Is bamboo flooring better than hardwood floors?
There are some advantages to both hardwood and bamboo flooring options. Hardwood floors like oak and maple come in a variety of colors, widths and finishes; bamboo, however, is limited to just a few shades; the most widely available are natural (a light blond color), and carbonized (a medium brown color that's created by heating the bamboo, which makes it slightly softer). Both are durable, attractive and relatively easy to install.
But is bamboo green?
There is an argument that bamboo flooring is more sustainable than hardwood flooring. Bamboo reportedly holds more carbon than trees, so it helps to ward off global climate change
. A hardwood oak or maple tree takes many decades to mature; bamboo, on the other hand, is a renewable, fast-growing grass that quickly regenerates after cutting. It grows so fast, and has become such a popular flooring option, that many acres of forestland in Asia are reportedly being cut down so locals can grow bamboo.
Cutting down forests to grow bamboo doesn't sound very green.
It isn't, which is why many people now believe bamboo isn't much of a green product -- call it "greenish." There are also concerns about transporting the product from overseas, which diminishes its green appeal, and the formaldehyde
used in processing most bamboo flooring is recognized as a cancer-causing compound. Finally, some critics have noted the fast growth of bamboo is sometimes augmented with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
You've totally killed my buzz for bamboo flooring. Thanks a lot.
Bamboo still has many sustainable attributes, like those listed above, and there is some progress being made in making it even better. Some bamboo growers and manufacturers, for example, have now achieved certification from the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)
for their cultivation and manufacturing practices. And a handful of manufacturers have claimed to use different formulations of formaldehyde (or other compounds) that are healthier.
So is bamboo sustainable or not?
A lot depends on the source of the bamboo and the manufacturer -- check, for example, if both the grower and the manufacturer are FSC-certified. Bamboo is listed as a green material by LEED
. And remember that other options might be as green or greener than bamboo. Cork, linoleum, and reclaimed hardwoods have attracted attention as great green flooring alternatives. Take a look at these and other options, and make the best choice you can.