If you‘re looking to update your floors and you’d like a strong, but natural material, there’s a high chance that you’ve come down to a decision between hardwood and bamboo flooring, so it makes sense that you want to find out what the differences are between the two.
Comparing Bamboo and Hardwood floors
How are bamboo floors and hardwood floors similar?
If we want to know what the differences are between bamboo and hardwood floors, first we must understand what is similar.
Both bamboo and hardwood offer a similar appearance. They are made from all-natural materials, which means that many planks will show grain patterns and knots. Both types of flooring are also easy to customize to your specific tastes and decor through a variety of finishes, including texture and stains.
Want a sleek modern look? Natural bamboo flooring and hardwood are a lighter color, which can be paired with a gloss finish, for a more simplistic style.
Going for something more traditional? Plump for carbonized bamboo floors, which are heated during manufacture for a darker color, and use a matte varnish to suit a more traditional design scheme.
Both of these floors are actually pretty easy to maintain and if they’re easier to look after, they’ll last longer than other types of flooring. Here are some simple maintenance tips that apply to both bamboo and hardwood flooring:
- Clean up spills as they happen
- Remove shoes indoors
- Don’t drag heavy or sharp objects over the floor
- Put protectors on the feet of furniture or appliances in that room (i.e. tables, chairs, refrigerators)
- Place mats at outside doors, so that less dirt is tracked in
- Put a mat underneath any rolling/computer chairs
One of the biggest positives for bamboo and hardwood floors alike is how little cleaning they require. All you need to do is wipe up any spills as you spot them and sweep them regularly with a soft brush.
In the case of bigger messes, you might require a damp cloth/mop and some specialized cleaning products, but even this won’t take very long compared with other types of floors. Have you ever tried to get bolognese sauce out of carpet?!
Important: Neither flooring should be wet/steam mopped or you’ll be at risk of mold/mildew. Bamboo floors are more resistant to water or humidity damage, but it’s still not advised to soak the floor.
How do bamboo floors and hardwood floors differ?
Okay, so now we’re at the comparison stage and you want to know what makes bamboo and hardwood floors different from each other. Well, as it turns out, there’s a huge amount of differences between the two types of flooring. Let’s take a look.
Let’s start off with an easy, but relatively unknown, difference. Bamboo is actually a grass, as opposed to a wood, which contributes to tons of subsequent differences, some of which are shown in the table below.
|Growth time to maturity||5-7 years||50-70 years|
|Harvesting Method||Cut by hand, allowing the plant to regenerate from the stalk||Chopped with heavy machinery, killing the tree which must then be uprooted|
|Waste||Very little waste||Much wood is wasted turning logs into planks|
|Disposal||Is more biodegradable||Is less biodegradable|
Both strand woven bamboo flooring and hardwood floor are available in solid (planks of pure wood/bamboo) and engineered (a veneer of wood/bamboo on top of a high-density fiberboard for added strength) versions.
Strand woven bamboo flooring, which is made by placing layers of bamboo together at 90-degree angles and compressing them, has the tensile strength of steel and is stronger than all hardwoods, according to the Janka Hardness Scale.
There is a huge difference in cost when it comes to bamboo and hardwood flooring, with bamboo being up to three times cheaper than the equivalent hardwood. This is down to many reasons, but mainly that bamboo is inexpensive to produce because it’s more renewable, takes less specialized equipment to grow/harvest, and is generally grown by local farmers as opposed to large companies.
Hardwood flooring offers you plenty of variety when it comes to width and length of the planks, but while bamboo tends to come in fixed sizes, they can always be cut down. Although, it’s relatively hard to add length or width!
Both types of flooring also have nice, thick planks, which may sound like a euphemism, but actually means that they’re relatively durable and able to be refinished in due time.
Of course, size may not matter you at all…
Bamboo flooring is an incredibly stable product and so it is relatively easy for even DIY-ers to install, which is clear from the video above. It also has a variety of options for installation to suit every type of subfloor and even accommodate underfloor heating:
- Gluing down
- Nailing down
- Click and Lock
By comparison, solid hardwood floors are less stable and need to be fixed in place, something that more often than not requires a professional installer (and increases the cost). They are also unsuitable for some areas in the house (i.e. basement) and can’t be used with underfloor heating.
One of the most important things in a floor is durability. The last thing you want is to replace it after only a decade- that would be a major waste of money, materials, and effort. So how do these two compare on standing the test of time?
Bamboo is far more durable than hardwood flooring because it’s stronger, more resistant to water and humidity, and more stable. If it’s less likely to get damaged in day-to-day life, it’s more likely to last.
As environmental issues continue to get more attention – as they should – people want to lessen their impact on the earth, so which is the more sustainable material?
Bamboo is more rapidly renewable than trees, does considerably less damage to the surrounding environment (by not uprooting the plant and causing soil erosion) and to the ozone layer (by not using heavy machinery).
Which floor is best for my house?
Ultimately, that’s a personal decision for you and your family to make, but given the wealth of evidence, it seems like bamboo is the better product in terms of cost, durability, and eco-friendliness.
Now, it’s over to you. Have you previously had to choose between bamboo and hardwood? Which did you choose and why? Are you currently making the choice and have some burning questions? Let us know in the comments section.