During the 1940s and 50s, bamboo furnishings were all the rage. Armchairs, sofas, side and coffee tables graced many a livingroom with their barkcloth upholstery in vibrant tropical prints. Very retro and desirable now, most of these pieces are pretty pricey and hard to come by. But you too can do bamboo...floors, that is.
Bamboo flooring is manufactured from fast-growing giant bamboo (which is a grass, not wood) specifically for the construction industry. It must be harvested after 3–4 years or the plant is wasted. Because it grows so quickly, it is a "green", environmentally friendly product.
Bamboo flooring is available as planks and engineered flooring composed of laminated strips. It comes in different grades that are determined by environmental variables such as age, rain, and when it is harvested. These and other factors affect the hardness and quality of the material. Because bamboo is treated during manufacturing, it doesn´t attract termites or ants. It´s fire and warp-resistant, essentially slip-proof, and really easy to clean.
Depending on the manufacturer, planks may be available with or without the distinctive bamboo nodes. Both solid and engineered planks are similar to oak flooring with the tongue and groove edges for interlocking installation. The planks can be installed over concrete by gluing or floating, or they can be nailed to a wooden subfloor. You can install bamboo over existing flooring as long as it is level, smooth, and firmly attached.
Bamboo flooring ranges from natural light finishes to darker caramel shades. The darker colors result from carbonizing during a pressure steaming process. Because the color is integral to the carbonized boards, staining is never required during refinishing. Some vendors offer a variety of different colors including blue, green, and orange that expand your design options but may also increase the cost. Boards are available with a urethane finish, but may also be obtained unfinished. This allows you to stain your boards for a more customized look. Other bamboo materials are also available for wall and ceiling treatments.
Caring for bamboo floors is the same as for other types of hardwood floors. Keeping it swept and an occasional damp mop is all it really requires. To refinish, use a deglosser, then apply a fresh urethane finish. (If the floor has been waxed, you´ll have to deal with that first.)
If you are installing over a wood subfloor, it´s no more difficult to install than any other wood flooring. The primary motivation homeowners have for doing this type of work is to save money. If a project can be done for half the cost by doing it yourself, why not?
If you are installing your bamboo flooring over concrete using adhesives or floating it, some experts suggest hiring a flooring pro to do the installation for you. Some bamboo flooring can´t be floated, so know what type of installation restrictions apply to the flooring material you fancy.
Before you start, honestly assess your capability. Do you really want to do this? Do you think you can follow manufacturers instructions, go slow, and do it right? If you know deep down that you might not do such a great job, hire someone to do the work. If you are motivated and believe you can do a good job, regardless of whether you´ve done it before or not, the completed work will give you profound satisfaction as well as save money.
For more information about enviromentally sound home design and house plans, check out Healthy Home Designs.
To find a flooring contractor, check out ContractorNexus.