When you are searching for different types of hardwood flooring, you’ll likely see something popping up that’s not actually hardwood floor. That would be bamboo. Bamboo is not even a wood. It is a grass that grows very quickly. It can be used to create flooring that looks and feels like hardwood flooring; that’s why it is often included in the ranks of hardwood floors. So, if you’re looking for a hardwood floor, should you consider bamboo floor?
Wood tends to be ranked on the janka hardness scale. The janka hardness scale is useful in terms of flooring because it helps you determine how resilient it will be. For example, a soft wood like pine can be scratched with a fingernail. That means that chairs sliding around, pet claws, and high heels can scratch the flooring. Therefore, the floor will not last very longer in pristine condition before you need to have it repaired or replaced. Alternately, an incredibly hard wood will last for a very long time. So, where does bamboo rank against hardwoods?
For context, a white oak hardwood floor has a hardness rating of 1360 on the janka hardness scale. That puts it near the middle of hardnesses for flooring woods. The way the bamboo is processed and how it is woven will affect the hardness but it begins around 1650 on the hardness scale. It can get as hard as 5150 on the hardness scale. That means that most bamboo is harder than an oak floor.
How it is Processed
How the bamboo is processed will determine how hard it is. Since bamboo is a grass, it is processed differently than wood. Typically, a wooden plank is simply cut from a large tree trunk. That is the method for a solid plank hardwood. For bamboo, the different strains of grass are flattened and then woven together like wicker. They’re then pressed into a single board. If they’re woven and pressed horizontally, they won’t be as hard as bamboo woven and pressed vertically. Alternately, the strands can be actually woven in criss-crossing sections. That will create the hardest possible planks.
The woven bamboo flooring planks are the ones that can be as hard as 5150 on the janka hardness scale.
The major drawback of bamboo is that it has fairly uniform grain that looks something like tiger stripes and not like wood grain. That’s why many people still choose hardwood instead of bamboo.