Porcelain Tile vs Bamboo Flooring

Porcelain Tile vs Bamboo Flooring

People usually don’t pit porcelain tile vs bamboo flooring against each other. Hardwood is a leading choice for wooden floors and has been in the industry for many years. However, people have realized over time that bamboo has almost the same features but at a lower cost.

Porcelain tile, on the other hand, has always been popular because it is easy to maintain, low in cost, and offers a variety of designs. Bamboo, in contrast, is only available in different shades of brown and is trickier to maintain. However, if you are getting the grandeur of wood at a much lower cost than porcelain, in an environmentally-friendly way, you will have a hard time choosing.

It’s a tough debate, no doubt, but we have set the following parameters to measure the differences between the two and figure out which is better:

Side-by-Side Comparison

 Porcelain TileBamboo Flooring
DurabilityCan last more than twenty years and withstand all weather conditions. Harder objects falling on the surface can damage it.The hard and solid nature makes it quite durable, and if maintained properly, can last up to 20 years
MaintenanceCan easily be maintained with any water based floor cleaners, and don't require regular polishingHave to be dry-mopped and maintained with only material-friendly products. Can't let water sit for too long
Shock AbsorbanceLack of air pockets in the structure don't allow for absorbanceCan keep items that fall on its surface from damaging because thiny air pockets in the structure that act as shock absorbers
Kids and Pet FriendlinessSlipperiness can be dangerous for kids and pets. The fact that material lacks shock absorbing capacity makes it unhelpful when kids knock valuables things off Are more restant to slipperiness, and also have shock absorbing capacity to keep the fragile items safe when they fall on the surface. Also more resilient to scratches or nail marks than hardwood
Eco-FriendlinessWhile sourcing of the material doesn't affect the environment much, the processing in high powered kilns leave a significant carbon impact in the atmosphereThe material is environment friendly but the adhesives used to join the flooring can emit volatile organic compounds in the air
Allergens ResistanceDon't let dust and other harmful particles to settle permanently, therefore it great for people with allergies Bamboos are materially hypoallergenic, therefore don't support any allergens
NoiseDoesn't have noise issues due to its compact natureHas air pockets in structure that echo the sounds that fall on its surface. Can also develop squeaky noises due to seasonal changes
Weather SuitabilityCan survive all weather conditionsHave to be kept safe from moisture and sunlight. Sunglight can cause decoloration. Also tends to expand and shrink depending on the season
CostQuality products are pricier than bamboo. But installation is sameIs a cheaper alternate to hardwood, and costs even less than porcelain. The good quality bamboo should not cost more than $7/sf
Flooring GuideTile Flooring GuideBamboo Flooring Guide

Durability

As both bamboo and porcelain are strong, they can endure most conditions without sustaining serious damage. A bamboo floor can last up to twenty years with proper maintenance, while good quality porcelain can last even longer.

This is mainly because unlike porcelain, bamboo is vulnerable to water. Although water damage on bamboo floors is not as severe as it would be on Hardwood, long-term exposure to water can wreak havoc on your bamboo floor. However, bamboo floors make up for this weakness by being resistant to scratches, nails, and heel marks.

With that said, you are still advised to avoid walking on your bamboo floor with sharp heels. The fact that it is not primarily wood, but overgrown, solid grass, bamboo lacks the general appeal of oak and maple. Once it lives out its life, it is also hard to refinish and polish, especially if it has a thin base.

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Maintenance

Porcelain, comparatively, is an easier material to maintain than Bamboo. Bamboo needs to be dry mopped, waxed, and protected against extreme weather conditions, making it high maintenance.

Similarly, while porcelain can be cleaned using most floor cleaners in the market with no danger of discoloration or losing shape, bamboo can only be cleaned using specific products for the material. Also, while cleaning bamboo, you have to be careful about not letting water stand on the surface for too long.

In case you leave water on your bamboo without mopping it up quickly, the floor soaks up the water. The water can also seep into the material through its joints and cause the floor to swell up.

Grit and dust can also damage both types of flooring. It can especially be problematic when there are long intervals between cleaning sessions. Tiny grit and dust particles will rub against the floor the more people walk on it, leaving permanent marks on the surface. Therefore, it is important to clean the floors every day.

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Shock Absorbance

Bamboo is structurally not as compact as porcelain. Since all plants breathe carbon dioxide in, they naturally have tiny air pockets within their structures. Even when they are pressed and turned into flooring, their small air pockets remain intact.

These tiny air pockets act as shock absorbents when something falls on a bamboo floor. Therefore, if a plate or a glass falls on your floor, there is a good chance that they will remain intact. In contrast, if something fragile falls on porcelain, there is a greater chance that it will break.

