Hardwood or Bamboo, Which Floor Is For You?

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Whether it’s building or buying, starting another chapter in a new custom home is very exciting. A blank canvas just waiting for your personal design and decor. The structure and essence of your new home will be built around your wants and desires. Natale Builders knows better than anyone that energy efficiency is a big sell for homes being built, bought, and sold in today’s market. Homes or dwellings have been built since the dawn of man, and the base of them have seen an assortment of change throughout history; from dirt, dung, and sand to stone, brick, and tile. Rough planks of wood were first seen in the middle ages, while woven rugs date back for centuries. Eventually we were exposed to the patent of linoleum, closely followed by vinyl. Now in the 21st century, we still use these age old materials in all of our buildings and structures. For today's blog, Natale will focus on the differences between two materials that have come to be rivals in the flooring industry; hardwood and bamboo.

Wonderful hardwood, a furnishing recognized all over the world that continues to hold a reputation of class, warmth, and beauty. Its range of styles that include oak, maple, fir, walnut, birch, cherry, beech, and pine; fit into just about any home interior, so how could one go wrong?

Second in our lineup is bamboo; a material that has built a fame of its own across the U.S. in the past 15 years and gives hardwood a good run for it's money, literally. Bamboo makes a stand with it’s distinct looks and exotic elegance. Although it looks and feels a lot like wood, especially after harvesting and processing, bamboo is actually a member of the grass family. Unlike hardwood, in the U.S. bamboo can be manufactured into three different types solid bamboo, strand woven, and engineered bamboo. Solid bamboo is the most complex process and is sometimes carbonized to make it darker, but also reduces its durability. Strand woven can be made to have increased durability and hardness through manufacturing, and engineered bamboo goes through similar steps early on but is then installed on a backing material like plywood. 

Both hardwood and bamboo do however share a lot of similarities when discussing their pros and cons for flooring, leaving small differences to be the deciding factor for potential buyers.

Pro’s

Hardwood

  • ‍Effortlessly matches with any interior decor.
  • ‍Wood is able to be recycled and reused from old buildings, structures, or logs found in rivers. It also has a low embodied energy.
  • ‍Easier to repair when sanding and refinishing. Able to replace single planks.
  • ‍Can be stripped, sanded, and refinished multiple times to be darker or lighter.

Bamboo

  • ‍Has an exotic look that is very distinct.
  • ‍Highly renewable being from natural vegetation that can grow to maturity in 3-5 years.
  • ‍Strand woven bamboo can be manufactured to be even harder than red oak.
  • ‍Low costs ranging from $2 - $8 per square foot.
  • ‍More water resistant.

Both

  • ‍Attractive looks that provide warmth and elegance.
  • Variety of colors, shades, and patterns.
  • ‍Resilient, long lasting, and easy to clean.
  • ‍Can increase the value of a home.
  • ‍Retain heat and provide good insulation in the winter and summer, making them comfortable to walk on.
  • ‍Both can be installed with the same techniques.

Con's

Hardwood

  • ‍More vulnerable to moisture and humidity that can cause wood to warp, stain, or deteriorate.
  • ‍Although cheaper options are available, it can be expensive ranging from $8 - $15 per square foot. Some varieties can be upwards of $20.
  • ‍Natural expanding and contracting can occur with fluctuating temperatures.

Bamboo

  • ‍Excessive moisture or humidity can cause the bamboo to plump and crack, warp, or allow the growth of mold. Being too dry will shrink the planks and cause them to crack.
  • ‍Can only be refinished 2-3 times in its lifetime.
  • ‍Depending on the way the bamboo was processed, they can emit amounts of volatile organic materials from the adhesive that is used.  
  • ‍Lack of a grading system, so buyers should be careful to buy from a reputable seller.

Both

  • ‍Even though bamboo is more resilient, they both have weaknesses when it comes to moisture and are not suited for every room.
  • ‍If not finished properly or with the right products, they are easily scratched, marked, or dented.
  • ‍An uneven subfloor can cause issues with bending and splitting.
  • ‍Strong sunlight exposure can cause discoloration.
  • ‍Can be noisy when they are walked on with shoes and heels, or from pets.

When speaking in terms of green energy, it is important to point out that both materials have debatable aspects. Bamboo for instance is environmentally ambiguous due to its chemical toxins introduced during manufacturing and its high embodied energy from being shipped to the U.S. from different areas in Asia, which one could insist defeats the purpose.  Others argue that portions of forests are cut down to make room for commercial bamboo fields. Hardwood on the other hand is also considered renewable; however, trees are not mature enough to harvest until after 20 years of growth and they are harvested in mass quantities.

With these facts in mind it is easy to see how personal preference is ultimately what it will come down to when choosing the flooring for your home. Either option will be a fine edition to your home and will undoubtedly be the rooms highlighting feature.  Explore your options and find what material will best match your desires. Bamboo is offered as an optional feature to our homes in developments such as The Chateaus At Avalon Meadows or our open home model 10 Nicole.  We thank you again for choosing Natale Builders. Be sure to keep checking back for new and interesting blogs on homes and living with green energy efficiency and Contact Us for free consultation today!