Bamboo is a natural resource that is known for its hardiness, durability and rapid sustainability. Considered a grass, bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth, often reaching two to three feet of new growth in less than a day.
While on the stalk, bamboo is tough but not very hardy, it goes through a manufacturing process to produce a flooring plank that is akin to hardwood. There are various types of bamboo and each one has it’s pros and cons. Today, we look at strand bamboo.
Best Bamboo Flooring Benefits
- 1 Best Bamboo Flooring Benefits
- 2 What is Bamboo Flooring?
- 3 Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Bamboo for Your Floors
- 4 Strand Bamboo Pros and Cons
- 5 Strand Bamboo Overall Ratings
- 6 Installing Bamboo Flooring
- 7 Cleaning Strand Bamboo Flooring
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Conclusion
There are many benefits to buying and installing bamboo flooring. Strand bamboo in particular has some of the best benefits around. Let’s take a look at the top reasons for buying stand bamboo.
- Hardiness. Strand bamboo is second only to engineered bamboo fro hardiness and durability. Harder than red oak, strand bamboo is great for high traffic areas.
- Eco-friendly. Bamboo is one of the most green solutions on the market. With select harvesting and floor ready strands in as little as 3 years, it is easy to see how it is so sustainable.
- Repair abilities. Many plank flooring options cannot be repaired. Bamboo can, though. You can sand, refinish and grind bamboo flooring to prolong the look and feel of the floor.
- Anti-allergen. Bamboo is naturally resistant to things that cause allergic reactions. Like cork flooring, bamboo resists molds, dust mites, pollen and dust.
- Low maintenance. Bamboo is easy to clean, too. With it’s natural resistance to dust and dirt, it doesn’t hold onto things when you sweep or mop, making cleaning up faster.
What is Bamboo Flooring?
Bamboo flooring is a process of creating planks or tiles using strands of bamboo fibers. Some are cut and laid in vertical or horizontal layers and pressed or adhered together. Others are baked and carbonized and some are machine woven.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Bamboo for Your Floors
All told there are seven types of bamboo flooring. Strand woven bamboo is just one of them. You also have vertical, horizontal, carbonized, tiger, engineered and stained. Of the 7 types, engineered bamboo is the strongest and most durable, followed closely by strand woven. The main difference is that strand woven is usually much cheaper, though harder to install.
One of the biggest factors will be the size of the room, hall or home you plan to install in. Like most flooring, bamboo is sold by the square foot. You need to know this measurement (length of room in feet multiplied by the width). Ensure you purchase enough material to complete the job with some product left over.
Depending on the type of bamboo flooring, where you buy and which brand you select, you may need a lot or a little extra material. Moisture barriers are the most common necessity which protects the bottom of the flooring from humidity and moisture from the subfloor.
Aside from that, you should also consider underlayment, sealant and floor care equipment such as cleaning solutions and tools.
You also need to think about installation tools, equipment, time, and adhesives, depending on how you plan to install the floor. If you are opting for a professional install (recommended) there is an additional cost concern for that (more below).
Bamboo, like other types of plank flooring, such as luxury vinyl plank or laminate, comes in many sizes. You can get thinner boards for a more unique look, or wider boards for a more rustic or farmhouse look.
Length is also a concern. Bamboo planks are generally between 2 and 3 feet in length, but you can get them much longer, depending on type. Figuring out the board size, space requirements and bamboo types available to match will help you find the best bamboo for your needs.
Janka Hardness Scale
Another consideration is the density and hardness of bamboo. Pressed bamboo, such as vertical or horizontal isn’t as hardy as the woven and engineered kinds. You can also see how well the weaves of the bamboo are when you look for the Janka Hardness score.
Janka hardness is a hardness measurement that takes a steel ball (almost half-inch in diameter) and presses it into the plank until it is embedded halfway. The pressure (in pounds for the US) required tells you how hard the flooring is. Strand bamboo is among the hardest, even beating Ipe (or Brazilian Walnut) and Cumaru (Brazilian Teak) ironwoods on this test.
Cost & Warranty
Finally, you will want to note the initial product cost and warranty offers. Most bamboo flooring companies offer a great warranty, but many also require professional installation.
Make sure you read all the fine print and understand it before making a purchase. This will also go towards your budgeting and final costs. If the warranty requires professional installation, or scheduled inspections and cleanings, for example, you need to plan for that.
Strand Bamboo Pros and Cons
Advantages of Strand Bamboo
Strand bamboo, and almost all bamboo for that matter, has a lot going for it. For example, bamboo is highly affordable. Often coming in up to half the cost of hardwood flooring, it is something almost every budget can afford. Let’s see what else bamboo can offer.
- Eco-friendly. Strand bamboo is a natural flooring that is highly sustainable. With rapid regrowth, this material is easy to harvest, grow, work with and manufacture. The most green companies in the business are labeled so because they work with bamboo.
- Highly durable. Strand bamboo has a Janka hardness rating over 4600. This is harder than ironwoods, oak and other exotic woods.
- Pest resistant. Termites and other burrowing insects can’t get their teeth into the strand bamboo fibers and won’t penetrate or burrow into your flooring.
- Hypoallergenic. Bamboo is a natural repellent for dust mites, dirt, pollen, dust, mold and mildew. Because these in-home allergens aren’t attracted to bamboo, they don’t stick around long and can easily be cleaned away.
- Repairable. Strand bamboo is thick, tightly woven and has a through-plank build. When there are scratches, dings or mars, you can buff, sand or grind out most issues and restore the look and luster of the original install.
