Sustainable Bamboo Flooring
For a while now bamboo flooring has hit the big time in the green home building and design sector and is still considered to be an eco product. However with the inevitable exploitation of bamboo forests and their surrounding environment it is clear that the need for an intervention and re-assessment of the bamboo industry is reaching a critical point.
Bamboo Flooring pros and cons
Bamboo has been praised for many years as being the new "green" building material and the savior for the forestry industry. It does have every right to such a title. Bamboo is an incredible renewable resource. Although it looks more like a tree it is actually a grass which grows rapidly and can reach full height within a year! Bamboo only takes between 4-7 years to reach maturity at which point it is then harvested. Harvesting of Bamboo at a proper age will actually benefit the health of the plant.
The majority of Bamboo is grown in China, the world's largest producer of bamboo flooring. The bamboo industry produces millions of jobs around the world primarily for low income families and the forestation of bamboo is also fantastic for the environment as bamboo releases approximately 35% more oxygen to the planet than trees.
The grave issue that the bamboo industry now faces is proper certification of forest management and their manufacturing processes. Presently most bamboo forests have not been regulated by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) which essentially ensures that certified forests and related organizations are operating in accordance with highest social and environmental requirements.
As bamboo seems not to be included in such an organization free trade does not exist for many manufacturers, natural forests are being clear-cut to make room for more bamboo plants which has also lead to erosion, and there is also no regulation on the intense use of chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and other toxic products used in production. Toxic binders are often used in the majority of Chinese bamboo flooring manufacturers as well. For a more in-depth look at the industry please read this excellent report written for Dovetail Partners Inc.
The Health Impact of Having Bamboo Floors
Unfortunately most flooring is affected by Formaldehyde which is used in the manufacture of adhesive resins for binders in flooring materials. These binders can in fact release toxic fumes into the home. However there are many manufacturers today that are doing their best to reduce these emissions to produce a more healthy floor.
When choosing a bamboo floor make sure that the floor is compliant with the Forestry Stewardship Council and is abiding as close to the German E1 class standard as possible for off-gassing emissions.
How Bamboo Flooring is Made
All Bamboo flooring is virtually made the same way. Bamboo is first cut and then sliced into long strips which are later appropriately sized for further production. The next step is carbonization which is essentially the highly pressurized steaming of bamboo strips. The longer they are steamed the darker the wood becomes. It is important to note that this process also weakens the wood as well. A boiling process instead of carbonization allows for bamboo to keep its strength and natural color.
The latest in bamboo flooring techniques is a woven strand bamboo floor. This Type of green floor is much stronger than the traditional Bamboo floor as the strips are first woven together along with binders and then pressurized resulting in a very strong flooring product for the home
If you are considering to purchase and install a bamboo floor it would be very wise to consider how much foot traffic you receive in your space. If you are looking to install a bamboo floor in a high traffic area you would be better off selecting a woven strand bamboo floor rather than a traditionally made, dark hued bamboo floor.
A bamboo floor is a terrific product for the home, you just need to do your homework. You need to find a supplier who can guarantee that the manufacturer works with a sustainable forest and that the emissions remain as close to the German E1 Class standard as possible! We recommend trying Vencon, a flooring company dedicated to eco-friendly flooring.
Learn more about using reclaimed hardwood flooring in your home