Although often taken for granted, the flooring of any building is quite important, and any homeowner or guest in a public building will soon notice if the flooring is compromised somehow. Cracked and stained concrete floors in a warehouse may soon be fixed, and warped, twisted, creaky, or scratched wooden floorboards elsewhere may soon draw complaints of anyone who walks on them. This means that the United States is home to a robust flooring industry, and these contractors work with construction crews when constructing a new building. They can also be hired to renovate a house or office if the current floors are in poor shape, making this a flexible field. Traditionally, hardwood species are used to make this wood, but eco-friendly materials such as bamboo flooring, bamboo floor trim, and eucalyptus flooring have emerged as strong competitors to hardwood. Hardwood construction has long since proven its worth in North America, but constant logging deforestation are becoming a concern for many, so eco-friendly materials like bamboo may step in. How can these eco-friendly materials make a difference? Can they really replace hardwood?
The Right Materials
Natural bamboo flooring and eucalyptus flooring are becoming an ever-larger sector of the flooring market, and not without good reason. While hardwood species such as cherry and oak have been excellent for construction since colonial times, the modern scale of construction is straining North American forests. Many people are concerned about excessive logging and destruction of natural habitats for wood, but the flooring industry cannot simply afford to have its supplies cut off. If the forests are to be saved, then another material will have to take their place to keep that industry going. Fortunately, viable and eco-friendly materials are available: bamboo and eucalyptus.
What’s the difference, other than name? Hardwood trees are useful, but they take 20 years or more to mature, and today’s forests are being logged much faster than they can regrow, leading to deforestation rates that many have declared unacceptable. By contrast, bamboo is a woody grass that is renowned for its rapid growth, and these wooden stalk are a fine option for making floorboards and similar materials. Native to Asia, bamboo plants take about three to five years to reach maturity once they are planted, much faster than hardwood trees. Better yet, once these plants are harvested for their stalks for the first time, they can regrow even faster. A bamboo plant can be harvested repeatedly and frequently for materials without even killing the plant. This makes bamboo highly sustainable, and it also eases the pressure on hardwood forests. The demand for logging may decrease as the use of bamboo increases to replace it.
Making and Using Bamboo Floorboards
Bamboo stalks are not suitable for use as floorboards as they appear in nature. Rather, these stalks, once they are mature, will be harvested and then processed to form planks and floor trim. Factories, typically Chinese ones, will slice and shred these stalks into fibers, and then use heat, glues, and pressure to fuse them into solid planks. In many cases, these bamboo planks are jut as tough and durable as the hardwood ones that they replace, if not more so. These bamboo planks can then be shipped around the world, and even high-quality bamboo planks can compete with hardwood on the market (such as based on price per square foot during installation). Flooring contractors may find bamboo and eucalyptus planks to be highly durable and intuitive to install, and many homeowners and public building owner alike may request their installation. A museum, for example, may like the modern, clean, and soft look of bamboo flooring and have some installed.
Bamboo flooring is tough and an eco-friendly material material, and it’s also low-maintenance, typically only requiring wet mopping if dirty and easy refinishing if it suffers from scratches. It can also be carbonized to darken its color for aesthetics. Anyone who gets bamboo installed should exercised caution, though, since bamboo suffers from extremes of moisture. A very arid and dry environment (after enough time) will cause bamboo floors to shrink and crack, compromising them. Very humid areas, meanwhile, may cause bamboo floorboards to warp and twist over time. Moderate climates may be best for this type of flooring.