Engineered bamboo flooring is gaining popularity worldwide as a beautiful and sustainable flooring option. If you’re in the market for a new floor, engineered bamboo flooring is definitely one to check out!
This guide covers the pros and cons of engineered bamboo flooring, the installation process, best engineered bamboo flooring brands, other types of bamboo flooring, and engineered bamboo vs. engineered hardwood.
What is Engineered Bamboo Flooring?
Before we take a more detailed look at engineered bamboo flooring pros and cons, let’s start with the basics. What is engineered bamboo flooring?
Engineered bamboo flooring is made by attaching a thin veneer of real bamboo to a plywood or fiberboard backing. This plywood base layer forms a secure floor, while the bamboo veneer on top is coated with a moisture-resistant surface sealer. The final product is an attractive, durable flooring that can be used in most areas of the house.
Bamboo is not a tree, and therefore technically doesn’t produce wood. Bamboo is actually a type of grass! The thick stalks that bamboo produces have some wood-like properties, but the process of turning bamboo into solid flooring looks a lot different than making planks from trees.
To make engineered bamboo flooring, the bamboo stalks are harvested and then sliced into thin pieces to be sanded down. Once sanded and smooth, the bamboo strips are boiled to cleanse them from any possible dirt or insects. Finally, the bamboo is processed to create a particular style and then thin pieces are attached as a veneer onto sturdy plywood backing. The surface sealer is added, and voilà! You have a beautiful engineered bamboo floor.
Engineered Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve covered the basics of engineered bamboo flooring, it’s time to look at the pros and cons. What do people love about this kind of flooring, and what are the drawbacks?
Engineered Bamboo Flooring Pros
We’ve compiled a list below of the best things about engineered bamboo flooring, so that you can have all the facts about this great floor.
It Goes where Solid Flooring Can’t – That’s the main reason for engineered hardwood’s plywood base that makes it more stable – it better handles changes in humidity associated with bathrooms and below-grade locations in a tri-level home or in a basement.
The main types of bamboo flooring are explained next. But the first point is that this is good-looking flooring for almost any room in your home. The material is treated and stained and finished by manufacturers in various ways to create a range of attractive styles and colors.
Multiple Design Options
There are three main design options for engineered bamboo flooring: strand woven, horizontal, and vertical.
Strand Woven – By far the most popular style of engineered bamboo flooring, strand-woven floors are known for their incredible strength and durability. In fact, it is estimated to be at least twice as strong as oak. How is this strong material created? Bamboo strips are shredded down into small fibers that are then formed into a pulp. This pulp is mixed with a strong adhesive substance that helps to interweave and strengthen the bamboo fibers. Then, extreme pressure is used to form this substance into solid planks. To create strand-woven engineered bamboo flooring, a thin slice is cut from one of the solid planks and attached as a veneer onto plywood backing.
Horizontal – Horizontal bamboo flooring retains the classic look of bamboo. It is made by attaching horizontal strips of bamboo together, so that you can still see the individual nodes separating the segments of bamboo stalk in the design of the floor.
Vertical – Vertical bamboo flooring is created by attaching short strips of bamboo to each other vertically and then milling down the material into individual boards. Vertical bamboo flooring tends to resemble the look of hardwood more than any other kind of bamboo flooring.
One of the number one pros of engineered bamboo flooring is that it is eco-friendly. Bamboo grows by expanding its vast root system and shooting stalks up from these roots. When bamboo is harvested to make flooring, it is cut from the center of the stalk, so as not to disturb the root system. This protects and preserves the ecosystem where bamboo grows, making it an eco-friendly harvesting practice.
The manufacturing process for engineered bamboo flooring also utilizes machines that are more energy-efficient than typical wood flooring uses, making sure the entire process is gentle on the environment.
As more homeowners become interested in issues surrounding the climate, the desire for sustainable building materials increases. Many companies are intentionally including information about their green manufacturing processes on websites and brochures. This is one reason why bamboo flooring is becoming so popular!
Bamboo is an extremely fast-growing plant. Most bamboo flooring manufacturers are able to harvest bamboo every 5 – 7 years, which is a massive difference from wood flooring that often requires logging trees that are 50 years old or older.
As we mentioned above, strand-woven engineered bamboo floors are incredibly strong and durable. Woods are rated on the Janka Hardness Scale, and bamboo has a rating of 3,000. Compare that with 1,320 for white oak and 1,820 for hickory.
If you want the value and beauty of hardwood floors but have a high-traffic home, engineered bamboo flooring may be a great option for you. Strand-woven engineered bamboo floors can resist dents and scratches much better than typical hardwoods can, so your floor can look beautiful for decades. Because these floors are so tough, many strand-woven bamboo flooring manufacturers offer warranties of 50 years or more.
Good for Those with Allergies
Almost everyone has a member of their family who suffers from allergies. Allergies can seriously impact your overall wellbeing, and managing allergies in a healthy way is very important. Engineered bamboo flooring is good for those with allergies for several reasons.
First, the surface of the floor is exceptionally smooth and dense, so that small particles and dust have nowhere to hide. Bamboo floors are easy to clean and don’t have the normal cracks and crannies of hardwood floors. This makes it easy to keep your home free and clear of dust mites, pet hair, dust, and other allergens. Second, since bamboo is a grass, it does not absorb moisture the same way that hardwood does. Bamboo floors are great at resisting moisture and the potential for mold and mildew that come with it!
Engineered bamboo floors take the cake compared to hardwoods when it comes to water resistance. While not completely waterproof, engineered bamboo floors are sealed on the surface with a waterproof sealer, so that spills and humidity are blocked from the top. Because of this, many homeowners even install engineered bamboo flooring in places like the kitchen or bathroom that usually see more moisture than other parts of the house. After buying your engineered bamboo flooring, remember to allow it to acclimate to your home’s climate for a few days before installation for best results.
