What you need to know about bamboo flooring

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Pros:
Competitive alternative to hardwood floors
Eco-friendly and renewable resource if forested responsibly
It works well with modern designs

Cons:
Can be difficult to refinish
Great energy expenditure involved in manufacturing and shipping
The adhesives required to laminate can contain toxic urea formaldehyde

Now, let’s take a closer look…

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According to Wikipedia, bamboo is an eco-friendly, highly renewable source of material. As a grass, bamboo grows much faster than wood. Moso Bamboo is the primary species used for the manufacturing of flooring and plywood. According to The Magazine of The American Bamboo Society, Moso bamboo can grow up to 47 inches in 24 hours and 78½ feet high in 40 to 50 days. It takes about 3–5 years for bamboo to reach full maturity. Traditional hard woods can take 20–120 years to mature.

Bamboo can be harvested without the need to replant because the root system is left intact when it is harvested. The root structure has the ability to hold the soil in place preventing erosion.

Bamboo reaches maturity in five years which is the optimal age to harvest. In a sustainably harvested forest only 20% of the forest is harvested annually allowing for 100% harvest in a five-year period. In its natural environment it will need no irrigation, no pesticides, and no fertilizer. Bamboo has few pests so pesticides are not required.

Bamboo Flooring Maintenance Like most hardwood floors, bamboo floors should be treated carefully. When mopping, it is best to use a dust mop to remove the dust and grime. A stiff bristled broom can be used to remove more stubborn dirt from the crevices of the floor. Wet mops should be avoided on the bamboo flooring. When it is necessary to mop the floor, wring the mop out thoroughly to prevent any extra water from being released onto the floor. Cleaning detergents should be checked to make sure that they are safe for hard wood floors before they are added to the mop water. Many detergents contain a waxing agent which will dull the color of the flooring and leave behind a filmy glaze.

During the manufacturing of bamboo floors, some manufacturers use urea-formaldehyde as the adhesive for bonding the bamboo strips. According to the stringent California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards there can be no more than 0.05 ppm (parts per million) of outgassed formaldehyde. Manufacturers are now offering formaldehyde-free bamboo flooring, but they can claim that they have “no added urea-formaldehyde” without providing substantial proof. Manufacturers may make use of equipment that may in itself be dangerous and polluting.

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