboo flooring. A spot cleaning for spills or stains is acceptable, but you should dry the area as best you can afterwards. See more here on how to clean bamboo flooring.
Q. Are bamboo floors any good?
- Bamboo floors are a great choice for many homes. If you want a green flooring solution that is hardy, affordable and easy on the eyes, bamboo has you covered. You do need to take extra precautions with install and care, though, which is a negative mark for many.
Q. Will bamboo flooring increase my home’s value?
- Like vinyl and laminate, bamboo isn’t known to increase resale value of the home. However, it will add a little compared to those two options. Currently the only option for flooring that does add any notable resale value is hardwood flooring.
Q. Do bamboo floors scratch easily?
- Bamboo does scratch easily. However, it is also one of the easiest floors to repair. When you do get surface or small scratches you can use a wax pen to scrub out the scratches. For deeper scratches, gouges or larger areas, bamboo flooring can be resurfaced (not engineered bamboo, though).
Bamboo flooring is a great choice for homes with the need for a rustic look, prefer natural materials and like to help the environment. There are a few negative aspects, but most can easily be overlooked.
When shopping for bamboo flooring, it is important to choose a high quality plank from a well known brand. Hopefully this article helped you narrow down your search and gave you all the factors to consider before you make that final purchase.