Hardwood vs Bamboo Flooring

Hardwood vs Bamboo Flooring

When it comes to bare flooring, which stands out above the rest when comparing hardwood vs. bamboo? For decades, hardwood flooring has been the gold standard in hard flooring. Hardwoods are classic, timeless, and have beauty that has been unsurpassed… until now.

New types of flooring are becoming a hit with homeowners that are seeking alternatives to traditional hardwoods. One of those types is bamboo. Bamboo flooring looks similar to hardwood flooring, but how does it stack up?

We’ll compare the benefits and drawbacks of traditional hardwoods and bamboo flooring. We’ll explore six features to see which flooring comes out on top… and which falls flat. Before you invest your money in new flooring, read on to find out which flooring is best for your home.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

Side-by-Side Comparison

 HardwoodBamboo
DurabilityHarder woods should be selected for the best durability. May be prone to scratches and dents. More durable than most species of wood
WaterproofNo. Will warp, stain, and is prone to mold and mildew growth when exposed to moisture. No, but slightly more water-resistant than hardwoods. Naturally resistant to mold and mildew growth.
CleaningDaily cleaning with dust mop, broom, or bare floor vacuum. Can be cleaned with hardwood-specific products. No wet mops. Can be waxed to restore shine. Daily cleaning with dusto mop, broom, or bare floor vacuum. Can be cleaned with bamboo-specific products. No wet mops. Should not be waxed.
RefinishingCan be refinishedCan be refinished but care should be taken when sanding
Pet-FriendlyYes, but softer woods can easily be scratched.Yes
PriceSome species may cost upwards of $10 per square footBetween $5 and $7 per square foot
InstallationNail-downNail-down, glue-down, floating floor
LifespanOver 100 years Between 20 and 25 years on average
Good for Allergy Sufferers YesYes
Professional Installation CostsBetween $5 and $8 per square footBetween $4 and $7 per square foot
Flooring GuideHardwood Flooring GuideBamboo Flooring Guide

Durability

When it comes to buying new flooring, one of the most important things to consider is the flooring’s durability. After all, no one wants to spend thousands of dollars on a product that will need to be replaced in just a few years.

Before shopping for flooring, consider your own home. Do you have a lot of traffic coming in and out, or do you have children or pets? If so, you want to choose products that aren’t susceptible to scratches or damage just from everyday living.

Traditional hardwood flooring is durable. With proper care, it can easily last for decades. However, some types of wood are more apt to dent, scratch, or become damaged over time.

How durable a hardwood floor is depends upon the type of wood species selected, as some woods are softer (and thus more prone to damage) than others. To determine the durability of a particular species, consumers can use the Janka hardness scale.

The Janka hardness scale measures many different species of woods to determine how hard (and durable) they are. On this scale, species including Brazilian walnut, ebony, and Brazilian cherry are among the hardest and most durable, while species such as chestnut, white pine, and sycamore rank lower on the scale, so they are softer and more likely to sustain damage.

Consumers with pets or kids will want to purchase a harder species of wood. Failing to do so will result in scratches from pet claws, dents from furniture, and other damage that mars the beauty of the flooring.

Bamboo flooring, on the other hand, is very durable. It is harder than most traditional hardwoods, and it is quickly becoming a favorite among consumers who have children or pets in the home.

It is important to note, however, that some types of bamboo flooring may not be as hard and may be more easily damaged. This holds particularly true for darker flooring, which goes through a carbonization process that darkens the color but weakens the flooring. Because of this, households that fear damaged flooring may want to steer away from darker-colored floors and stick with lighter colors.

Even though traditional hardwoods can be very durable, the natural hardness rating of bamboo exceeds most species, making it the most durable flooring of the two types.

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Lifespan

Let’s face it: flooring is expensive and installing new flooring is a big project that can turn any home upside down for days or even weeks. This is why many consumers take the time to pick a flooring that they can enjoy for a lifetime. When it comes to hardwood and bamboo flooring, which better stands up to the test of time?

There are a few general considerations that you should take into account that could affect the lifespan of flooring. The type of wood, the thickness of the flooring, and how well it is cared for and maintained all play a role in how long flooring will last.

A high-quality hardwood flooring that is thick and is selected from a species with a high hardness rating will easily last for 100 years or longer with proper care. Though the floor may have to be refinished through the years, refinishing costs significantly less than installing new flooring.

Bamboo flooring can last 50 years or longer if very high-quality flooring is selected and it is properly maintained through the years. However, most bamboo flooring has a lifespan of 20 to 25 years in the average family’s household.

Although the lifespan varies based on the quality of the flooring selected and how well it is maintained, solid hardwood flooring generally has the longest lifespan and can maintain its beauty for a full century or even longer with proper care.

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Water-Resistance

The water resistance of flooring is important for many households. After all, spills happen, not to mention that how you should clean a floor depends on whether or not it is resistant to water.

Hardwood flooring is not resistant to water. If you do not clean spills up immediately or use a wet mop to clean it, it can warp or stain. When this occurs, you will need to refinish or completely replace the flooring.

Not only will warping or staining occur, but if there is moisture underneath, mold and mildew can develop. Not only is this unhealthy, but it can also cause the wood to rot.

