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Bamboo Flooring: Construction, Styles and Finishes

Bamboo Flooring Construction
Bamboo floors are offered in 3 basic construction types. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but when made correctly, all are durable and suitable for installations in high traffic areas.

Constructions

Solid Bamboo Flooring
Unlike hardwood, solid bamboo flooring isn't one solid plank through and through, though it is bamboo from top to bottom. Bamboo is actually hollow so strips are cut and adhered together to create one solid bamboo plank. Unlike hardwood, many solid bamboo floors can be installed over concrete sub floors.

Engineered bamboo Flooring
Engineered bamboo flooring is made by using plies of more common wood (like birch) with an attached wear layer on top of real bamboo. Like hardwood floors, engineered bamboo floors use cross-ply construction that minimizes seasonal expansion and contraction that creates gap between planks. Engineered hardwood floors can typically be glued, stapled or used in a floating floor installation.

Engineered HDF Core Bamboo Flooring
Engineered HDF core bamboo floors are made using an HDF core, as opposed to wood plies. These floors are similar to laminate but have a real bamboo surface as opposed to a photo attached to the HDF core. These floors are designed for floating installations over concrete, wood, or OSB and are placed over an underlayment. Some have the underlayment attached to the bottom, but you can also add an additional layer of underlayment for acoustical value and comfort. These floors are usually click bamboo and very easy to install.

Style

Strand Woven Bamboo
Strand woven bamboo can be found in all 3 construction types. It’s made when bamboo is shredded into fibers then bonded back together using intense heat and resins. The result is a floor that can be up to four times harder than red oak, one of the most commonly used woods for flooring. Stranded bamboo is an excellent choice for kitchens, home offices, and even commercial buildings or retail stores.(Check manufacturer warranties for commercial use.)

Horizontal Bamboo Flooring
Horizontal cane cut bamboo flooring can be best described as giving you the most natural look of bamboo. The stock itself is hollow, so when made into bamboo flooring it is cut into strips that are bonded together. When the strips are laid flat, it displays the knots and growth rings you’d see on bamboo that’s growing in a field. Many prefer to see the knots and imperfections, as it adds character and a more natural feel.

Vertical Bamboo Flooring
If you’ve read the description of horizontal cane cut bamboo, you already know the bamboo is cut into strips and laid flat. With a vertical cane cut, the strips are laid so that their sides are exposed. A vertical bamboo floor won’t show the same knots and growth rings resulting in a cleaner, more contemporary look.

Bamboo Finishes

Bamboo is finished much like hardwood flooring and ultimately is what determines the scratch resistance, durability and performance of the floor. In most cases, multiple coats of polyurethane (up to 11) and aluminum oxide are applied to the surface. Like anything, there are brand name polyurethanes and cheaper, off-brand systems that many use to remain competitive in price. The bamboo floors you’ll find here are all finished with either Klumpp or Treffert brand polyurethanes. Each are widely known for being the best you can buy. After the surface finish is applied, some manufacturers add UV curing to the mix. This is a process that uses UV rays to harden the finish and makes it considerably more durable.