Bamboo Floors

Archived Q&A and Reviews

2008 - 2013 Recommendations

Cork and bamboo flooring with kids & pets?

April 2011

I know there are discussions in the archives about flooring, but I'd love to hear from folks who have been living with bamboo or cork floors for some years and how satisfied they are. We are purchasing a foreclosure and need to install new floors and are considering these two types. We have two small children and would like to get a dog and/or cat which would spend at least some time indoors. Thanks! Rose

Hi. We got a cork kitchen floor about 6 years ago and I think it still looks great. I was kind of nervous about it at the time because we have three boys (no pets) and every one is always tracking in water from the hot tub. There are a few 'dents' in the cork where our kitchen tables legs hit...its a heavy table so when we move it a little, it does leave small dents. But no real visible scratches or warping or anything.

But generally I can't believe how good the floor still looks. We picked the pattern that is like centimeter thick 'strips' of cork and it has a very speckled or mottled look. this has been great because it covers literally ALL dirt. And its so speckled already that any dents are sort of covered up. I was also worried that the seams between the tiles would be visible and I think because we picked the pattern that already had 'strips' of cork in it, the seams are not really visible.

We bought the cork (floating 'tiles) from Eco home improvement and the guy who installed it said that we could preserve it more if we put a layer of polypropylene over the top. We didn't do that just b/c we were lazy, but even still, the floor looks good. very pleasantly surprised by my cork kitchen

My wife and I put in a floating cork floor in our kitchen six or seven years ago. It is great and has lasted well.

We used the 'burl' style floor, and it is great--really hides dirt. We've had a baby since then, and he loved to play in the pot lids when he was young, so at the right angle, you can see a lot of dents in the floor in that section. But generally, it is very forgiving, especially with potential dents from chairs or dropping knives.

The install we did went pretty well, but we thought we'd need to put on a sealer afterwards (after all, there is water in the kitchen). Putting on the sealer was not easy-- hard to get it not streaky and even. In hindsight, we should have either had a professional put on the sealer, or skipped it altogether, since I believe the panels were sealed anyway. Have not had an issue though with water getting into the seams. We are happy with the product. Bryan

We installed both in our home and I would have to say I would never again install Bamboo flooring! it is hard to keep looking good, scratches and gouges cannot be fixed and it does not wear well. it is a real bugger to clean, we ended up using a floor steamer as nothing else we tried worked.

Cork on the other hand is easy on the legs, easy to clean, looks good, very low maintenance. Also, imo, more affordable than the bamboo which ended up being very expensive. no more bamboo for me

We've had bamboo floors for about 7-8 years (with 2 kids/2 cats over that time), and I like them. They do show some scratches/dents, but they're the first wooden floors I've lived with, so I don't know if it's more or less than other types of wood. I don't find the wear unattractive, and honestly, we live pretty hard on them - there are lots of toy trucks, scooters, etc. at our house. The only thing I'd change if I had it to do over again is to get the darker 'carbonized' color rather than the light 'natural' color, as the light color shows dirt. Overall, I'd buy bamboo again in a heartbeat. JP
First be aware that not all cork or all bamboo flooring is the same. Quality, thickness, and sources vary a lot. When comparing people's experiences, you really need to know the details.

We've had (and loved) our cork flooring in the kitchen for five years now. We chose to use Expanko glue-down tiles based on their thickness (thicker than many) color choice (all natural-looking shades of brown which is done by heating, which penetrates, not dying which is more likely to fade), and good installation guidelines (MAKE SURE YOUR INSTALLER FOLLOWS THEM!). We also had several finish coats put on, as advised by the manufacturer.

It is very soft underfoot, nothing (well, almost nothing) ever breaks when dropped on it, and it looks good even with infrequent cleaning (advantage? - you decide!) We don't have any pets, so I can't speak to how it would hold up to claws, but it's the most walked-on floor in our house and looks good, I think. I'd be happy to let you look at ours if you're interested (in Albany). rk

2004 - 2007 Recommendations

Is bamboo flooring a good choice?