Bamboo flooring is not completely water-resistant, but it is slightly more resistant to moisture than traditional solid wood. You will need to wipe up spills promptly and can’t use wet mops for cleaning them. However, bamboo flooring repels mold and mildew, making this less of a worry for anyone considering the installation of bare flooring.

Even though neither type of flooring is completely resistant to moisture, bamboo does have the advantage. It is slightly more resistant to water, and its ability to repel mold and mildew gives it the edge in this category.

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Care & Maintenance

To keep bare floors looking their best, you will need a regular cleaning routine. Your cleaning method will depend on the type of flooring you select.

You can do everyday cleaning of hardwood floors using a dust mop, broom, or dry microfiber mop. You can use hardwood vacuum cleaner to pick up daily dirt, dust, and debris. However, it must be a vacuum specifically for use on bare floors or you will scratch and damage the hardwood.

For a deeper clean, you can spray a product especially for use on hardwood flooring on one small section at a time. Promptly wipe the cleaner with a dry cloth or dry microfiber mop. Never use a wet mop or large amounts of cleaner.

Over time, hardwood floors may lose their luster. When this occurs, you can wax the floors to bring back their shine. For more extensive damage, you can sand and refinish the floors.

You can use a broom, dust mop, or vacuum for bare floors to pick up dirt, dust, and debris for daily cleaning of bamboo flooring. For heavier cleaning, you can use a product especially for bamboo flooring. You should clean floors a small section at a time using a dry microfiber mop or cloth.

Like hardwoods, bamboo flooring should never get wet. Clean up spills promptly and never use a wet mop. Never saturate the floor with any cleaning product. It is important to use products especially for use on bamboo floors.

Don’t use waxes or wax-based cleaners on bamboo flooring. If the floors become damaged over time, they can be sanded and refinished. However, it can be more difficult to sand these floors since you should never sand the floors below the finish layer.

Care and maintenance of hardwood flooring and bamboo floors are very similar. However, because refinishing bamboo flooring requires more expertise and can be more difficult, hardwood flooring takes this round.

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Installation

More consumers are going the do-it-yourself route when it comes to the installation of new flooring. Not only does this give them a sense of accomplishment, but it can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in professional installation costs.

Installers typically nail hardwood floors down. To install, they will need to measure, cut and nail nail down wood. While the process isn’t impossible for amateurs, planning, working slowly, and having a little know-how will go far in successfully installing floors.

You will need to use multiple tools during the installation process. This includes a hammer, a nail gun, a mallet, a crow bar, and one or more power saws (and you may need more tools beyond that).

There are several different ways to install bamboo flooring. This includes glue-down, nail-down, and installing as a floating floor.

A floating floor installation is the easiest way to install bamboo flooring. This type of flooring features a tongue-and-groove design that allows you to snap it together without the use of adhesives or nails.

Like solid hardwood, you will need to measure and cut bamboo planks during the installation process. You will need several tools for installation, including power saws, a mallet, and a tape measure.

Because there are so many ways to install bamboo flooring, it beats out solid hardwood flooring in terms of ease of installation.

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Pricing

For many consumers, one of the biggest factors when selecting flooring is price. When compared side-by-side, which is the more affordable flooring: solid hardwoods or bamboo?

Hardwood prices vary by the species, brand, and other factors. Softer woods like pine may be priced as low as $3 per square foot. However, for harder, exotic woods, consumers can expect to pay $10 or more per square foot.

For installation, contractors generally charge between $5 to $8 per square foot. This price varies on a number of factors, including location, the size of the job, and the difficulty of the installation.

Bamboo flooring is more affordably priced. On average, this type of flooring costs between $5 and $7 per square foot.

The labor costs for professional installation are also more inexpensive for bamboo flooring. On average, a consumer should expect to pay around $4 to $7 per square foot for installation.

Although pricing varies based on the type of flooring selected and the cost of installation, bamboo flooring is almost always the more cost-effective option when compared to solid hardwoods.

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Style & Color Selection

We can personalize our homes with the color of our paint, the style of our furniture, and yes, even our flooring. Between solid hardwood and bamboo, which has the bigger selection?

Hardwood flooring comes in a variety of different wood species, from common types like oak and pine to exotic hardwoods that are extremely rare, beautiful, and unique. There are a variety of colors to choose from as well, from rustic whitewashed to sleek and modern ebony.

When it was first introduced to the market, bamboo flooring came in only a handful of colors. Today, there are more options than ever, including gray, cherry, and natural.

Because there are so many different species of wood, however, solid hardwood has more of a selection of styles and colors. For some types of woods, you can also use a custom stain to create a truly unique floor unlike any other.

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Final Verdict

Hardwood flooring and bamboo flooring are both very durable types of hard flooring that can add beauty to any home. Consumers looking for a more affordable floor that’s easy to install, is more resistant to moisture damage, and can handle everyday wear and tear like a champ, bamboo flooring is the right choice for you.

However, if you want a floor that’s easier to refinish, comes in a variety of styles and colors, and can last for a century or more with proper care, hardwood flooring is the right choice for you.

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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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