A little known fact: bamboo is technically not a tree at all, but a grass that includes over 1,000 species. Bamboo naturally grows back, and it reaches maturity in only four to five years. These qualities make bamboo an excellent, forest-friendly source of timber, fibre and wood for flooring.
Bamboo flooring is relatively new to Australia but there are already several importers. Almost all bamboo imported to Australia, Canada and the United States is grown and manufactured in China although it can be found in all of Southeast Asia.
Bamboo flooring is durable, and has a warmth and beauty that makes it especially desirable for flooring. Although there are many species of bamboo, only some are suitable for making flooring. Moso, for instance, is a common choice that reaches 40-50 feet high after just one year of growth. In another three years, the reeds are mature enough for harvesting. After harvesting, the bamboo is dried in the sun before being processed.
To make laminated bamboo flooring it is then cut into strips that are shaped and planed. From these strips, bamboo flooring is made through a process of bonding and laminating. The two main colors available for bamboo flooring are natural (a light woody color), and carbonized (an amber shade). There are also other color variations, some including a staining process.
To make fibrestrand woven bamboo flooring the bamboo is shredded lengthways, after complete drying and carbonizing, if required (a bit like straw – the long fibres are retained). This is then coated with special high quality resins and pressed into large moulds under tremendous pressure until the resin hardens. Once set, the blocks are removed from the moulds and cut and trimmed into tongue and groove floor boards. These are then sealed and coated with German “KLUMPP” finish which is set under underviolet light in perfect factory conditions.
Bamboo flooring has many remarkable qualities that make it equal to or better than any other wood flooring options. It is harder than almost any other natural wood, with superb wearability characteristics. Maintenance for bamboo flooring is no different than for other wood floors — frequent sweeping or vacuuming, spray cleaners, and occasionally mopping. Environmentally, the impact on world forests could be dramatically lessened if bamboo were more widely used.
When considering bamboo flooring, it is important to know that not all bamboo is equal. Nor is all bamboo processing equal. Some discount or wholesale companies are already selling immaturely cut bamboo for bamboo flooring. The result is low-quality, cheap bamboo flooring that will not last. Timing is also important in processing bamboo. If it is not treated within three days after it has been cut, the bamboo can easily mold, making the resulting flooring look bland and dull.
Be sure to confirm that the wholesaler you deal with is knowledgeable and can assure that their bamboo and processing methods are of high quality.