Sept 2006

I am tearing out the carpet and would like to intall hardwood floor. I have heard about bamboo flooring but do not know anyone who have it at home so would like to get some opinion and where to get good buy and services. Wen

We chose bamboo because we read that it was as hard as other woods, and because its look and environmental goodness. We regret it. We find that it dents and scratches easily. Part of the problem may be that we got the lighter colored bamboo (which is also not good for us because we are not super clean). Also, the color is uneven between batches (make sure your installers mix it well), and exposure to sun through the windows changes the color markedly (Where we have had rugs and where furniture has been positioned is obvious). Best of luck Dan
We had our ground floor (i.e., entry, hall, kitchen, living room, and dining area) bambooed two years ago, and we love it. It's ''green,'' looks cool, is easy to clean, and adds plenty to the value of our place. We used Mike Mitschang of Berkeley. Don't have his number handy, but he did an excellent job and stayed within his quote, too Melanie

Considering bamboo floors in 2 or 3 rooms

June 2005

Hello all, we are considering replacing the gnarly old rugs in 2 or 3 rooms of our house with bamboo flooring. Has anyone done this recently-there are no recs for this type of flooring. Who did yours or is DIY possible? thank you! bamboo floor girl

We replaced most of the flooring in our house with bamboo last year. We did it ourselves, using tougue-and-groove flooring from Lumber Liquidators (off Gilman in Berkeley). The people there were knowledgeable and gave us some good advice. It wasn't too hard - the only real installation issue we ran into is that our old house isn't square anymore, so we had to do some fancy cutting - you'll want a good jigsaw/tablesaw/mitre saw or the like. We laid it directly over the concrete slab using a moisture-barrier adhesive. It's held up pretty well (including in the kitchen) - my only caveat is that it's somewhat soft and does have some scratches, but nothing I can't live with. Oh, and I would also recommend going with a darker (I think they call it carbonized) shade of bamboo - we got the light stuff, and it shows a lot of dirt - have to mop (water and vinegar works great) all the time. But I do like the floors overall, and get lots of compliments on them. JP
We put in a Bamboo floor about 5 years ago. Although I love the way it looks, it is not wearing as well as I would like it to. I do not really know why. We do have a child, but we are rather fanatical about our possessions, and have treated the floor with care. It has gotten pretty scratched up, and has faded pretty dramatically from the sun. I know this because part of it is covered by a rug, and when you pull the rug back you can sure see the difference. Someone who spent quite a bit of time in the flooring business told me to hire someone to sand it down and then polyurethane (sp?) it. I might do it, but feel that the floor should have lasted longer than 5 years.

The floor was installed by Amber Flooring, and I have to tell you that I would not use them again. While they did an excellent job refinishing my upstairs floor, I was not nearly as pleased with the floor installation. Sloppy finishing work, (not craftsman). I do not believe that they had anything to do with the lack of performance of the floor. I think it is inherent to the material, but I could be wrong. Leslie

My husband installed Bamboo flooring throughout our house a couple of years ago. It still looks gorgeous, guest continue to complement on our floor. We bought a book about hardwood flooring installation which helped. I have an architecture background and my husband has since become a contractor. So yes it is possible to do it yourself, but it does require a certain level of handiness. Also if you purchase the bamboo at Lumber Liquidators they often offer good advice and have the nailers available to rent. There is both nail down and glue down installed bamboo. I strongly recommend the nail-down, it looks much more professional. If you want some more info, please email me. Viviana

Bamboo floors in the kitchen

Jan 2005

I recently saw a post discouraging bamboo flooring in the kitchen and I wanted to post an alternative opinion and refute some of the claims made.

We put bamboo flooring in our kitchen (and our living, dining and bathroom areas) in 2000 and we continue to love it. The previous poster mentioned that Bamboo was soft and dented easily. A couple of comments here: First bamboo is extremely hard; harder than many hardwoods available on the market. Indeed, it's so hard that it is used for external building scaffolding in many asian cities. (Google some websites for comparisons). Second, it is true that if you drop a cast iron skillet on the floor you're going to get a dent, but that's true with any wood at all. The upside is that if you drop a plate on the floor, you're less likely to break it than if it were dropped on tile. There are some reasons not to use Bamboo in your kitchen, but strength of the wood is not one of them. Most research suggests that bamboo is as hard as hard maple and 50% more stable than red oak. Oak and Maple are typically the woods found on floors.

Bamboo is actually a grass, not a wood. Accordingly, it makes a good environmental substitute. It matures in three to five years, regenerates without replanting and is naturally pest resistent.