This is because porcelain is a more compressed material with a hard outer surface. While this compression helps prevent water from seeping in, it cannot absorb shock.

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Kids and Pet Friendliness

Porcelain and bamboo both can be slippery for kids and pets. Bamboo is available in finished varieties which can prove to be just as slippery, but porcelain clay is naturally smoother.

Therefore, it is easy for kids to slip and get injured. Pets have a harder time walking on porcelain, as well.

There is a way to prevent this. There are many tests available which measure the slipperiness of the surface.

A Ramp test, for example, checks the slipperiness of materials at different angles with varying substances like oil and water on it. An R-rating of 9-13 inclusive is given where the most slip-resistant product will have a rating of 13.

All you have to do is check these slip-resistance ratings at the back of your tile and get the ones most suitable for your family.

Another factor you should consider when buying flooring for a household which has kids and pets is your floor’s ability to absorb shock. Kids and pets often knock the things they can reach on the floor. If you have porcelain tiles on your floor, there is a high chance of your items getting damaged.

Though you cannot completely relax with bamboo, your antiques and valuables have a lesser chance of breaking if they fall on your bamboo floor.

Both types of flooring are fairly resistant to scratches and nail marks. However, you should avoid excessively rough usage.

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Eco-Friendliness

As compared to trees which can take many years to reach maturity, bamboos reach their maximum height within five to six years. Also, since bamboo is full-grown grass and not a tree, cutting it down does not cause deforestation.

Even though bamboo on its own does not harm the environment, the adhesive materials used to turn bamboo wood into flooring can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. But even that is a slow and gradual process.

Similarly, sourcing porcelain is a pretty harmless procedure, but its processing it in high-powered gas or electricity fueled kilns can leave a significant carbon dioxide imprint on the environment.

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Allergens Resistance

Bamboo is a natural hypoallergenic. This means that nothing in its genetic makeup can harm people with different allergies. The fact that bamboo doesn’t contain empty pockets for the dust to settle into, which you can clean easily, also makes it an ideal flooring option for people with allergies.

Porcelain has a smooth and seamless surface that doesn’t allow dust to settle permanently, as well. All it requires is regular cleaning, and it will remain free from all allergens.

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Noise

All wooden floors have one common problem. As mentioned earlier, they have tiny air pockets in their structures which echoes the sound that falls on its surface.

For instance, if you walk on the floor wearing shoes with hard heels, your steps will make noise. But this may not be as annoying as the noises heard on bamboo floors.

For instance, as fresh lumber dries, it shrinks. This process causes subfloor beams to shrink and loosen up as well. When that happens, the subfloor gets separated from the wood, and you may start to hear squeaky noises when the two layers rub together.

Additionally, over a period, and mainly due to seasonal effects, the nails that connect the subfloor with the upper surface can get loose and start making noises that can be really irritating at times.

Porcelain tiles, however, lack air pockets and don’t change much with the weather. Therefore, noise is not an issue with this type of flooring.

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Weather Suitability

As with all wood, bamboo tends to expand and shrink as seasons change as well. It is also prone to water damage. It is, however, more resistant to moisture than other kinds of wood.

Therefore, although it isn’t in significant danger of developing mold or bending if installed in a humid place, such conditions can significantly reduce the lifespan of the material. Bamboo can also lose its color whenever direct sunlight falls on its surface.

Porcelain, on the other hand, can withstand most weather conditions. And any seasonal changes can be facilitated better by having expansion joints in the tiled area.

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Cost

Unlike hardwood, bamboo not only costs less in terms of the material but also has a more straightforward installation process. While the material for a bamboo floor can cost you anywhere from $2 to $7/sf, installation can additionally cost up to $2,000 per 500 square feet.

While you can get lower quality porcelain at the same price as bamboo,  good quality porcelain should cost you no more than $15/sf. The installation cost is pretty much the same for both the products. But since you don’t require layering subfloors or preparing wood, you can save a lot of money by installing it on your own.

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The Verdict

You need to choose a product which suits your needs best. For that, you have to analyze your requirements and see which material suits them best.

While bamboo is a more cost-effective option, porcelain is easier to maintain. With many differences between the two flooring options, the choice is tough. We have listed some quick pros and cons to help make your decision easier:

Porcelain Tile Pros

  • Can sustain all weather conditions
  • Easier to maintain
  • Wider design varieties

Porcelain Tile Cons

  • Can be slippery
  • Unable to absorb shock
  • Can be pricier than bamboo

Bamboo Pros

  • Cheaper than porcelain
  • More resistant to slip
  • Eco-Friendly

Bamboo Cons

  • Susceptible to water
  • Can be noisy
  • Harder maintenance

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