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Bamboo And Hardwood Flooring - A Comparison

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Bamboo and hardwood flooring may have a similar look and feel and share many characteristics, but they are totally different.  Here's a comparison to help you make the right choice for your home.

Hardness ratio

Bamboo, in its paler-coloured, natural state, scores a hardness rating of 1,300 - 1,400.  Carbonised, heat-treated bamboo is softer at 1,000 – 1,400 and much darker in shade. 

Woods like pine and fir have hardness ratings of just 600 – 900, whereas on the upper end of the scale, materials like Brazilian teak and red walnut, can rate as high as 2,500 to 3,500.

Therefore, if you're looking for hard, durable flooring, a hardwood from the upper range is what you need.  If you are unsure of the best option for your specific needs, always ask your supplier for advice.


Hardwood offers plenty of choice when it comes to appearance.  Each species of tree has a unique look, feel and pattern, and this is further compounded by different cuts and grades, which produce varying levels of grain.

There are a number of different species of bamboo, but they all produce a consistent-looking end product.  Although the colour can vary from a soft, golden shade to darker tones, all bamboo features distinctive horizontal lines running along its surface.  Bamboo planks often have inconsistencies in colour from batch to batch, and whilst some people like the natural variation, this might not be to your taste.

Whether you opt for bamboo or hardwood will depend on the look and style you want to achieve.  A good tip is to take along samples of fabrics or wall-coverings when you go to choose flooring to give you an idea of what will coordinate best. 


Bamboo is pretty consistent in price and varies from around $2 to $5 per square foot.

Hardwood varies tremendously in price.  Exotic hardwoods can cost over $10 per square foot, whereas softwoods range from $3 per square foot.

With both options, remember that you should always expect to pay more for a good quality product.

Environmental concerns

Unlike hardwood, bamboo grows very rapidly.  Furthermore, the roots are not damaged during harvesting, so a fresh crop regrows without the need for replanting. Bamboo reaches maturity in as little as three years.  Bamboo is natural, biodegradable and can also be recycled. That said, there are a few environmental drawbacks in that transportation from South Asia where it grows and complex manufacturing processes can mean quite high CO2 emissions as a consequent environmental impact.

In comparison, a hardwood tree can take over 20 years to reach full maturity, so the raw materials for flooring take much longer to regenerate. There is also much more wood wasted in the manufacturing process; although, it is simpler to process than bamboo. Trees offer a lot more raw material and can be more readily grown in a wider variety of regions than bamboo, enabling wood to be sourced locally in many cases.

Environmentally, it is pretty much a case of 'swings and roundabouts'.

Moisture resistance

Bamboo is a good choice of flooring for areas where it may be exposed to moisture because it does offer a built-in resistance to water damage and naturally repels mould and mildew.

Water is the Achilles' heel of the wooden floor.  Although sealing the flooring will make it resistant to penetration by liquid, if water is allowed to lie on it for any length of time, damage will still result.  Moisture seeping up from beneath the floor will also cause mildew and mould to grow, and over time the floor will rot. 

Hardwood flooring is therefore not suitable for bathrooms, kitchens or areas beneath windows where rainwater could enter.

Quality control issues

Hardwood materials are rated by various independent organisations for shape, size, moisture content, colour, etc.  This makes it easier for you to establish the relative quality of any wood flooring you purchase.

Bamboo is not rated in any official way.  Consequently, you never know what you are going to get when you buy these materials, so it's best to always use a reputable firm or dealer.

In conclusion

There are positives and negatives for both bamboo and hardwood flooring, but both can make a stylish and practical enhancement to your home if used in the right place and bought from a reputable company.

For more information, contact a business such as Harmony Timber Floors P/L.