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Bamboo flooring.
Bamboo floors are manufactured from the bamboo plant. The majority of today's bamboo flooring products originate in Chinamarker and other portions of Asia. The species of bamboo used for flooring is commonly known as "Moso".

Types of bamboo floors

Different forms of bamboo flooring exist. Each varies in its manufacturing process and differs largely based on economic viability and local preferences.

The most common form, particularly in southeast Asia, uses thin bamboo stems that are cut as flat as possible. They are cut to similar lengths and can be stained, varnished, or simply used as is. They are then nailed down to wooden beams or bigger pieces of bamboo stems. This form results in more space between each bamboo stem; flatness and tightness is not emphasized. This technique is usually used on stilted houses, resulting in better air circulation especially during the warmer summer months.

The manufactured bamboo flooring commonly found in North American markets is highly processed. The bamboo is split and flattened, dried, and then laminated in layers with glue under high pressure. Manufactured bamboo floors are typically made available in planks with either vertical- or horizontal-grain orientation.

Bamboo flooring may also be classified as Vertical and Horizontal. In vertical bamboo floors, a vertical plank will have each of the component pieces stood vertically on their narrowest edge and then press laminated side to side. The effect is a lined, almost uniform look to the surface of the finished floor plank. Horizontal bamboo floors have individual slats that are arranged in a horizontal direction, on their widest edge, and then joined side by side with adjacent pieces using a high pressure laminate system. The look of the finished horizontal surface is one where the characteristic nodes of the bamboo are randomly visible.

Locking bamboo flooring is the easiest to install. Individual flooring planks have interlocking joints that click precisely into place.

The two major colors are natural (similar to beech) and carbonized (similar to oak). The process of steaming bamboo material under a controlled pressure and temperature is called carbonization, in which bio-organisms and sugar breaks down, and the color of the material changes into brownish. The carbonization process typically softens the bamboo by 10-20%. The natural and carbonized bamboo floors are typically referred to as solid bamboo, although in fact the structures are layered, similar to a plywood. By combining plank alignment and color a lot of different styles can be produced.

Characteristics and applications

Bamboo floor manufacturers and sellers promote its durability as well as resistance to insects and moisture. Bamboo has also gained a reputation as an eco-friendly, highly renewable source of material, as the bamboo plant (technically a grass) reaches maturity in considerably less time than the trees used to make wood floors. The United States Green Building Council's LEED program allows points for the use of bamboo floors by virtue of it being a rapidly-renewable resource. However, controversy exists over agricultural and manufacturing issues related to the production of bamboo floors, including the environmental effects of deforestation in order to plant bamboo and the use of carcinogenic chemicals such as urea-formaldehyde in the glues used for lamination in some products.

References

  1. MOSO Bamboo styles
  2. Bowyer, Jim et al. 2005. Bamboo Flooring: Environmental Silver Bullet or Faux Savior? Dovetail Partners, Inc. research paper
  3. The Environmentally Responsible Construction and Renovation Handbook, PWGSC, 2000.


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