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Which flooring is harder – bamboo or red oak?

April 6, 2010

Spring is here and some of us are probably thinking about new construction projects around the house. I was looking at my kitchen floor the other day and thought that the quality of the bamboo was not good at all because only in three years it has so many scratches and is beginning to look old. Being an architect and having to occasionally advise clients on products I decided to research what to look for when buying bamboo flooring.

I found that bamboo takes six years to reach maturity. An astonishing fact I learnt is that if bamboo is harvested properly after reaching maturity it can be 25% harder than red oak!! If harvested early it is very soft and causes damage to the plant. Some places harvest in thee years or so which causes the floor to be soft and get easily dented. I suspect this is the lot I have installed in my kitchen. Moso bamboo is the best choice for flooring. Bamboo is advertised to be environmentally friendly but it needs to be sustainably harvested at the right time to live up to that statement.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include a variety of chemicals that are knows to have negative health impacts (and don’t let the word ‘organic’ fool you here.. not every thing organic is good!). The manufacturing process for bamboo flooring should also have water-based, solvent free, low VOC finishes.

The janka ball test is designed to measure the hardness level of wood floors and the higher the number the better. A manufacturer of bamboo flooring, Teragren, advertises that their Synergy strand bamboo has an average hardness of 3271 due to a proprietary manufacturing process, making it 154% harder than red oak.

My floor was not very expensive. It was from Home Depot and was probably improperly harvested which has caused denting and scratching. Having to replace it negates the eco-friendly aspect of bamboo.

-By Noerah

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2010 5:30 pm

    That is interesting about the hardness, and not surprising about Home Depot… My new flooring (and countertop) fantasy obsession is with poured and polished concrete. I wonder how that weighs in! I figure, it’s nearly indestructible, and that would be a good thing for me!

  2. April 7, 2010 6:01 pm

    I love polished concrete: this is a house I worked on at my last job, one of the slides shows the kitchen w/ the poured concrete floor and counters!

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