Bamboo has been harvested and used as bamboo flooring for centuries in many parts of Asia.
It has always been plentiful, growing wild in many parts of Asia.
It is easy to procure and regrows again very quickly to be reharvested for future use.
In villages, it was used particularly in raised houses, which were supported by stilts, to increase the flow of air and create a form of cooling in the hot, humid climate.
This traditional type of bamboo flooring was cut by hand by the villagers themselves, shaped to be as flat as possible and laid on beams of timber or larger pieces of bamboo.
Modern bamboo flooring that is available for use in Western houses has been processed and manufactured into a different types of flooring materials. The bamboo is first split with a special tool, then it is flattened and allowed to dry.
This part of the process is often carried out by the local inhabitants of the areas of Asia where bamboo grows wild, as a type of cottage industry.
The bamboo is then transported to a factory where it is laminated under high heat and pressure, into planks that can then be laid similar to a traditional floor.
The bamboo flooring may be laid and laminated with the stems either vertical or horizontal, to give a different look and finish.
Vertical stems will produce an even and uniformly lined plank, whereas the horizontal placement of stems allows the bamboo nodes to be visible at varying intervals in the completed floor.
The finished planks are often grooved on the edges so that they just slot together, making them very easy to lay. Most home handy persons would be able to lay this type of bamboo flooring.
Bamboo flooring comes in two main colors – the natural is similar in color to beech, and the darker carbonized bamboo color can be likened to oak.
Although bamboo flooring is usually referred to as solid bamboo, it is actually similar in structure to plywood.
Manufacturers of bamboo flooring usually claim it is durable and resisitant to moisture and insect damage, but some research has shown it to be quite similar to many of the timbers that are traditionally used for floors.
The other aspect of bamboo flooring, that is used to promote it over other types of flooring materials, is that it is eco-friendly. The theory behind this claim is that it is a highly renewable resource that grows naturally and regrows in only three years after having been harvested.
While this is certainly true, there is growing evidence that deforestation is being used to provide extra ground on which to grow the valuable bamboo, and chemical pesticides and herbicides are now being used to increase the harvest.
Also, formaldehyde, a carcinogenic chemical, is used in the glue that binds the laminating process, in some bamboo products, so bamboo flooring may not be as eco friendly as claimed.
Bamboo flooring has increased in popularity in recent years because of its attractive look, so suitable for modern home decoration. If you are going to use bamboo in your home, try to source certified products that do not adversely affect the environment or the people who are harvesting the plants in their native countries.