Bamboo was initially introduced to the flooring market in the early 1990s and since then it has continued to evolve into different flooring formats. As a result bamboo’s use and demand is on the rise, particularly among eco-conscious consumers.
What is Traditional Bamboo Flooring?
Traditional bamboo, the first iteration of bamboo flooring, was created by cutting round bamboo stalks into endless little strips approximately 1/4″ thick by 5/8″ wide. These strips were then laminated together into one of two formats. The vertical grain format, with numerous 1/4″ wide strips glued together yielding flooring that was 5/8″ thick, had a very linear look. The horizontal grain format was created by edge-gluing 1/4″ by 5/8″ strips together and then gluing 3 layers of these sheets face to face. The horizontal grain bamboo flooring, unlike the vertical grain bamboo, reveals the cross-width “knuckles” that are unique to bamboo. Both formats came in both the natural straw color and a caramel color produced by steaming the bamboo and either could be stained to the color of your choice.
This first-generation of bamboo flooring was launched with great fanfare into the U.S. market and was promptly marketed as harder than oak. Unfortunately much of it was in fact softer than oak and closer in density to walnut, and therefore was easier to dent when walking on it in high-heeled shoes. It was not long before manufacturers began looking for ways to improve bamboo flooring and in the early 2000s strand woven bamboo was introduced to the flooring market.