Engineered Hardwood vs Bamboo Flooring

Engineered Hardwood vs Bamboo Flooring

It’s time to pick your new hard flooring and you’ve narrowed it down to two popular options: engineered hardwood vs. bamboo. Both look great and are growing in popularity among homeowners, but which one is right for YOUR home?

Picking your new flooring should go beyond just looking at samples and deciding which one you like the best. You need to consider other features such as durability, price, and installation – features which we’ll review in this guide.

We’ll compare engineered hardwood and bamboo flooring side-by-side across six different categories to help you determine which flooring is right for you. Whether you have pets and worry about damage to your floors or you’re looking for a floor that you can install yourself without hiring a contractor, these comparisons will help you make the right choice for your home.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

Side-by-Side Comparison

 Engineered HardwoodBamboo
DurabilityExtremely durable, but varies based on wood speciesVery durable, but can be damaged over time
SustainableSome engineered hardwood floors are sustainableYes
CleaningDaily cleaning with a dust mop, broom, or vacuum cleaner. Heavier cleaning with a damp mop or cloth and a product made for engineered hardwoods. Daily cleaning with a dust mop, broom, or vacuum cleaner. Heavier cleaning with a product made for bamboo flooring wiped off with a dry mop or cloth.
RefinishingYes, most flooringYes, some flooring
InstallationFloating, nail-down, glue-downFloating, nail-down, glue-down
Pet-FriendlyYes but nails should be kept trimmedYes but nails should be kept trimmed
Price$3 to $13 per square foot$5 to $7 per square foot
Installation Costs$3 to $10 per square foot$4 to $6 per square foot
LifespanUp to 100 yearsUp to 50 years
WaxingYesNo
Flooring GuideEngineered Hardwood Flooring GuideBamboo Flooring Guide

Durability

One of the most important features of flooring is its durability. Will it hold up to kids and pets, or will you have to repair – or worse, replace – it after a short period of time? If you live in a busy household, you don’t want to worry about damaging your floors just by living your life.

Engineered hardwood is different from solid hardwoods because it is created in layers. The top layer is always made of hardwood, so it’s prone to the same damages as traditional hardwood flooring.

With a softer type of wood like pine, you may have to worry about scratches, dents, and dings. This can occur from sliding furniture across the flooring or from pet claws or kids playing with toys.

However, if you choose a harder wood like hickory, you won’t have to worry so much about damage. Most exotic engineered hardwood floors rank highly on the Janka hardness scale, which measures the hardness and durability of wood. Select a wood from one of the high-ranking species, and your floors will be far more resistant to damage.

One advantage that engineered hardwood has over solid hardwoods is that this type of flooring is more resistant to moisture. The placement of the layers makes this type of flooring more stable than solid wood, so you can install it in below-grade rooms like basements. Although these floors should never get wet, a little bit of moisture exposure will not cause engineered hardwood to warp like solid hardwoods.

When engineered hardwood becomes too damaged, it can be sanded and refinished to restore its beauty.

Bamboo floors are also more resistant to damage than traditional hardwoods. However, they aren’t completely impervious to damage. Furniture legs, pet claws, kids, and even heavy traffic can lead to scratches, scuffs, and discoloration.

Bamboo is also slightly more resistant to water damage than traditional hardwoods. You can even install it in below-grade rooms. However, excessive exposure to moisture can lead to the growth of mold or warping of the floor.

One of the drawbacks of bamboo flooring is that you cannot refinish all of it. You will not be able to refinish cheaper flooring products with a thinner upper layer. Therefore, if you plan to refinish the floors in the future, make sure to select a high-quality flooring product that you will be able to refinish.

Although it’s a close race in this category, engineered hardwood is more durable. It is more resistant to water damage, its tough enough to hold up under daily household use. You can refinish it if you need to do so to prolong the life of the floor.

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Lifespan

Since we’re talking about the durability of flooring, it only makes sense to address the lifespan. In other words, how long should you expect your flooring to last before you need to replace it?

Engineered hardwood floors have an extremely long lifespan if you select a product with a thick upper layer. Flooring with a thinner upper layer will typically last around 20 years. However, investing in a thicker product will pay for itself over time, as this flooring can easily last for 100 years.

Of course, for your engineered hardwood floors to last this long, you’ll have to properly maintain them. Cleaning engineered hardwood correctly, making repairs as needed, and refinishing when needed will extend the life of your flooring.

Bamboo flooring is also durable, but it’s lifespan falls a little short. Most bamboo flooring will last for 20 to 25 years through normal wear and tear. However, higher quality bamboo flooring can last for 50 years or longer.

Like engineered hardwood, you can greatly extend the lifespan of hardwood flooring with regular care and maintenance. Purchasing a thicker flooring that can be refinished over time is also key to getting the most life out of your floors.

Even though both floors can easily last for many years, engineered hardwood is the superior choice in this category. With a lifespan of 100 years or longer, it is the only other flooring that is comparable to solid hardwood.

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Installation

Maybe you want to try your hand at installing your floors yourself. If you aren’t the DIY type, perhaps you have a budget, and you have to be careful in how much you spend on labor costs. When compared side-by-side, which is the easiest, most inexpensive flooring to install?

Engineered hardwood flooring is fairly easy to install if you have the right tools and take your time during the process. Prep work includes preparing the subfloor and installing a moisture barrier.

Engineered hardwood comes with a tongue-and-groove design, so the planks click together in place. However, other types of installations include nailing down the floors or using an adhesive to glue down the floors. The floating floor is the easiest to install for most homeowners.

