Laminate vs Bamboo Flooring

Laminate vs Bamboo Flooring

When it comes to bare flooring, which is superior when comparing laminate vs. bamboo? Hardwood flooring is classic, elegant, and beautiful, but newer options on the market are making their impact. Laminate and bamboo are two types of flooring that are really making their mark with consumers.

Each type of flooring offers a beautiful aesthetic perfect for any home. Beyond physical beauty, though, what do each of these flooring types have to offer? Which offer benefits not found with hardwoods, what are the drawbacks, and most importantly, how do they fare when compared to each other?

Laminate and bamboo flooring look similar, but there are important differences between the two. We’ll cover the pros, cons, the good, the bad, and the ugly within this guide to help anyone considering new flooring make the wisest, most financially sound purchase decision.

Side-by-Side Comparison

 Laminate Bamboo
DurabilityExtremely durable. Resistant to scratches, dents, and other damage.Similar to hardwoods. Can be scratched and damaged.
WaterproofNoNo
CleaningUse a dry mop or cloth with a cleaning product made for laminate. Acetone for heavy stains. Use a dry mop or cloth with a cleaning product made for bamboo flooring.
MaintenanceLittle to no maintenance required. Scratches can be handled with a light buffing with a polishing pad. Wood fillers may be required for more extensive damage.
Pet-FriendlyYesNo
StylesLaminate is made to look like a variety of wood species in many different colors. Three different types available in a variety of colors.
InstallationFloating floorFloating floor, glue-down, nail-down
Lifespan10-25 years on average30+ years
Good for Allergy Sufferers YesYes
RefinishingNoYes, for some brands
Flooring GuideLaminate Flooring GuideBamboo Flooring Guide

Installation

As any homeowner that has ever taken on a household project knows, installation costs can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to renovation costs. Budget-minded homeowners often tackle the tasks themselves in order to save money, but when it comes to laminate and bamboo flooring, is the hard work worth the savings?

Laminate flooring has emerged in recent years as an affordable alternative to hardwood, but how does it stack up when it comes to installation? Budget-conscious consumers will be happy to know that with a little know-how, laminate flooring is an easy-to-tackle DIY project.

People install most laminate flooring as a “floating floor.” Each piece features a tongue-and-groove design that allows each plank to click together in place. When you install it correctly, you will not need nails or adhesive to keep the flooring down.

You click the planks together. You can also trim each piece as you need to, using a basic table saw.

The only other consideration to remember when installing laminate is to leave space using wooden spacers in the first row, which creates a gap that the floor will need for expansion. Failing to take this step will result in buckling of the floor.

While it may sound a little complicated, most consumers can tackle this project over just a few hours. A whole house of laminate may take several days, but the process is quite easy, and there are many tutorials available online walking through the process. Homeowners with a little time on their hands can easily save money by installing laminate themselves without hiring a contractor.

With bamboo, there are several ways to install the flooring. Some brands feature a tongue-and-groove design that is similar to laminate flooring. Some bamboo flooring can be nailed to a wood subfloor, while other types can be glued down.

More prep work may be required for the installation of bamboo floors. This includes checking the moisture level of subfloors, leveling out subfloors, and performing other tasks before installation can even begin.

Once started, the difficulty of installation varies based on the product selected. Floating flooring, similar to laminate, is the easiest to install, while nail-down flooring requires more materials and labor. Often, consumers choose to hire a professional installer for their bamboo floors, which costs about $3 to $5 per square foot.

Though bamboo flooring has a floating floor installation option that’s fairly easy for consumers to take on themselves, other types of installation and more prep work makes bamboo more difficult to install. That is why this round goes to laminate flooring.

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Durability

One of the drawbacks to hardwood flooring is that it is easy to damage it. Do laminate and bamboo hold up better under pressure?

Laminate flooring is much more resistant to scratching, so it can withstand pet claws, kids running and dragging their toys, and heavy traffic. It’s generally resistant to all wear and tear and will not require refinishing, repairs, or waxing like hardwood flooring. Laminate flooring also generally will not fade, so you will not have to cover or shade it from sunlight.

A common misconception about laminate is that it is waterproof. This is (most-often) not true, although some brands are water-resistant. This means that the flooring won’t buckle, warp, or become damaged in other ways like with hardwoods, but water and spills should be wiped up immediately.

Bamboo flooring has many similar properties to hardwood. One of the drawbacks is that it can get scratched, dented, and damaged. This can occur from pets, children, or even particles of sand.

Bamboo flooring is not waterproof, but it is slightly more water-resistant than hardwoods. However, water and spills should always be mopped up immediately, and it should never be installed in rooms where moisture accumulates. Otherwise, warping, buckling, and even mold growth may occur.

Because it is so resistant to damage, laminate is the superior choice when it comes to durability. Its resistance to scratches and damage makes it an ideal choice for homes with pets, children, or lots of traffic.

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Care & Maintenance

Daily care and long-term maintenance of flooring is important to many consumers. After all, the busy working moms and dads may not have hours each week to devote to keeping their floors looking their best. Between laminate and bamboo flooring, which is the easiest to care for and maintain?

