Bamboo Flooring

I’m writing a new book on flooring, which is plodding along at glacial speed, and I recently installed a product I had never worked with before, or even ever seen for that matter: prefinished planks of solid bamboo flooring.

The 5/8” thick tongue-and-groove planks are about 3¾” wide x 6’ long, and are installed similarly to traditional hardwood strip floors; they can be glued, nailed or stapled down. For this installation, I glued and stapled the planks to the plywood subfloor.

The interesting thing about solid bamboo flooring is that while it is 100% bamboo, the planks aren’t milled from individual bamboo boards. Instead, each plank is composed of 15 thin bamboo strips laminated together. The result is a floor that’s very dimensionally stable, so it’s not likely to crack or splinter, and very hard.

In fact, tests have shown that bamboo is denser than oak or maple, which is pretty amazing when you consider that bamboo is a grass. And because bamboo is a grass, it grows incredibly fast and can be harvested in about four years. By comparison, hardwood trees reach maturity somewhere between 30 and 60 years.

More information about bamboo flooring is available at Sustainable Flooring: Bamboo and Cork.


  1. Dear Joe, Bambo floors are a good idea, sustainability wise, however I helped a friend install one and two weeks later there was a flood in his kitchen, no a big one kitchen sink thing, and the floor is now a rippling mess as the water got in along the ends and its all popped and pealed. Maybe recomend that the ends and sides be painted in polyurethane .Cheers Denise.

    • Hi Denise,
      Thanks for your comment. Any solid wood will expand and warp when exposed to water (we had a hardwood floor that got wet from a leaking water heater, and it warped as well). While sealing the edges, ends, and bottom could help, there would likely still be problems if it flooded. Bamboo is less prone to warpage from being wet, as it absorbs less water, but it’s not meant to be soaked as your friend found out.

  2. Hey Denise,
    Sorry to hear about your friend’s floor. Wood in the kitchen looks great–in fact that’s what I have–but it’s not the best option for areas that are occasionally exposed to water.

    Sealing the ends, or even the bottom, of the floor might block out moisture, but it wouldn’t help much for a flood. The good news is that once the floor dries out, the boards should flatten out. I’d recommend setting up a couple of air-circulating fans and allowing them to run for a few days.

    Unfortunately any finish that was affected will have to be repaired.–JT


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