Hardwood Vs. Bamboo Flooring

hardwood vs. Bamboo Flooring

Whether you just bought a house that already has flooring installed or whether you are browsing the aisle of the local flooring store, you have some choices to make. Just because your house came with a certain type of flooring does not mean it is the flooring for you. Perhaps it does not match your style, maybe you just don’t care for the material that is covering your floors. There is no argument in the fact that the choices in regards for flooring are impressive and you need to have a solid idea of what you do like before you have it installed throughout your home.

What are the most popular types of flooring?

No matter what type of home you have you are going to have one of these popular types of flooring:

  • Hardwood flooring
  • Bamboo flooring
  • Carpet
  • Laminate flooring
  • Engineered hardwood flooring
  • Vinyl
  • Tile

Each type of completely unique and offers different qualities that are specific to its make-up. It is up to you to decide which one you want in your home or in certain rooms of your home. 

Why would you select one flooring option over another?

There are many reasons why you might want to select a particular type of flooring option. Some people prefer carpeting in bedrooms to keep floors warm and other people in hot and humid climates often select tile over wood flooring due to the amount of moisture in the air or probability of flooding in coastal regions. The various types of flooring options all come at different price points per square foot. Vinyl is an inexpensive product that does not have a long lifespan but is often found in kitchens, bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms due to its waster resistance, easy to clean surface and low price point. Carpet is expensive and often installs quickly but must be professionally cleaned at least one a year to remove dirt and allergens. Carpet is also not a full house floor cover. You would not want carpet in your kitchen or bathrooms. Tile is very popular is tropical or dessert regions that might be prone to monsoon season. These floors are water resistant, remain cool and are easy to mop clean. The price per square foot is completely reliant on the type of tile being installed. The most popular and versatile flooring that blends into most home décor and can be utilized in every single room of the house would be wood flooring. 

What is wood flooring and how do you know what to choose?

When you walk into a flooring supply store everything will look almost the same at a quick glance. It is not fair to group all of these wood type floors into one vague blanket statement. Each is unique and offers different qualities that you may be more interested in. There are pros and cons to any type of wood looking floor that you decide to install in your home. The basic types of floors include:

  • Bamboo flooring
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Engineered hardwood
  • Solid hardwood

While walking past these wood choices you will notice similarities and differences right off the bat. The differences will lie in the feel and texture of each wood plank. Visually they will all seem similar. Engineered hardwood is created to look just like solid hardwood but it costs less per square foot and it is installed as a floating floor that snaps and locks into place. It is also comprised of both hardwood and plywood. Hardwood is 100% wood and no other filler materials. Bamboo flooring and hardwood flooring are extremely similar but there are also some distinguishable differences that buyers must be aware of before selecting one over the other.

Comparing Hardwood Vs. Bamboo

Category

Hardwood

Bamboo

Durability

Overall, very durable. It depends on the type of wood you choose. 

One of the most durable forms of hardwood.

Water Resistance

Minimal water resistance, vulnerable to spills and flooding.

Minimal water resistance, vulnerable to spills and flooding.

Cleaning

Daily sweeping required. Weekly Vacuuming recommended.

Daily sweeping required. Weekly Vacuuming recommended.

Price

Varies by wood type, but generally $10+ per square foot.

Depending on bamboo quality, normally around $7 per square foot.

Lifespan

With properly maintenance, hardwood can last over 100 years. 

Even when properly maintained, bamboo has a lifespan of around 25 years. 

Installation

Not DIY - Nail down

Not DIY - Nail and glue down

Longevity, Appearance, and Price

Longevity and appearance are the two largest differences when considering which floor to install for your home improvement project. Hardwood floors come in a variety of colors ranging from extremely light and bright to rich and deep brown and red hues. This gives you the chance to completely customize how your floors work into your home décor. 

It is a truly timeless material that can last more than a century if it is cared for properly. Hardwood flooring is made of wood. It is nailed down directly to the subfloor of the home and is an extremely heavy product. Because of how thick the hardwood flooring is it can be refinished multiple times over its lifetime.

If a piece does become damaged beyond the point of repair then it is removed and replaced with a new piece. The integrity of the room is not compromised and the rest of the flooring remains intact with no damage caused from removing the bad piece of hardwood floor. Hardwood flooring can also be sanded down and re-stained to a different shade of wood.

This is why it is timeless as a decorative option. Over time as your style changes you will not need to fully rip out your flooring; you simply refinish it to the tone that complements the rest of your newly updated décor. Hardwood floors do cost more than Bamboo.

Typically the hardwood floors will cost about ten dollars or more per square foot; this equates solely to the type of wood you chose to install in your home. Some lumber simply costs more than other lumber. 