Disadvantages of Strand Bamboo
Not everything is great and harmonious with bamboo, though. One or more of these negatives may be a deal breaker, so make sure you understand what you are getting.
- Susceptible to water damage. Bamboo is a grass, not wood. As such it is always going to absorb moisture, humidity and water. This makes wet mopping highly discouraged. You should also avoid installing in high humid climates or those that get a lot of rain.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are found in a lot of products we use and it creates noxious fumes, bad odors and can have adverse health effects. Lower quality brands and manufactures may use adhesives that contain VOCs. If so, proper care, install and ventilation is required until the VOCs dissipate (which can take weeks).
- Not scratch resistant. As strong and durable as bamboo is, even strand woven bamboo can get scratched easily. If you have pets, heavy furniture or items in your home that constantly scrape over the floor (chairs, toys, tools, etc.), you will find scratches much sooner than with many other floor types.
Strand Bamboo Overall Ratings
When you take into account everything that strand woven bamboo has to offer, you get a basic rating scale. Here is where strand bamboo stands (as a whole, not brand specific).
- VOC Content Possibility: 3
- Warranty: 4
- Durability: 5
- Installation: 3.5
- Price: 4.5
- Quality: 4
- Eco-Friendliness: 4.5
- Overall Rating: 4.0
Installing Bamboo Flooring
Unlike LVP or engineered hardwood, bamboo isn’t the easiest install. The actual process of installing the planks isn’t overly difficult, but the prep work is higher with bamboo than any other flooring.
Professional installation is the way to go. Bamboo is very sensitive prior to install and needs a lot of time to acclimate to the room where it will be installed. Unlike LVP or laminate, that require 12 to 24 hours to acclimate, bamboo needs 5 to 7 days.
The problem with pro contractors is finding a reputable installer. Cost, time and labor all come into play and raise the overall price of the project. However, with a professional installer you will usually get a labor warranty and clean up, old floor removal and other aspects are included in the price.
If you need help finding a professional installer, we can help. Our installer locator tool will help you find reputable, dependable, licensed and local professionals. All within a few clicks. Check out the pro finder tool and get your project started today.
Install will vary depending on the type of bamboo you purchase and which bamboo brand you decide to go with. Cali bamboo, for example, is a highly reputable brand that has some of the best options available.
However, even the brand warns against DIY install for anything other than engineered bamboo planks. Strand woven bamboo is high difficulty on the install rating and requires expensive tools, a lot of math and expert precision.
Cleaning Strand Bamboo Flooring
However, even with more frequent cleaning sessions needed, maintenance is low and cleaning is simple as long as you stick to a few suggestions.
- Never use a full wet mop. If you need to use water to clean stuck on grime or messes, use a damp mop. A dry mop is better, and with a microfiber pad you can clean just as well as a wet mop.
- You will want to sweep daily. Dust and debris will appear quickly. Finding a great broom or dust mop for hardwood flooring will make the clean up much easier.
- Vacuum as needed. If you need to get deep in the creases and cracks, you can use a vacuum. Those with suction only or brush rollers that can be turned off are best to avoid scratches.
- Buff and polish. Bamboo, after install, is quite alluring, shiny and smooth. To maintain this look, you will need to polish and buff the floor. At least once a year is recommended, though every 4 to 6 months is preferred.
That’s all there is to it. A regular sweeping, occasional vacuum or damp mop and a rare buff and shine and your floor will look great for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section we look at the most common questions about strand bamboo, bamboo flooring in general and other bamboo related quandaries. If you have other concerns, please feel free to use the comment section below.
Q. How much does strand bamboo flooring cost?
- Bamboo floors have a wide range of prices. A lot has to do with the brand, of course. But you also will find various prices based on region, installer labor costs, where you buy, and obviously, how much you purchase.
Strand bamboo isn’t the cheapest option, but it isn’t the most expensive, either. With just the planks of bamboo (DIY install) you should expect prices to fall between $2 and $5 per square foot. High quality brands do have some options that can reach over $7 per square foot, though.
When you add in labor for professional installation, expect about $3 to $8 per square foot added to that total. All told, you should expect to pay, on average about $6 to $8 per square foot for strand bamboo.
Q. Can bamboo floors be waterproof?
- No. Bamboo will never be 100% waterproof, regardless of install type or treatments. Bamboo can pull humidity from the subfloor, walls and even the ambient air. With some treatments and sealants you can get bamboo to be slightly water resistant. This will allow you more time to clean up a wet mess or spill, but it still needs to be cleaned up in minutes.
Q. What kind of warranty can I expect with strand woven bamboo?
- Bamboo will almost always come with a great warranty. In most cases the minimum warranty, regardless of brand, will be 30 to 50 years. Many brands offer a lifetime warranty for strand and engineered bamboo with some being able to transfer.
Q. What are the best bamboo flooring brands?
- There are multiple brands making and selling bamboo flooring. This doesn’t mean they are all equal. We have a full review for the best bamboo brands. The top of that list includes brands like Cali Bamboo, Plyboo, EcoFusion and USFloors.
Strand bamboo is one of the most naturally beautiful, hardy and durable flooring options. It is also affordable for most budgets and can last a lifetime. Though it isn’t for everyone, especially for those living in high humid areas.
If you are interested in bamboo flooring, strand bamboo, one of seven bamboo options, is among the best. Hopefully this article has given you the information you need to know if bamboo is right for you. Good luck with your next flooring project.