More and more living-green and budget-minded homeowners and designers are selecting bamboo flooring for new construction and remodeling projects. Bamboo's distinctive grain patterns, renewable nature, exceptional durability, low maintenance requirements, and economical cost (about $2-$8 per square foot) make it an attractive material for every room in the house.
Bamboo, a fast-growing grass, supplies a bounty of stalks and shoots that are harvested without destroying the original plants. Through various boiling, fusion, and pressure techniques, the plant material is formed into woodlike planks that commonly measure 3-9 inches wide and 3-6 feet long. Bamboo flooring can be purchased as solid boards, which may require nailing or gluing down, or engineered planks, which are typically easy-to-install glueless click systems. Because bamboo flooring is more resistant to water than hardwood flooring, it can be installed in basements as long as the proper subflooring or underlayment is used.
You'll find three different types of bamboo flooring: Vertical bamboo flooring is created by fusing stalks vertically to fashion a pattern that sports consistent lines, which in turn presents a modern look. Horizontal bamboo flooring fuses alternating layers of bamboo to showcase the plants' growth joints, which gives this type of bamboo flooring an organic appearance. Strand-woven bamboo -- the hardest of the bunch -- is formed from shredded bamboo fibers that are compressed under extreme heat and pressure. Within these categories are direct-printed options made to look like hardwoods, such as hickory, maple, oak, and walnut, for those who desire a traditional look but want the advantages offered by bamboo flooring.
The bamboo flooring category offers a wealth of stylish options, rendered in a good-looking array of colors, finishes, and grain patterns. Like their hardwood counterparts, bamboo floorboards can be found in natural, cream, brown, tan, honey, black, bronze, and gray stained finishes. Carbonized bamboo, which is crafted from fibers that have been boiled long enough to caramelize, sports rich butterscotch undertones and is softer than other types of bamboo. Another exotic option? Tiger bamboo combines natural and carbonized bamboo strips to create a pattern resembling tiger stripes.
In addition to being offered in wide-ranging colors, bamboo flooring is available in smooth, antiqued, and distressed finishes. Smooth-finish bamboo flooring is manufactured and coated with layers of sealant, which results in a surface that doesn't gather dust and can be easily cleaned. Hand-scraped and hand-sculpted bamboo flooring brings aged character underfoot, but it's more costly than smooth-finish versions. Wide planks, measuring 5-9 inches in width and done up in whitewashed or driftwood tones, fashion fetching foundations for informal looks ranging from industrial loft to beach cottage to American farmhouse. Narrower bevel-edge boards sporting conventional natural or printed wood-grain patterns enhance traditional and transitional designs. Ebony-hue bamboo floors beautifully anchor posh furnishings, warmly ground white kitchens and bathrooms, and add pleasingly unexpected panache to both old-world and modern spaces.
Bamboo floors are easy to maintain, but like any hardworking surface will endure longer when attended to properly. Keep incoming dirt, moisture, and pebbles from scratching floors by positioning mats inside and outside exterior doors that open to bamboo-floor areas. Protect high-traffic stretches and kids' play spaces with area rugs. Place floor protectors beneath furniture pieces to prevent dents.
Use a dust mop or a soft cloth broom to clean floors daily, immediately wipe up spills, and damp mop floors weekly with water to maintain and extend their good looks. Wring your mop out well; too-wet mops may push water into the floor's seams, which will cause damage to bamboo boards.
When shopping for bamboo floors, take time to compare all the options that fall within your budget. Look online at the different types of bamboo flooring, and stop at a flooring showroom or home center to get an up-close look at different styles. You're likely to be impressed (maybe even awed!) by the range of colors, patterns, and textures that are sure to beguile your designing eye.
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