Design Differences

Bamboo flooring is equally as nice as hardwood flooring but bamboo floors do not come in the color variety that hardwood floors do. Bamboo flooring is lighter in color and because of that it tends to blend in to contemporary or beach style homes much better than the rustic colors available in hardwood floors. Bamboo flooring is a fabulous option in rooms that receive less traffic flow and that could use a little bit of a lighter color. Bamboo floors cost about half of what hardwood floors do but with that cost deduction does come a few draw backs.

The flooring can be refinished but you must utilize a professional flooring refinisher because the sanding process is more involved with bamboo than it is with a hardwood floor. If you enjoy the lighter and brighter atmosphere that bamboo floors offer then this might just be the floor for you. Bamboo wood typically can last about twenty to thirty years but this is reliant on the amount of traffic it receives. If it is installed in a kitchen or family room it will be walked on more frequently and may wear out a bit sooner if it is not properly cared for.

Bamboo floors offer the flexibility of installation options. Hardwood flooring is installed by being nailed down but bamboo flooring can be installed as a floating floor in the same way that laminate flooring is installed. Bamboo flooring can also be nailed down just as hardwood flooring is or it can be glued down.

There are pros and cons to each type of installation process. Floating floors will disrupt planks next to damaged planks during the removal process. Glue can sometimes adhere strongly to the subfloor and if a piece of flooring needs to be replaced it can damage the sub-floor as it is lifted up. These are things to keep in mind when you are selecting the type of floor you want and your preferred installation method. 

How well do hardwood and bamboo stand up to water?

Bamboo flooring and a hardwood floor are both susceptible to water damage. If you live in a coastal region or a low lying area that floods often you may want to simply stay away from these as flooring options for basement or ground levels. Both materials hold up well in other climates and on all levels of a home.

Water is so damaging to bamboo flooring and hardwood floors because both materials are porous. This means they are able to absorb any standing water over time. The absorbed water will warp the wood. This may leave you wondering how exactly you will be able to clean these floors and what to do in the event of a spill.

As long as you promptly wipe up and spilled liquid from the floor it will not cause permanent damage. Fluid would have to remain spilled and unnoticed for quite some time before any lasting damage was inflicted on the floor. Wet mopping is not advised when cleaning bamboo flooring, traditional wood flooring or engineered hardwood.

A dust mop or hardwood vacuum cleaner is the best way to remove debris that has settled on the surface of the floor. When you need to give the floors a thorough clean make sure to only utilize products sold specifically for a hardwood floor or bamboo flooring. The proper wash instructions will be on the back of each product bottle so you know the ratio of cleaner vs water and how to properly sanitize the surface. 

Which is more durable bamboo flooring, hardwood or engineered hardwood?

Engineered hardwood holds up to water better than hardwood or bamboo flooring. It is comprised of both hardwood and plywood and costs less per square foot than hardwood. The durability is about the same for engineered hardwood as it is for bamboo or true hardwood. The life span can range anywhere from twenty years to a century; It depends on the amount of traffic it sees and the care it receives over its lifespan.

Thickness can range from 1/8” to 1/16” and sometimes it can be refinished a few times. Engineered floors cannot be re-finished as often as bamboo flooring or hardwood. Engineered wood is so tightly seemed that water cannot penetrate the surface and cause warping. Its surface is not porous and water will literally bead on the surface.

This type of flooring is ideal in extremely humid or damp climates and fares well in basements and in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms that have a great risk of receiving water damage from leaks. Engineered wood is installed as a floating floor and it will contract and expand as the weather changes and your home naturally shifts. 

Final Thoughts

The type of flooring that you decide to install in your home must suit your own personal likes and design. It is easy to walk into a flooring store and be swayed by a sales associate that doesn’t know your personal life style. Always be willing to consider different materials and how they would work in your home but if you have your heart set on a particular type of flooring then it is best to go with your initial instinct and install what you like the most. If you are flexible on the material then you will want to take a few lifestyle factors into consideration; these might help make the decision more clear. If you have a busy home that is full of children and pets you might want to go with a flooring option that will hold up to scratches well and allow for multiple refinishes. You also have to take a good look at your budget and evaluate cost vs quality and durability. It would not make sense to install a floor that is above your budget if you do not need to worry about longevity and how well the surface will withstand a busy household. You should also factor in your cleaning routine and what you are comfortable doing in order to prolong the life of your floors. Be open and honest with the sales associate about where the flooring is going to be installed. You will not want to install a porous floor in a room that could be susceptible to water leakage from plumbing. You also would not want to install a porous floor in a basement that could potentially flood. If you are not installing your floors yourself you might want to shop around and price compare installation fees for various floor installation contractors. Make sure you review the installation company thoroughly and inquire about any installation or product warranties. Taking all of this into consideration will help you to make the best choice for your new flooring. 

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