You’ll need just a few basic tools for the installation of your floors, including a measuring tape, power saw, and rubber mallet.

If you don’t want to take on the task of installing the flooring yourself, you can always hire a professional contractor. For engineered hardwood flooring, expect to pay between $3 and $10 per square foot. Pricing varies based on your location, the type of installation required, and the overall difficulty of the job.

Installing bamboo flooring is very similar. You can opt to install tongue-and-groove flooring or Uniclic flooring with a floating installation. People can also nail down the floor or glue down the floor.

You will need the same basic tools for this installation process. Those include a power saw, nails (for nail-down installations), or adhesives if you’re gluing the floor down.

Even if you have no experience installing your own flooring, online tutorials can help you through the process. With the right tools, proper preparation, and taking the time to ensure the job is done correctly, anyone can tackle this job. Like engineered hardwoods, a floating floor installation is the easiest and most straightforward.

For professional installation, you can expect to pay between $4 and $6 per square foot. As with other flooring, companies determine the pricing based on the cost in your area, the difficulty of the job, and how they install the flooring.

Even though both of these flooring types are easy to install, bamboo flooring has the slight edge. This is because professional installation is cheaper, which could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on your flooring project if you opt to hire a contractor.

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Cleaning

Most of us live very busy lives, and we don’t have hours each week to devote to keeping our floors cleaned. Between engineered hardwoods and bamboo flooring, which is the easiest to clean?

You can clean engineered hardwood on a daily basis with a broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner. If you choose to use a vacuum cleaner, it must be specifically for use on bare floors to prevent scratching or otherwise damaging your wood.

You can use a slightly damp mop or cloth for deeper cleaning. However, you should always dry the floor with a dry cloth immediately after.

You can also spray on a product meant for cleaning engineered hardwoods a small section at a time, cleaning with a dry mop or cloth as you go. Always make sure that the product you use is specifically for use on engineered hardwood.

You can wax some engineered hardwood floors to restore shine, but always make sure to consult with manufacturer’s specifications before applying wax or a wax-based product.

Daily cleaning of bamboo flooring is similar to engineered flooring. Remove daily dirt, dust, and debris using a dust mop, broom, or vacuum cleaner specifically for hard floor use.

You can use a product especially for use on bamboo floors when you need to do a deeper cleaning. Apply this in small sections and promptly wipe it up with a dry mop or cloth. You should not use a wet mop on bamboo floors.

You cannot wax most bamboo floors. Always avoid waxes or waxed-based cleaner to prevent a buildup that will need to be stripped.

Again, this is another category where engineered hardwood flooring and bamboo are neck-and-neck. However, because you can wax engineered hardwood and use a damp mop as needed, it doesn’t have as many special considerations and is easier to clean.

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Price

You may love the look of a flooring and everything it has to offer, but one big thing can have a major impact on your final decision: the price. If you’re following a budget like most homeowners, price is a major deciding factor in your new flooring selection. Between engineered hardwood and bamboo, which is the most inexpensive flooring for budget-minded shoppers?

A thinner engineered hardwood flooring costs about $3 to $5 per square foot. Engineered hardwoods with a medium thickness may cost between $5 and $10 per square foot, while the highest quality flooring costs between $8 and $13 per square foot.

Even though it may be tempting to purchase the cheapest type of engineered hardwood, the wood veneer of these products is often very thin. This means that you won’t be able to refinish the floor, and it may have a lifespan of 20 years or less. You can refinish a higher quality but more expensive floor. It could last up to a century.

Bamboo flooring costs, on average, approximately $5 to $7 per square foot. While this is the less expensive option, it’s important to remember that it has a shorter lifespan. You will typically need to replace it sooner than engineered hardwood.

If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly option, bamboo flooring is the right choice for you.

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Sustainability

Many homeowners are looking for ways to make their homes more eco-friendly and green. This isn’t just some passing trend, as more of us are beginning to realize human impact on the environment. When it comes to sustainability, which is the better option: engineered hardwood or bamboo?

Some engineered hardwoods are sustainably harvested, which means that they are harvested from trees in a controlled environment that has very little impact on the environment surrounding it. However, you have to make sure that the product you are purchasing is sustainable, since there are many options that are not sustainably harvested.

Bamboo flooring is one of the most eco-friendly flooring options. Bamboo is classified as a grass, which grows faster than hardwood trees. It also regenerates after it is harvested.

Because bamboo flooring is very renewable and sustainable, it is considered the most eco-friendly option between the two.

Final Verdict

Engineered hardwood flooring and bamboo flooring are both great flooring options. These floors not only look great, but they can last through everyday life, even when your home is a little bit hectic. The type of flooring you select should be based on your own personal preferences.

If you’re looking for an extremely durable floor that’s easy to clean and maintain and can easily last through an entire century, engineered hardwoods are a great choice. Even though these may be a little more expensive initially, their unsurpassed durability makes them a wise investment for any homeowner.

However, if you’d rather have a floor that’s less expensive in terms of installation and material costs and is sustainable, bamboo could be the right flooring for your home. Even though it has some drawbacks, purchasing a high-quality product will enhance the beauty of your home without breaking the bank or significantly impacting the environment.

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Nikki Seppala

About Nikki Seppala

Nikki is an experienced writer and editor and has worked in industries that range from home improvement to entrepreneurship. For over 10 years, she's used her unique talent and love of the written word to uncover the stories that people want to read.

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