Bamboo flooring is often mistaken for another type of hardwood flooring, and it is, in fact, commonly understood as “solid-hardwood” flooring. Both bamboo and hardwood have a similar look and feel, and both are available in 3/4-inch thick solid planks as well as engineered versions with a finish-quality natural veneer applied over man-made core layers.
Despite these similarities, there are several key distinctions between bamboo and hardwood flooring that we are going to discuss.
Hardwood Flooring Breakdown
Natural hardwood flooring is manufactured from tree timbers that have been harvested in the woods. The cost is determined by the tree. Mahogany, wenge, and teak are examples of the most costly hardwoods. Pine is the softest hardwood used in flooring, and it is very cost-effective.
Engineered hardwood is another option for areas susceptible to dampness, such as a concrete subfloor. This type of floor is constructed with a hardwood top over plywood or fiberboard, which allows for some expansion and reduction.
Despite the fact that bamboo is often associated with hardwood flooring, it is not, in actuality, wood. It is, rather, a woody grass. Bamboo, a tropical plant that thrives in areas with frequent rains, has a distinct cellular structure from hardwood. Bamboo does not resist water the way you might think. Unsealed bamboo can be discolored and damaged by water, much like hardwood.
Bamboo flooring may be manufactured from a variety of bamboo varieties with varying qualities, but Moso bamboo is the most widely used high-quality option. Manufactured bamboo flooring that has been produced through chemical or physical treatments is much more resilient than natural bamboo, although it is quite processed from its natural form, being stripped, boiled, sliced, bonded, and pressed. Bamboo that is less yellow in tone is more difficult to work with than darker bamboo, as the carbonization process used to blacken it makes it softer.
Bamboo vs. Hardwood: Comparison
Simply because it’s branded “hardwood,” this does not always imply that the wood is a highly durable substance. Technically, the phrase “hardwood” refers to any tree grown from an angiosperm seed that has been reproduced from an ovum or fruit.
Many well-known plant species, such as oak, maple, cherry, hickory, and walnut, are included in this group. The gymnosperms make up the other major category of trees; they develop from naked seeds—naked seeds that aren’t enclosed within an ovum or fruit. This includes most coniferous trees (pine, spruce) and Ginkgo biloba.
When different species of timbers are assessed for their real resistance to impact or scratch, hardwoods do not always hold a higher Janka hardness rating than softwoods. A test called the Janka Hardness Test is often used to assess wood.
The quantification of hardness begins with a steel ball being pressed into the wood and how deeply it dents the wood. Some hardwoods are softer than some softwoods, as well as bamboo.
Wood hardness ratings are one of the most important characteristics of hardwood flooring and woodworking. They range from ultra-soft to extremely hard. Here are a few to take note of:
- Red walnut and Brazilian with scores of 2,500 to 3,500
- Hard maple with a score of 1,450
- Red Oak with a score of 1,220
- Cherry with a score of 950
- Poplar with a score of 540
- Aspen with a score of 350
Some softwoods, on the other hand, are harder than some hardwoods; for example, Eastern red cedar with a 900 hardness rating and Douglas fir with a 660 hardness rating.
Bamboo is typically harder than oak flooring in its natural state, with a Janka hardness of around 1,300 to 1,400. However, some bamboo flooring is carbonized to make it darker.
Hardwood comes in a variety of species and qualities, each with its own distinct look, feel, and grain patterns. This is exacerbated by the fact that various cuts yield varying degrees of grain consistency. Hardwood also allows you to express yourself more freely since it offers greater flexibility in terms of appearance. You may select from a range of species and choices to discover the style that fits your environment perfectly.
Bamboo, on the other hand, has a more restricted variety of diversity. The appearance feature that distinguishes bamboo most is its construction, which consists of three types:
- Vertical-grain bamboo is made by gluing together narrow strips of bamboo on the edge, giving the material a striped appearance.
- Bamboo is often used in the manufacture of flat-grain bamboo, which is constructed with thin, flat layers of bamboo fastened together.
- Stranded bamboo is composed of resin-bound bamboo fibers, which gives it the shredded appearance of shredded material.
Standard materials for hardwood flooring, such as hard maple or red oak, cost between $4 and $8 per square foot, while more uncommon hardwoods may cost upwards of $10 per square foot.
On average, bamboo flooring costs around $3.80 per square foot, with a range of $2 to $5 per square foot. It’s possible to get it for less, but lower-quality materials are sometimes more expensive.
The average cost of professional installation is about the same for bamboo and hardwood, with prices ranging from $4 to $8 per square foot, depending on local labor costs.
Bamboo floors are more prone to damage than hardwoods. When it comes to hardwoods, the primary concern is scratching and moisture damage. Though, both options are susceptible.
You will want to be sure you’re using practices aligned with the company’s warranty to ensure any damage is covered where possible.
Hardwood flooring is tested for size, form, moisture content, structure, color, and pattern characteristics in order to ensure the best quality. Several long-standing independent organizations, such as the National Oak Floor Manufacturers Association, provide ratings for the overall quality of wood flooring products.
Bamboo is a relatively new flooring material and has yet to be rated in an official way, ensuring the quality, source, and uniformity of the product. As a result, when you buy bamboo flooring, you simply don’t know what you’re getting. Because bamboo is not covered by any international trade agreements, it is more difficult to ensure that it is acquired in a socially and ecologically beneficial manner. Working with a trustworthy dealer or manufacturer with a proven track record of sustainable practices or suppliers, as well as one known for selling high-quality items, is the best way to go.
The popularity of bamboo flooring has increased in recent years, in part due to the fact that it is marketed as an environmentally responsible product. In terms of its longevity, bamboo is unquestionably highly renewable; unlike hardwoods, which take 70 or 80 years to mature and must be harvested, bamboo plants that are trimmed can quickly grow again.
However, the environmental concerns are not straightforward. Because most bamboo comes from China, there is some hand in regulating bamboo plants and harvesting effects on the environment.
Because it’s a natural resource, hardwood is extremely environmentally friendly. It’s recyclable and perpetual, so buy from manufacturers that are committed to preserving natural resources.
Although hardwood floors are natural and long-lasting, they are expensive. Bamboo flooring is less expensive and increasingly popular. While hardwood floors may endure up to a century, bamboo flooring has an expected lifespan of ten to twenty years. Both types of flooring are susceptible to moisture damage in the air environment.
Bamboo vs. Hardwood Final Showdown
Bamboo flooring is increasingly popular, and because of this, it might give your property a little more value if you are selling it. Bamboo is a very hard and long-lasting flooring material; however, it isn’t quite as environmentally friendly as its reputation implies.
However, hardwood is at least as good as bamboo in terms of performance and longevity, and with numerous species and grades accessible, it provides a wider variety of choices for appearance.