Bamboo flooring is denser and more durable than most solid woods; and also less prone to warp and slightly less expensive. But its quality varies, depending on the species of bamboo, its age and manufacturing technology.
discount vs. quality bamboo flooring
There isn't any national or international grading system for bamboo; only certifications provided by third parts (FloorScore, SCS, Forest Stewardship Council...) to which some bamboo manufacturers voluntarily submit their products.
When choosing, pay attention to the warranties provided by the bamboo suppliers; high warranties (25 years…) can be a sign of quality.
Be cautious with discount bamboo flooring (or with low-cost oak, maple or cherry flooring); low-priced bamboo flooring may come from bamboo harvested before maturity or from softer species, or from manufacturers using dangerous chemicals (bamboo manufacturing may use large amounts of VOC's and formaldehyde).
Products made with soft and young bamboo, are prone to problems like cupping and warping.Bamboo vs wood flooring Bamboo is not a tree. It’s a giant grass... While trees may take 50, 100 or more years to mature, bamboo reaches its maturity in about 4-7 years - and that ca make bamboo flooring a more eco-friendly choice...
Comparing bamboo with Oak or Maple wood flooring
Adding resale value: high quality bamboo flooring can add resale value to homes, especially when compared with laminate products. It doesn't provide mare value than oak, maple or cherry flooring.
Durability: properly maintained high-quality bamboo will last many decades, like other oak or mapple flooring.
Use in kitchens, bathrooms: it isn't advisable to use bamboo or any other wood product in kitchens or bathrooms.
Damage from pets and children: bamboo can be a scratch-resistance choice; but it varies with the hardness of the bamboo (see below). You have to take into account its hardness, and the hardness of maple, oak or cherry.
The hardness of bamboo flooring vs. maple, oak or cherry hardwood flooring
Harder woods are more scratch-resistant, which is important for high-traffic rooms and for families with pets. Good quality bamboo performance at this level is good: quality bamboo is harder than hardwoods such as Black Cherry, Eucalyptus or Red Oak.
The hardness of natural bamboo can range between 1300 and 1380 (Janka Test). You should compare it with the hardness of other woods: Silver Maple (700), Red Maple (950), Hard Maple/Sugar Maple (1450)
Just do not forget that new manufacturing methods can double or triple the hardness of softer woods. And this means that strand-woven (a manufacturing technology) silver maple - a typically soft wood - can be stronger than common solid bamboo; but it also means that strand-woven bamboo planks can be stronger than the strongest oak, maple or Brazilian cherry.
On the other hand, the very common dark bamboo (carbonized) as a much lower hardness. Natural bamboo is a light color; the manufacturing of dark bamboo may involve steaming the strips under high pressure and heat, which greatly reduces its hardness.
Is bamboo flooring more environmentally friendly than oak and Maple Flooring?
Bamboo requires very little fertilizer and pesticides and, in this sense, can be a highly renewable product; it also requires very few years (5-7) to reach maturity, which contrasts with the dozens of years of many trees - in this sense bamboo can be a more environmentally-friendly choice than oak or maple flooring. Just make sure that the bamboo comes from environmentally-managed forests.
Solid vs. Laminate bamboo flooring
Instead of solid bamboo, the core of laminate bamboo flooring is made from agricultural and fiber crops and resins. And its surface and backing layer is a mere decorative paper, embedded in resins and pigments, imitating natural bamboo pattern.
In other words: laminate bamboo flooring is no different from oak, cherry, maple or other laminates. It may look, sound and feel like solid bamboo flooring; and it may have advantages (price, structural stability), but it's not real bamboo (like oak or other hardwood laminates).
Solid vs. engineered bamboo, oak, cherry and Maple flooring
You can buy engineered bamboo flooring, as you can buy engineered oak, maple or cherry flooring. In this case you have a top layer of real bamboo (say a quarter-inch-thick layer) and a core made from glued plywood, sawdust, wood scraps or other vegetal fibers.
BAMBOO VS EUCALYPTUS FLOORING
Like bamboo, some eucalyptus species grow quickly. They may take less than 10 years to mature (many bamboo species take 4-7 years, some pines take around 20 years, while most hardwood species take 50-150 years). In this sense, like bamboo, eucalyptus is a more environmentally sustainable option than other wood species. Besides, eucalyptus flooring is available in patterns, colors and prices very similar to other hardwood choices and to bamboo.
Engineered bamboo (like engineered oak or maple) has the advantages and disadvantages of all engineered woods. It can be less expensive (but not necessarily) and more structurally stable than solid bamboo, but can only be sanded and refinished two or three times, depending on the thickness of the top layer.
Bamboo flooring costs vs Oak, Maple and Cherry Flooring Costs
Teragren is a major brand in high-quality bamboo. They have a wide range of solid bamboo flooring certificated by third parts and offer extended warranties (25 years), but do not expect prices below $6-$8 per square foot (installation not included).
Bamboo Mountain is another well-known American manufacturer, with slightly lower prices.
Large energy improvement stores offer much more competitive prices; their discount brands - with all the risks mentioned above - start at less than $2 per square foot. In other words: though high-quality bamboo isn't inexpensive, on average bamboo flooring is less expensive than equivalent maple, cherry or oak flooring.