Bamboo, unlike other materials used to make flooring, is grass and is an excellent alternative to hardwood or other durable surface materials. Because grasses grow so quickly, bamboo flooring is considered to be an excellent choice for a renewable flooring product.
Naturally moisture-resistant, bamboo is ideal for coastal areas where damp weather can cause unwanted expansion and contraction. Bamboo is an extremely hard material, thus making it very durable for everyday living. Bamboo has a janka rating or density rating of 1,400 -5,000, depending on the particular bamboo product, compared to a standard hardwood like red oak, which is 1,260.
Bamboo is manufactured into several styles and is available as prefinished. The most common are laminated planks, with either horizontal or vertical grain orientations. Strand bamboo is made from shredded bamboo fibers that are glued together, resulting in an entirely different appearance and is a very durable surface. Engineered bamboo, like engineered hardwood, consists of a bamboo veneer applied over a core or substrate. The last option is a square edge, click locking style that is easily floated and has a great feel because of its density and weight. All of these options are available as carbonized, and this is a process by which bamboo is darkened with a heating process. Bamboo flooring ranges from 3 ½ to 7 inches in width and up to six feet in length.
I do have one source for unfinished square edge bamboo, and is available in vertical and horizontal grain, natural and carbonized. The product isn't easy to find and is the only option when trying to achieve a totally flat, clean look, void of distracting beveled edges.
The options available with bamboo are many. It used to be that bamboo was installed if you were going for the beachy, tropical look, but now any look can be achieved, from the most exotic to ultra-contemporary and bamboo flooring offers a unique style that can't be achieved with wood. Unfinished bamboo is my preference, as it allows me the freedom to create looks with color and protect it with a finish that is far superior to what is offered with a prefinished product.
Any bamboo product that we use is FSC-certified, and is approved by the FloorScore program. The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, non-profit organization of individuals who promote the responsible management of forests around the globe. The FloorScore® program, in conjunction with Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), rigorously tests and certifies flooring products for compliance with indoor air quality emission requirements adopted in California (the California Section 01350 program, which dictates the maximum emission concentrations for 78 different Volatile Organic Compounds). Certified products qualify for use in high performance schools and offices and are recognized as contributing to good indoor air quality in order to protect human health.