Bamboo Flooring In A Kitchen – Pros, Cons & Options Explored
If you like the idea of having wooden flooring as part of your new kitchen renovation but are concerned about the cost and sustainability of it, you might want to consider bamboo flooring.
In this post, I’ll explain what bamboo flooring is, its pros and cons as well as answer some popular questions about the topic.
Let’s get into it!
What Is Bamboo Flooring?
Although technically bamboo is grass rather than a tree, bamboo flooring behaves in a similar manner to a traditional hardwood floor. Available in a variety of styles, finishes and colours. Bamboo is cut down into strips/strands and machined into the various styled flooring planks.
Bamboo flooring continues to grow in popularity across the UK and Europe. It is less expensive than other premium flooring and is generally considered a greener option that helps to protect old-growth forests.
It usually has a unique appearance and may look pale with an even grain and toothed joins every metre or less. But new manufacturing processes are expanding available finishes and improving their durability.
The latest choices for bamboo flooring look much like other laminates while offering similar pricing and installation costs.
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Bamboo Flooring Cost
Bamboo floors are offered in a wide range of qualities from inexpensive to premium products. You can find classic vertical or horizontal bamboo flooring for as low as £18 per sq. m. The classic bamboo was often sold in parquet tiles.
Solid strand engineered bamboo can run up to £50 per sq. m. with a variety of thicknesses and composites available. Installation generally requires one to two days of labour at an average cost of £200 per person/day.
Flooring an average room in bamboo will run you around £1,000. A premium hardwood floor may cost twice as much or more.
Bamboo is considered a very eco-friendly flooring product. Bamboo is actually a rapidly growing grass. But unlike your lawn, it grows in tough stalks around 5 to 10 cm in diameter and up to 15 metres tall. The bamboo stalks are ready for harvest in just five years, compared to 20 or more for a hardwood tree to grow. Making it a great renewable resource.
The flooring typically lasts for 10 to 20 years, which means that you are growing more bamboo than needed for the floor. As the bamboo grows, it eliminates carbon dioxide from our air and adds oxygen. Since bamboo grows so fast, it provides ample material for a wide range of products from clothing to construction supplies.
Is Bamboo Flooring that Green?
While the actual bamboo is easily grown and seen as a sustainable crop, the companies that manufacture bamboo flooring may not be following eco-conscious guidelines. Much of the bamboo sold across the world comes from regions where little to no restrictions are in place for the use of formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals.
When shopping for bamboo floors, ask about quality control and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that may off-gas after installation.
Maintenance and Repair
The day-to-day maintenance for bamboo floors is similar to your laminate or hardwood floors. A quick sweep or a damp mop wipes up dirt and spills. Most types of bamboo floors are not waterproof, so you should not use a bucket of soapy water and a rag mop for cleaning as this may cause water damage. Run your vacuum or use a dust mop to pick up pet fur, crumbs, and dust.
Bamboo floors can be repaired much the same as hardwood floors. They can be sanded down and refinished to eliminate scratches and stains and restore their shine. Most bamboo floors may be refinished two to three times before they are considered too thin to restore.
If you have a split piece of bamboo, a wood filler can hide the problem. In the case of a click-lock floating floor, you can replace strips without the use of nails. This approach is time-consuming but can save hundreds over the cost of replacing the entire floor.
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- Affordable: A quality engineered strand bamboo floor costs half as much as a solid hardwood with similar performance statistics.
- Softer to Walk On: Bamboo is known for its soft feel on your toes, which brings warmth and comfort to your home.
- DIY Friendly: Many bamboo products are sold as easy click-and-lock floating floors, which most homeowners can install using a few basic tools in a single weekend.
- Green Product: As a readily renewable and sustainable crop, bamboo is considered one of the most eco-friendly flooring options on the market. Check the label for the Forestry Stewardship Council stamp of approval.
- Can Be Refinished: Bamboo floors can last twenty years or longer and can withstand two to three sanding and refinishing processes to keep their beautiful look.
- Softer Surface Dents and Scratches: Some classic vertical and horizontal bamboo floors are known to be easily dented by furniture and even pet nails. Shop wisely to find the hardest bamboo possible.
- Known to Absorb Humidity: Unfinished bamboo readily absorbs water. As such, classic bamboo and budget-priced laminate bamboo floors have a reputation for swelling and shifting. They are not a smart choice for damp basements or seaside cottages.
- Shorter Lifespan: Solid hardwood floors are known to last 50 to 75 years. Most bamboo products are engineered to last between 15 and 20 years. An engineered solid strand floor may survive a few years longer.
- Limited Finishes: Bamboo flooring is generally sold in only a few colours ranging from pale blonde to light brown. You will need to restain it to get a darker, contemporary appearance.
- May Off-Gas Toxins: Depending on the manufacturing process, some bamboo flooring may contain formaldehyde which releases VOCs. Affecting those who suffer from allergies.
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Types of Bamboo Flooring
Solid Strand Bamboo Planks
Solid strand is rapidly becoming the most popular choice for bamboo flooring. The bamboo is shredded into thin strips at the factory and then pressed into long strands using a durable resin. The result is solid bamboo flooring with a varied grain and a hardness that can match or exceed oak, cherry or maple.
It is sold as tongue and groove or click-and-lock to be nailed or glued down. It can be refinished up to three times and lasts 20 years or more.
Engineered Bamboo Flooring
If you are looking for a water-resistant floor, an engineered rigid core strand bamboo is the way to go. It is the most expensive type of bamboo. Its rigid core interior will not absorb water or moisture, which reduces the effect that high humidity or puddles has on the surface.
Other kinds of engineered bamboo have a eucalyptus or HDF core, which is less costly but will swell and shift in high-moisture environments. Choose wisely.
Vertical or Horizontal Bamboo Flooring
The earliest and most familiar types of bamboo flooring chopped the bamboo shoots into small flat pieces. You then layer the pieces together in vertical or horizontal strips. This type of flooring is inexpensive, soft underfoot, and the most eco-friendly.
However, it is susceptible to scratches and may only be able to be refinished once before it needs to be replaced.
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Do bamboo floors scratch easily?
Whilst bamboo flooring is very tough, like other wood floors, its surface can scratch easily.
Placing felt pads on any barstool feet around the kitchen island and refinishing the floor every once in a while can extend the life of this flooring and reduce the appearance of scratches
How Long Do Bamboo Floors Last?
The average lifespan of bamboo flooring is around 15-20 years. However, this can be extended with proper care and refinishing of the flooring. Some manufacturers claim a bamboo floor can last 50 years.
The type of bamboo flooring and the quality of the product will also dictate how long the floor will last. As with most things, a higher quality product, installed correctly will outlast and outperform a cheaper alternative.
Is bamboo flooring good for kitchens?
Bamboo flooring might not be the first option you think of for your kitchen. Especially if you are looking for a completely water-resistant and highly durable material. For that, I’d always recommend porcelain tiles.
However, if you’re looking for something a little different and a great eco-friendly, softer and natural finish to your flooring then a bamboo kitchen floor is a solid choice.
Since most kitchens have high foot traffic and are subject to watery spills, you want bamboo floors designed for the purpose. Engineered rigid core strand bamboo offers to best water resistance and durability.
It is warmer and softer underfoot compared to tile and is more affordable than solid or engineered hardwoods.
There you have it! The pros, cons and everything you need to know about bamboo flooring for the kitchen.
Unique, eco-friendly and warm underfoot. Bamboo flooring has many great qualities similar to its hardwood cousin. Just be aware of its potential downsides and select the right style and quality for your kitchen needs.
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for around 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.