Bamboo flooring is a natural material that has gained significance in the construction industries at present because it is relatively cost-effective, ecologically friendly and, if properly constructed, it is as durable as hardwood. However, is it 100% eco-friendly as it claimed to be?
Bamboo is advertised in markets as hard and durable flooring, therefore, a wise investment to your homes. But if you are to be smart enough, an important thing to consider is selecting the most suitable type of bamboo. Bamboos that are harvested at a proper time and did not go through the carbonization process are extremely durable. The carbonization process tends to soften the material and bamboos that went through this process can be easily identified as they have a darker color than the uncarbonized ones. Thus, this makes the carbonized bamboo not so superior to the conventional hardwood floorings. Similarly, it is prone to damage with stuff like furniture legs, pet claws and high heels just like any hardwood floors.
Bamboo floorings, on the other hand are not as eco-friendly as it claimed to be. Due to much-gained popularity as a flooring option that, according to many reports,forests are being cut down and cleared to grow more bamboos. Also, the growers, although not necessary, are reportedly fertilizing the bamboos so they can increase their harvests.
In Jim Boyer’s research, he claims that bamboos are not that “green” since it is already becoming a usual practice to get rid of existing trees in forests only to be replaced by bamboos. This mass removal of existing trees has resulted in increased risk of erosion in the mountains and hillsides, and the environment is also affected by the intensive, unnecessary use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides to grow bamboos.
Moreover, the Forest Stewardship Council gives certification to forest managers who have proved that they are implementing proper maintenance of forests and that their products provide significant benefits to the environment, society, and economy. Presently, there are no known FSC Certifications to Bamboo Forests except to Colombia Bamboo SLIMF.
Another concern with bamboo floorings is its formaldehyde binder content which is added by the manufacturers as an adhesive and which emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Not only this, the manufacturing process itself of this flooring material takes up a lot of energy and toxic chemicals.
However, not all bamboo floorings are potentially environmentally hazardous. One company called Teragren prides itself as a leading manufacturer of environmentally sensitive bamboo floors, integrating lower formaldehyde in their products. K&M is another company based in Canada manufacturing laminated bamboo which emits .00563 milligrams of VOCs per hour as certified by Vancouver-based Forintek Canada Corp. Bamboo Hardwoods, established in Vietnam by Doug Lewis ensures that the factory manufactures only environmentally and worker friendly bamboo products.
In conclusion, it is best to check the type of bamboo to be used and the supplier’s certification or credibility if you are insistent in installing bamboo flooring to your homes.