Easy to Assemble
Engineered bamboo floors are DIY friendly because of their interlocking tongue-and-groove system. The pieces simply snap together into a tight fit, making this an easy assembly. In this way, bamboo is similar to other interlocking flooring options like laminate, vinyl plank flooring and some engineered hardwood.
Engineered Bamboo Flooring Cons
Unfortunately, no flooring is perfect. Here are a few factors that might make engineered bamboo flooring the wrong fit for your home.
Most is Not Waterproof
While engineered bamboo flooring is very water resistant, most of it is not fully waterproof. We don’t recommend installing engineered bamboo floors in an area of the house that is routinely damp, like an unfinished basement. As with almost any floor, your bamboo flooring will stay beautiful the longest if you quickly mop up any spills and don’t let standing liquid remain on the floor for long.
Note – There might be one exception to the “water-resistant but not waterproof” claim: Lifeproof bamboo SPC flooring is said to be completely waterproof. The stone plastic/polymer core, or SPC, is the key to waterproof bamboo flooring.
It Usually Can’t Be Refinished
Because the bamboo veneer is so thin on engineered bamboo flooring, this type of floor typically can’t be refinished. While there are some manufacturers that make their bamboo veneer thick enough to be refinished once, many do not recommend sanding down this type of floor.
High Price Range
Engineered bamboo floors typically run about $3 – $9 per square foot. At the higher end of this price range are strand-woven bamboo floors which are more expensive to produce. However, engineered bamboo floors are usually more budget-friendly than engineered hardwoods, and they can add resale value to your home.
Engineered Bamboo Flooring Installation
Engineered bamboo flooring can be easily installed by most homeowners themselves, which saves money on professional installation costs. Engineered bamboo floors are manufactured with a tongue-and-groove system that clicks together to form a solid floor.
Homeowners have the option of either installing this as a floating floor, which is not glued or attached to the subfloor, or installing it using a flooring adhesive to attach it to the subfloor. If you are uncomfortable with installing a floor yourself, no pressure! There are many professionals who will do an excellent job installing engineered bamboo flooring without breaking the bank. Installation labor ranges from $3 to $6 per square foot depending on the difficulty of the work – more trimming in small areas like a hall or bath means a higher cost per square foot.
Engineered Bamboo Flooring Best Brands
Since engineered bamboo flooring is a relatively new type on the market, there are a few manufacturers who really stand out as the best. We’ve made a list of the top bamboo flooring brands and their strengths below.
Teragren – This engineered bamboo flooring brand is excellent at maintaining high-quality work throughout the entire manufacturing process. Teragren does everything from cutting the bamboo to shipping finished flooring products, and they excel in the area of overall quality control. They are also open and honest about their bamboo harvesting practices so that the buyer can feel confident in their product as a green and sustainable flooring from start to finish.
Ambient – Ambient is a large manufacturer that offers top-notch warranties and product guarantees. They offer a lifetime warranty on their bamboo flooring and ensure through testing that their products meet the strictest indoor air quality standards in the world. The finish they use on their bamboo flooring offers 24-hour protection from spills and puddles.
Cali Bamboo – This bamboo flooring manufacturer offers the strongest bamboo flooring available on the market today. It starts with the 3,000 Janka Rating and then gets tougher with proprietary coatings to make Cali Bamboo resistant to scratches, dents and dings. These floors are tougher, stronger than any hardwoods.
Home Decorators – This affordable Home Depot brand offers a good selection of engineered bamboo styles and colors.
LifeProof – This is a newer type of hybrid engineered flooring – part vinyl/plastic and part wood. The core is waterproof and is covered in a thin veneer of genuine, super-hard bamboo. Currently, LifeProof engineered bamboo flooring is available only at the Home Depot.
See our post on Does Waterproof Engineered Hardwood Exist? It has more details on the construction of waterproof hardwood and what your options are for styles and brands.
Other Bamboo Flooring Types
Engineered bamboo flooring isn’t the only bamboo flooring option out there.
Solid bamboo floors made from planks are also widely available on the market today. The three kinds of bamboo floors we talked about (strand-woven, horizontal, and vertical) are also available for solid bamboo floors! If you’re looking for another bamboo option besides engineered bamboo floors, be sure to look into solid bamboo floors.
What about bamboo vinyl plank flooring? If you love the look but are still concerned about water damage, you might find your perfect match in bamboo-look vinyl plank flooring like Cali Bamboo.
Engineered Bamboo vs. Engineered Hardwood
Engineered bamboo floors are very comparable in price to engineered hardwoods. The manufacturing process is quite similar as well, except for the actual milling of the wood. And just like engineered bamboo floors, most engineered hardwood floors can’t be refinished more than once.
One of the biggest differences between these floor types is durability and water-resistance. Strand-woven engineered bamboo floors are stronger and more durable than engineered hardwoods, and they tend to do better with moisture resistance. Engineered hardwoods are sealed with a waterproof sealer, but most of them still tend to expand and shrink with moisture in a way that bamboo floors do not. This makes engineered bamboo floors a better option for damp areas, although engineered hardwoods do very well in dry parts of the house.
What really makes engineered bamboo flooring stand out above engineered hardwoods is the sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing process. You just can’t beat bamboo for eco-friendliness!
We hope this guide has been helpful for you to learn about the pros and cons of engineered bamboo flooring. Whether this type of flooring is right for your home depends on your lifestyle, budget, and aesthetic preferences. Feel free to take a look at our other flooring guides for more information about the many types of flooring available!