Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Asheville NC Builder has Mixed Emotions on Bamboo Flooring

The environmental benefits are great, but the flooring itself is awful. We have had mixed experiences with it ourselves and decided to look more closely. Before we look at the environmental issues, let's look at its utility- is it all it is cracked up to be? One of the major benefits touted by vendors is how hard and tough it is, well it is Not. The popular carbonized darker bamboos are comparable to Black Walnut, considered a soft hardwood, and the lighter natural colors test comparable to maple. (Color is achieved not by staining but by heating, and the longer it heats the softer it gets)

It is like any wood floor- it is damaged by dents, scratches and the killer of all wood floors, high heels. Jazzy aluminum oxide finish or not, it is a natural material that should not be marketed as being harder or more durable than conventional wood flooring.

Bamboo flooring can be green. There is no question that bamboo is a renewable resource, it is a grass and grows very quickly. Where oak takes 120 years to grow to maturity, bamboo can be harvested in three. It is recognized as a green material under LEED and as they said in Environmental Building News, Environmentally, it is hard to argue with a wood substitute that matures in three years, regenerates without need for replanting, and requires minimal fertilization or pesticides.

However it is clear that bamboo is not necessarily being managed in a sustainable fashion. It is true that it naturally regenerates, but forests are being cleared to grow it and it is becoming a monoculture. Although it is claimed that fertilizers are not necessary, in fact they are being used to increase yield. Recently, bamboo expansion has come at the expense of natural forests, shrubs, and low-yield mixed plantations . . . It is common practice to cut down existing trees and replace them with bamboo. Advantage Development Co. located in Asheville, N.C. believes in green technology, but neither encourages or discourages the use of bamboo flooring in new home construction. Visit Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ or call us at 828-215-9064, you will be glad you did.

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