Because of the sustainability of bamboo and the fact that bamboo floors are both durable and attractive, bamboo flooring is becoming more and more popular as an alternative to hardwood. The secret to bamboo flooring is that it may look like hardwood and have hardwood’s soft yet sturdy texture beneath bare feet, but it’s not wood at all. Here are some bamboo flooring facts:

Bamboo is a type of grass, and like most grasses it grows very quickly. This means it’s ready for harvest in as little as five years. This is in contrast to the decades it takes for a hardwood tree to be ready for harvest. Not only that, the plant doesn’t have to be destroyed to harvest it. This is because bamboo, like other grasses, grows from underground rhizomes. So, harvesting bamboo is works along the same principles as mowing a lawn. Cutting the grass blade doesn’t destroy the lawn. If the grass is cut properly, it simply grows back. To make the bamboo even more sustainable, only 20 percent of the bamboo forest is harvested at a time.

Most bamboo flooring is imported from China, and the most popular bamboo used for flooring is Moso bamboo. This type of bamboo can grow to nearly 80 feet tall in about a month and a half.

During processing, the bamboo stalks are cut into strips and then boiled in lime. Its natural color is a sort of beige, but if the manufacturer wants a darker color he will carbonize the bamboo. This puts the bamboo under intense heat and pressure. This may give it a rich, walnut-like color but may also reduce its hardness.

The bamboo boards are then laminated and allowed to cure. Then they’re planed, sanded and treated with another coat of lacquer before they’re ready to be sold.

Depending on how it’s prepared, bamboo can be considerably harder than wood. Some types of bamboo flooring can score 3000 or more on the Janka scale, which tests the hardness of wood. In contrast, white oak has a rating of about 1360.

Bamboo flooring price can be as low as $1.75 per square foot. It’s usually priced between around $4.99 to $7.99 per square foot. This means its prices are fairly competitive with most hardwood floors.

Bamboo is also easy to care for. It needs to be protected from water and should be cleaned with a mop that’s just slightly damp. It should also be broom-swept every day.

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