Considering a new floor? Bamboo flooring is an increasingly popular choice. Although bamboo has a number of attributes that make it a great flooring option, one of its most alluring qualities has been its perceived environmental benefits. In this post, we’ll explore the environmental impact of this flooring option. We’ll also look at another important consideration – where the flooring material is sourced. Believe it or not, the local movement applies to floors as well.
The University of Tennessee published the following:
Bamboo is a tree-like grass. There are thousands of species of bamboo that grow around the world, including some in the United States . Some species of bamboo can grow well on poor and unstable sites, which makes it useful crop alternative. Bamboo has the potential for rapid growth: shoots have been observed to grow over 3 feet in a single day. Stands of bamboo establish quickly and harvest can place in less than 10 years. Bamboo also will sprout readily from the cut stems, so regenerating stands is easy. Parts of the bamboo shoot are very hard, which makes [it] suitable for the surface of flooring products. Bamboo also has edible parts which can provide food for people or – famously – for wildlife such as panda bears.
It is the rapid growth and natural regeneration properties of bamboo that are primarily responsible for the “green” reputation for bamboo. However, many of the environmental benefits of bamboo are shared by wood. Natural regeneration is not limited to bamboo stands; it is a viable and widely used practice in tree forestry also. The longer rotation times for trees compared to bamboo can actually be considered to be an advantage for wood. Some tree species produce as much biomass per year as bamboo, but trees store this production for longer (in the living tree) so fewer harvesting resources (fuel, machinery, labor, etc.) are required for each ton of crop collected. Also, as with many short-rotation crops, applications of fertilizer and pesticides to bamboo may be required for optimal growth.
Finally, it’s easier to make flooring from trees than from bamboo. Bamboo stems are hollow, so bamboo flooring panels are made from layers of sliced bamboo that have been glued together. Hardwood flooring consists of solid pieces of wood that are [harvested] directly from trees, so less processing energy and fewer materials are required. Solid hardwood flooring also provides more material that can be sanded off in future refinishing steps; the hard surface layer of bamboo flooring is relatively thin and so it cannot be sanded and re-finished like solid wood.
That being said one should consider the source. Hardwood forests surround the University of Tennessee. They do have some self-interest in publishing such a piece. Still, the point is well made. Buying locally sourced product does greatly reduce environmental impact.
Whether it’s bamboo, reclaimed wood (antique or otherwise), or fresh cut hardwood. Buying local has a huge impact on lessening the carbon footprint associated with using natural flooring. Still, bamboo is an incredibly sustainable source. It’s growth rate, durability, and adaptability exceeds other natural wood sources. Most importantly bamboo has a green certification according to the LEED.
For the best choices in sustainable and environmentally responsible flooring, you can always trust the Floor Store at Thornebrook. We give you sound advice about your flooring needs, and we make you feel assured that your new floor is environmentally responsible.