I would encourage anyone to put beautiful Bamboo in any room in the house. We would do it again. tsan

Installers for bamboo flooring

June 2004

We're interested in installing bamboo flooring downstairs. We've checked out Floor Dimensions in Albany, and were quoted $15-$16 per square foot, labor and material, for carbonized bamboo, protected with 6 coats of urethane, plus a top coat of aluminum (?) oxide. (We realize that the urethane makes the project less green, although sturdier.) Any recommendations about the installation and possible installers of such flooring? Melanie

The Floor Show installs bamboo flooring. I think they can also use a water based finish that is more green (and much less hard on your nose and lungs)- at least they used that on our hardwood. Their number is 845-4633. Happy with our hardwood
Bamboo floor: we used pre-finished bamboo flooring from Greenwood Products. We priced it at both Floor Dimensions (in El Cerrito), and at the Berkeley Design Center. It was MUCH cheaper at the BDC (do not be taken in the ''discount'' feel at Floor Dimensions). It looks very nice, but it does already have various little dents and nics, which you really wouldn't notice without looking closely. My 2-year old has something to do with this. It is hard, but not as hard or durable as tile. On the other hand, it is not as hard on your legs and feet when cooking for hours.

2003 & Earlier

Thinking about installing bamboo floors


I am interested in installing Bamboo floors in our house, and was wondering what other people's experience was: can you recommend a contractor? how long is the process? is it very dusty or can you live in the house while it is being done (with a newborn baby)? how much can I expect it to cost? are they any more difficult to maintain than regular hardwood floors? I searched the website, and most of the recommendations seemed to be for refinishing hardwood floors. Perhaps the same contractors do bamboo floor installation? Thanks for any advice or information! Shahana

They can be installed just like hardwood floors. They come either unfinished (in which case you have to allow for sanding and varnishing just like hardwood) or they come pre-finished (Ply-bo) and can be installed in a couple of days and relatively cleanly. Many hardwood floor installers (such as Tulip floors) install bamboo floors. Good luck. -Stevie
We installed bamboo flooring when we built my husband's sound studio last summer. We bought it at Eco Timber in Berkeley (behind OSH on Ashby). They are beautiful. Everyone admires them, and most people are amazed to learn they are bamboo. The staff at Eco Timber are very knowledgeable and personable. The carpenter who did the rest of the work did the installation, but I am sure that Eco Timber have a list of carpenters that they work with or that they can refer you to. Of course, I have no knowledge as to how this would work if you are installing them in a pre-existing structure. It took our carpenter two days to install them in the studio, but that was not a very large area. I'm sure Eco Timber can advise you. As to their care, you want to make sure you keep dirt and gritty materials like sand off the surface and to put fabric-faced glides on the bottom of furniture. And, as with hardwood floors, it is not a good idea to walk around them on exposed heels (which can scratch any surface, even concrete). Dust mopping and vacuuming are best for normal cleaning. Spills should be cleaned up right away. For deeper cleaning, you can add a small amount of vinegar to water and damp mop with as dry a mop or sponge as you can. The key is not allowing the surface to get very wet.

The best part of bamboo flooring is that it is a highly sustainable material. It can be cut every four years without damaging the bamboo. Try doing that to a tree! -Sarah

We installed bamboo flooring 3 years ago. The process is exactly the same as installing hardwood. The planks are milled like most hardwood planks, in 'tongue and groove' fashion. The cost was also in the same range as hardwood. We had ours installed by Tulip flooring folks. They were pretty good and not the least expensive!

The advantages seem to be: you DON'T HAVE TO KILL TREES, you don't have to support clearcutting, even for tree 'farms, bamboo is hard and longlasting and easy to care for. (if you get it urethaned, as we did, you care for it just like a urethaned hard wood. You can get a water-based urethane, too.) AND it's very pretty.

The only disadvantages: They don't tell you how BRITTLE bamboo seems to be. One sharp item falling on it and a big nick can result. Perhaps it's 'hardness' also makes it more brittle. Also, we got pre-treated (urethane) planks and then had them do another coat once the floor was installed. The two different urethanes did not quite take to each other, and we have a moderate problem with surface scratches in the urethane. To their credit, Tulip has offered to re-urethane the floors anytime within a five year span from installation.

Hope that helps. -Melissa ,