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Bamboo and Cork Flooring
 
Rapidly Renewable and Environmentally Flooring Materials
 
 
What is Bamboo?

Bamboo is a perennial evergreen plant that belongs to the true grass family Poaceae. It grows in diverse climates – from cold mountains to hot, tropical regions – and reaches heights of 125 feet or more. Bamboo is considered as the fastest growing woody plant, reaching full maturity in five to six years. Through the years, bamboo has found many uses; from food preparation to construction, its thin and flimsy appearance belies its true value.

Vertical Bamboo

A vertical pattern is made from bamboo strips that had been laid on edge, with the wider faces of the strips bonded to each other. This gives the floor more lines within the pattern, as well as a very consistent and even coloring. Bamboo floors with vertical orientation are ideal for smaller spaces, making them feel more open and roomy.

Horizontal Bamboo

The horizontal pattern in bamboo flooring is made from wider strips laid on top of each other to give it its overall thickness. It is typically three-plies thick on a 5/8" floor. Horizontal bamboo floors feature more of the unique properties of the bamboo grass, with more visible nodes (the characteristic joint in the bamboo cane). While some sources say that there is no advantage in choosing one orientation over the other, others believe that horizontal bamboo is actually harder.

Blonde and Carbonized Bamboo

There are two main colors of bamboo flooring to choose from. First is the natural blonde hue, which reflects bamboo’s true color along with its beautiful grain, growth patterns and joints. The second is a darker, amber tone that is achieved through smoking process. When bamboo is smoked, the carbonized grains take on a darker, caramel or amber tone all throughout.

Bamboo Characteristics

As a flooring product, the benefits of bamboo are unbelievable. Given its hardness, durability, beauty, and environmental friendliness, bamboo is a simple, sensible alternative in a complicated world.

Strength and Durability

When you think about a thin bamboo cane, it might seem almost flimsy. But in comparison to Red Oak, the most commonly installed wood flooring, it is actually 25% harder and just as strong. Bamboo is even harder than Rock Maple, making it an incredibly durable, impact-resistant form of flooring. Better still, it expands and contracts 50% less than other hardwoods. As a result, bamboo can be used in homes and in climates where high humidity or temperature variations make hardwoods impractical.

Available Options

iFLOOR.com offers more brands and more selection than anyone online or off line. Available as a high quality, tongue-and-groove, precision-milled board, we also offer bamboo floorings with vertical-grained and horizontal(face)-grained orientation.

In the vertical grain, the individual nodes are hard to discern, resulting to a consistent coloration and even grain.

In the horizontal-grain orientation, each individual node (the characteristic joint in the bamboo cane) is visible with about four node strands apparent per piece.

Though these two options differ in appearance and offer customers more visual choices, they offer the same strength characteristics.

Colors

There are two main colors of bamboo flooring to choose from. First is its natural blonde hue, which reflects bamboo’s true color, along with its beautiful grain, growth patterns and joints. Bamboo is also available in a darker, amber tone that is achieved through smoking process. When bamboo is smoked, the carbonized grains take on a darker, caramel or amber tone all throughout.

Environmentally Speaking

Bamboo is probably the most environmentally sensible flooring available, offering a dependable alternative to hardwood. Bamboo is technically a grass, and it can be harvested in about five years. Recognized as the fastest-growing plant on earth, bamboo offers 25 times the yield of hardwood, and is much more sustainable and renewable.

It can be harvested and replenished with virtually no impact to the environment. Harvesting does not kill the plant because it constantly regenerates itself by sending out runners that result in new canes. Bamboo can be grown in soil damaged by overgrazing and poor agricultural techniques, and topsoil is not damaged when the cane is harvested. Not only does the topsoil stay in place, the plant’s dense leaf cover actually improves the soil over time.

While protecting the environment and reducing the demand for over-harvested hardwoods, bamboo offers a strong, durable, beautiful flooring that can accentuate any home or business.

Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is an environmentally friendly choice that is also durable, comfortable and beautiful.

The cork tree is the only one whose bark can regenerate itself after harvest without damaging the tree or the environment. A variety of the oak, cork trees re-grow their bark quickly enough to be harvested every six years. The tree is never killed or cut down and can produce bark for centuries. Very few, if any, of the harvested materials go to waste.

Used for centuries, cork's beauty, durability and additional benefits make it an ideal flooring choice for residential and commercial applications.

Besides beautiful surface flooring, cork underlayment is also available for use under laminate and hardwood floating floors to reduce sound transfer. At iFLOOR.com, we recommend cork underlayment over any other kind of noise-reduction product on the market today.

Durability and Resilience

You might think that because cork is elastic and can be compressed, it couldn't be considered a durable flooring choice. However, it is considered as resilient flooring with the ability to give generations of beautiful reliable service to your home. In fact, there are still many "past century" estates in Europe with cork flooring in active use. Cork flooring, like wood flooring, is capable of many, many years of service when properly maintained.

Cork is also a non-slip surface that's highly resistant to liquid penetration. These qualities make it an option for kitchen or bathroom floors, as well as high profile dining and living rooms. If cork snap flooring is installed in a kitchen or bath, the seams should be sealed.

Health Benefits

Cork is more than an environmentally sound option. It's a healthy choice for families too, especially those with members who suffer from allergies or asthma. Cork is not only naturally hypoallergenic (resists the growth of mold and mildew), it is also antistatic (won't attract and hold dust and pollen particles). Essential to people with respiratory problems, a cork floor is easy to maintain and does not emit toxic or shed fiber of any kind.

Insulating Properties

Because it has such outstanding insulating properties, cork can help pay for itself by reducing heating and cooling costs. Not only is it warm to the touch, even without underfloor heating, cork flooring has low thermal conductivity which insulates against heat and cold. These properties make it ideal over cold, cement subflooring.

Long recognized in the building industry as a highly effective sound-control and crack-suppression underlayment under hard surface floors, cork surface flooring can do the same in a home. Because it absorbs vibration, cork dramatically dampens sound in a room and reduces sound transfer between floors in a home or business.

Application

Cork can be applied over any subflooring, and it can be applied over nearly any existing flooring except carpet. This fact is especially useful when it comes to covering old, asbestos-based flooring. While effectively covering up the old flooring, the cork installation eliminates the need for costly removal of the old floor and the associated health risks.

 

 

Copyright 2012 Ronald Sauve All Rights Reserved

This page was last modified on April 06, 2012

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