Bamboo flooring and laminate flooring have changed a lot in recent years, both improving in quality, durability, ease of maintenance and just about every area they can. Technology has made it possible to make these floors stronger, more inexpensive to produce and easier to install than ever before. So which one should you choose?
As is the case with everything, it’s a matter of personal choice and definitely depends on the application. It also depends on your budget, but bamboo floors have become very affordable and easy to install. This will make it tougher to decide between bamboo flooring and laminate flooring, but the good news is, you should be able to get exactly what you want for the price you want to pay.
If you’re installing a floor in the kitchen, both laminate and bamboo flooring can be great choices. It’s never a good idea to let spills sit around on any type of floor unless it specifically states its being a waterproof floor. There are waterproof floors, but laminate floors and bamboo floors are not those.
Bamboo is porous and so are the HDF cores used to make laminate floors and they don’t do well when water is added to the equation. Spills that sit around can work their way into the gaps and can cause swelling at the joints or even buckling. It takes some time for this to happen, and provided you clean up spills quickly a well-manufactured floor can take some spills.
What you have to ask yourself is why you think you need a laminate floor in lieu of natural floor like bamboo. They can be remarkably similar in style and performance, but laminate can have some advantages over certain types of bamboo floors.
Laminate floors are floating floors and install over flooring underlayment. It’s called a “floating floor” because the floor itself isn’t attached to the subfloor. Only the planks are attached to each other using a click locking mechanism. When made well, these floors are very easy to install and it’s why they are the choice for many do-it-yourself flooring projects. But that doesn’t mean that bamboo flooring can’t be just as easy to install as laminate flooring. What once was an advantage laminate floors had over bamboo floors is not so much of an advantage anymore.
Now there are click bamboo floors that can be floated over flooring underlayment just like a laminate floor. These are called click engineered HDF core bamboo floors and they’re becoming very popular as an alternative to laminate floors. They install exactly the same way as laminate flooring and some even have an attached underlayment.
Instead of a photo of wood or another natural material, click engineered HDF core bamboo has a veneer of bamboo attached to an HDF core. It’s basically a hybrid providing the impact resistance and easy installation benefits of laminate flooring while giving you the natural material on the surface. This can be a great alternative for those who can’t decide over bamboo vs. laminate.
Even though bamboo is harder than most natural woods, like wood, it’s still prone to scratching and requires a finishing system to be applied to the surface. The amount of finish coats and quality of construction has a lot to do with the surface durability of the floor.
The better quality laminate floors are typically very durable on the surface and often why people choose laminate flooring over bamboo flooring. A good quality laminate floor can be highly resistant to scratches and dents, as to where bamboo flooring is a little more prone to these things happening. It’s not easy to do, but it’s better to exercise a little more care when moving furniture or heavy appliances. That’s a good rule for any type of floor.
Another thing to take into consideration when choosing between laminate flooring and bamboo flooring is from an environmental perspective. Bamboo is well known for being green flooring material, and when made correctly, it certainly can be one of the most environmentally friendly floors in the world. It’s been used in China for thousands of years to make just about everything, from teapots to entire homes. It grows in abundance and is readily available. However, that doesn’t mean that laminate floors can’t be environmentally friendly.
In many cases, most of what makes a laminate floor is made from recycled materials. The HDF core is usually made from sawdust created by the milling of other floors. There are chemicals and adhesives used in the process, and some are more environmentally friendly than others. Making a good laminate floor is very much a science and too much or too little of something can make a dramatic difference in a floor’s quality, and even its safety.
Consumer demand for both laminate floors and bamboo floors has skyrocketed in the last decade alone, leading to thousands of choices from hundreds of manufacturers. Many of these manufacturers’ business strategies have more to do with being able to provide the lowest price than creating a quality floor that will last. In order to do that, corners are cut and quality suffers.
These products can even emit toxic fumes that permeate your home and make your family ill. This is way too large a price to pay for .25 per sq. ft. savings, and why you have to be extra careful when shopping for any type of engineered flooring or even green flooring product. Just because a natural, eco-friendly source material is used doesn’t mean that low-quality chemicals weren’t. It also doesn’t mean that those chemicals weren’t disposed of illegally or that the factory workers are treated with the care that all human beings should enjoy. There are a lot of things going on behind a floor that you never see, and it’s not only important that you take a harder look for the planet, but also for your home and for your family.
If you still can’t decide between laminate flooring and bamboo flooring, the best thing to do is pick some bamboo floors that you like, and then pick some laminate floors that you like. There are even laminate floors that look like bamboo and are very convincing.
Choose your favorites of each, and then compare the pros and cons. And once you’ve narrowed your decision down, the right one for you will more easily standout and your decision should be a lot easier.