The beauty and warmth of a hardwood floor are hard to replicate, but it isn’t for lack of trying. Laminates and various tile products simulate the look of wood, but few can pull it off quite as well as bamboo.

Bamboo flooring is a laminate on its own. It uses bamboo fibers together with resin to bind it. And while many people believe that bamboo is earth-friendly, that’s true….but only to a point. Bamboo matures in approximately five years and its harvest replenishes in a shorter time period than oak, maple or even pine…but there are downsides. The resin used to bind the bamboo fibers into a plank can give off volatile organic compounds or VOCs. If your clients are looking to reduce VOCs in a new construction but request bamboo flooring, be sure you let them know that this type of flooring can release these kinds of toxins over time.

Even so, a wood floor is typically high on the list for customer wants. For the majority of middleclass people, however, wood costs big bucks and therefore out of reach. Bamboo becomes a likely alternative, offering many of the same advantages but without the heavy price tag.

Bamboo looks great in a house. Its light color can really brighten an interior, or you can choose from a carbonized version that is darker. Be aware that the carbonizing process can weaken fibers. It’s also available unfinished, to allow owners to customize their look further. A bamboo floor offers the same easy cleanup with a vacuum and a damp mop, and can look beautiful with a wide variety of décor.  

Those new to bamboo need to be aware that it’s not a hardwood. It can be scratched or dented by high heels, enthusiastic pets or a faulty furniture leg dragged across the bare floor. Luckily, bamboo floors can be sanded and refinished; however, like all laminates, there is a limit as to how many times that can be done. That limit is determined by how thick the bamboo’s surface is. Sanding  too often can result in a cracked floor.

Bamboo floors can warp, lift or allow mold growth if it’s exposed to water or installed in an area with high humidity, just like any wood floor. It can swell, shrink and crack if humidity levels remain high. On the plus side, though, bamboo is relatively moisture resistant, making it a possible choice for bathrooms or kitchens.

When you know your materials, you can better provide recommendations for your customers and they’ll appreciate that you can talk freely about the pros as well as the cons.