Bamboo: The Beautiful Steely Reed

Bamboo flooring may cost less than hardwood floors, but it is certainly in no way less beautiful or hard or durable. And judging by the number of people out to get it, it’s also not less desirable either. Although usually categorized as either monopodial (runner) or sympodial (clumping), there are approximately1,000 different species of bamboo, the hardiest of grasses. This grass’s tall stalks are harvested for a variety of purposes: paper, kitchen utensils, and, quite famously, floors.

Many people introduce bamboo floors into their homes because of their easy-to-appreciate beauty, but an equal number does it as a way of emphasizing their home’s smart use of natural materials. Moreover, the eco-friendliness of bamboo flooring runs much deeper than just its wonderful surface appearance. Bamboo is a renewable resource that is harvested by hand.

Those who sing its praises like to point out that although bamboo is not a wood, it is a grass capable of creating floor material that is much harder than even that created with traditional oak wood. When scientists measured its tensile strength, it was found to be comparable to that of steel. Strand woven bamboo flooring is an especially hard form of bamboo flooring. The process of heating, weaving, and laminating bamboo strips is responsible for the extra hardness, and for giving it an appearance that approximates that of a wood grain. Because of its toughness, it’s the material most recommended for homes overrun by children or other types of urban menageries.

If you’re buying bamboo wood floors, you will be faced with having to decide between options offering vertical and horizontal constructions. Of the two types, horizontal construction is considered the most stable.

Bamboo floors can undergo refinishing and their maintenance is very much like that give to hardwood floors. Whether you will be shopping for natural bamboo floors or bamboo laminate, keep an eye out for the types of adhesives used — some may contain formaldehyde. To find out if it’s included, just ask your seller. Remember to consider all your bamboo options well before making your final decisions. Whatever you choose, it’s unlikely you’ll regret going the bamboo route!
Sam Walters is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her writing appears in print and online.

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