You can do daily laminate cleaning with a soft broom or dust mop. You can also use a vacuum meant for use on bare floors to clean up dirt, dust, and debris. People can also use a cleaner or vacuum meant for use on laminate flooring when you need to do heavier cleaning.

Never use a wet mop to clean a laminate floor, as this can lead to damage. Instead, spray a laminate product sprayed and use that with a dry mop. That can restore shine and clean up dirtier messes. You can lightly apply acetone or nail polish with a cloth to remove stains like marker, oil, or paint.

People do not need to sand, refinish, or wax laminate flooring like they need to with hardwood flooring. Just by cleaning the product as directed and avoiding moisture, laminate floors don’t require very much maintenance over the years.

For daily bamboo floor cleaning, you should use a broom, dust mop, or hardwood vacuum. For heavier cleaning, never use a wet mop, as this can damage the floors. Instead, use a product meant for bamboo flooring with a dry mop or cloth.

You can repair bamboo floors that are damaged by lightly buffing the area with a polishing pad. While this may not completely eliminate the scratch, it can reduce the appearance of it. You can repair more extensive damage to flooring by using wood fill products.

Depending on the flooring product you select, you can refinish some bamboo floors. It’s important to read all manufacturer’s instructions and specifications. Some products may be damaged when refinished, while refinishing others may void the flooring’s warranty.

While both laminate and bamboo are fairly easy to care for, laminate once again is the winner. Laminate is relatively maintenance-free and keeping it looking its best on a daily basis is extremely simple.

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Styles & Colors

Every home is different, so shouldn’t its flooring be unique as well? When considering whether to install laminate or bamboo flooring, style and color selection is often an important factor my consumers.

Laminate flooring is a type of simulated wood that features a photographic layer on top. They designed this layer to look like a variety of different wood species. Modern 3-D printing processes make laminate look and feel more like real wood than ever.

No matter what type of style a consumer is looking for, they’ll probably find it with laminate. From rustic to modern and everything in between, there’s a style for everyone. Laminate is available that looks like wood species including but not limited to oak, pine, and even exotic hardwoods in a variety of colors including lighter shades like whitewashed and gray to darker shades like ebony.

There are three main types of bamboo flooring: vertical bamboo, horizontal bamboo, and strand woven bamboo. This is used to describe how the strands of bamboo grass are arranged to give the flooring different looks.

Bamboo is naturally light. However, this flooring is carbonized by many manufacturers to make it darker, so it is available in a variety of shades.

However, when compared to laminate, there are not as many choices. While bamboo comes in many different colors, laminate is designed to look like different species of woods, providing consumers with more flooring choices.

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Pricing

A big factor for many consumers when shopping for flooring is price. After all, most consumers set a budget for their project, and they want to stick to it. When it comes to laminate versus bamboo, which is the more budget-friendly flooring option?

Laminate is one of the most affordable types of flooring. On average, laminate flooring costs between $2 and $4 per square foot. Additional expenses include underlayment and molding and trim pieces where needed.

The price to install laminate usually runs about $2 to $8 per square foot. Installation typically includes underlayment and any adhesive needed for the project, but it does not cover the cost of the flooring.

Bamboo flooring is an affordable option when compared to flooring like hardwood, but it is slightly more expensive than laminate. The average price for bamboo flooring is about $5 to $7 per square foot. Underlayment and trim pieces will also be needed, while adhesives or nails may add in additional costs.

For installation, the average costs are around $6 to $9 per square foot. This expense typically covers installation, as well as materials like adhesives and underlayment. Flooring is not included in this price.

Although both types of flooring are affordable, laminate is the more budget-friendly option. In addition to being cheaper for materials, the cost of installation is also cheaper for consumers who don’t want to tackle the project themselves.

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Longevity

While it’s always fun and exciting to change up a home’s interior, big projects like new flooring take too much time and expense to change often. Most consumers want to pick a flooring that they love and stick with it for many years. After installing laminate and bamboo flooring, which will better withstand the test of time?

Even though laminate is one of the most affordable types of flooring, don’t let it fool you. Laminate is also growing more popular because of its long lifespan.

Consumers should expect their laminate to last at least 10 years. However, some laminate flooring can also last as long as 30 years. The longevity depends upon the brand you select, whether or not you installed it correctly, and the level of wear and tear it has throughout the years.

Bamboo flooring can easily last for 20 years or longer when you maintain it properly. It is as durable as hardwoods, and in many cases, it can last 30 years or more. You can also refinish some brands over time, adding more life to this flooring.

When put head-to-head, both laminate and bamboo flooring can easily last for many years. However, bamboo flooring will typically last for years longer than laminate.

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Final Verdict

Both laminate and bamboo flooring offer the classic elegance of hardwood at a more affordable cost. However, for flooring that’s easy to maintain, budget-friendly, easy to install, durable, and available in a variety of colors, laminate is the right choice. This flooring is great for homes with children and pets and will retain its beauty for many years with very little maintenance.

Bamboo flooring is more susceptible to damage and more expensive, but it can easily last for decades and can even be refinished as needed. Bamboo flooring is another great choice for consumers who are looking for unique flooring with beauty that is truly unmatched.

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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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