Laminate vs. Bamboo Flooring

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Many people love the look of bamboo flooring but are put off by the price. Laminate flooring, which is manufactured to look like natural products such as hardwood, stone, tile and even bamboo, makes it possible to have the look you want without the cost. The two floorings, however, are quite different, and a number of issues must be considered before deciding which is best for your home.

Flooring Properties

  • Bamboo floors are made from the stalks of bamboo plants. Bamboo is a grass and not a tree, and therefore considered renewable, making it a popular choice for people concerned about the environment. The stalks, which are hollow, are cut into strips and glued together in a variety of ways, which gives bamboo flooring several different looks.

    Laminate floors are made by gluing together several layers of fiberboard, melamine and high quality photographs of the type of product the floor will look like. The photos are applied to the fiberboard and appliquéd into place with a protective plastic coat.

Cost

  • According to Service Magic's review of flooring costs in 2010, the price of bamboo will be three to four times more than laminate. Bamboo is almost always installed by professional installers, who also must seal it. Laminate flooring is fairly easy to install, and is often installed by the homeowner.

Durability

  • Bamboo is hard, and its production results in a product that is extremely difficult to puncture or dent. It is, however, not very resistant to being scratched. For that reason, it is suggested that furniture not be dragged across it, and in areas (such as under a dining table) where chairs would be pulled across the floor, an area rug should be used. It is also easily faded by strong sunlight, so curtains or other covers over windows are recommended to filter the light.

    Laminate flooring is resistant to scratches, and is often used in high traffic areas. It is also fade resistant. Although it is difficult to puncture or dent, it is not as hard as bamboo, meaning that high heeled shoes, for example, are more of a danger to laminate floors than to bamboo, but they are not recommended for either.

    If badly damaged, bamboo can be repaired because it is a solid material. If the top appliquéd portion of a laminate floor is damaged, it cannot be repaired, but must be removed.

Maintenance

  • The biggest problem in maintaining the floors is water damage. Bamboo is sealed against water damage, but despite that, water easily damages the floor. Laminate floors are not sealed, and water can do significant damage to them. Laminate floors are not recommended for kitchens or bathrooms for that reason.

    Neither floor should be damp mopped. They should regularly be swept, dry mopped or vacuumed without beater brushes being used.

Floor Patterns

  • Bamboo's patterns depend on whether the stalks are lined up on their sides before being glued together, giving them a striped look, or if they are laid flat with the "knuckles" that is a characteristic of bamboo showing. Also, some bamboo is boiled, which gives it a darker color.

    Laminate flooring comes in a wide selection of colors and patterns. The selection varies from one manufacturer to another, so check several companies to find the look that most appeals to you.

References

  • Photo Credit bamboo image by fotografiche.eu from Fotolia.com
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