Both engineered timber flooring and bamboo flooring are commonly used in the building sector today. Both of them also have some unique features that you should be aware of. Anything engineered floors can do, bamboo can do too.
The major difference between these two types of flooring is in the way that they are manufactured. Bamboo flooring is made of bamboo particles pressed together under extreme pressure or heat which provides a very strong and hard bamboo surface (strand woven bamboo). Engineered timber flooring is made of several layers of different type of wood components. The top layer is created from any species of wood and it appears identical to solid hardwood floors. The inner layers are made of plywood or high density fibreboard.
Both bamboo and engineered are available in countless finishes and textures.
When it comes to durability you will find that both engineered and bamboo floors offer great durability and a long lifespan. The lifespan of an engineered hardwood floor depends on the wear layer, thickness and the hardness of the wood species. Bamboo floors (strand woven) are known for their strength and durability and they can range from 1180 to over 5000 based on the Janka hardness test. These impressive numbers indicate that certain types of bamboo planks are stronger than oak, walnut or maple.
One of the biggest differences between these two types of flooring is the price. Engineered timber flooring is going to be more expensive than strand woven bamboo flooring in most cases. Bamboo floors not only cost less than engineered hardwood floors, the maintenance and installation costs are also significantly less.
The growth rate of bamboo is exceptionally fast, which makes it the most environmentally friendly floor on the market today. Bamboo plants reach full maturity faster than most trees, which can take as long as 40+ years to grow.
Both engineered and bamboo floors are moisture resistant, which can actually add more stability to your floor. Engineered hardwood flooring is designed to reduce the moisture problems associated with hardwood floors. Its layers block moisture therefore it will not swell or shrink, making it very low maintenance. Bamboo flooring is considered to be made from one of the biggest growing grasses therefore it is naturally resistant to moisture, mold and bacteria.
Installation of bamboo floors is a fairly quick and easy DIY process, especially with certified and well-known click systems. Most engineered timber floors are installed using either a glue-down method, or with nails, which can often cost more when compared to bamboo flooring.
Manufacturers of both engineered timber and bamboo flooring should be carefully researched before making a buying decision, as there are many manufacturers that will try to cut corners by either using toxic chemicals that can cause health risks, or not using high density fibre-boards. There are others who sell very cheap, immature bamboo flooring, which is coated with a cheap and toxic coating of finish – these types of distributors are unfortunately giving bamboo a bad name.
With no official quality rating for most bamboo or engineered wood products, it’s very difficult to judge the quality stacked on shelves. Pricing really is your best guide – and it’s important to stick with reputable brands. Alternatively get hold of samples and put them through some scratch testing.