Hardwood vs Bamboo Flooring. And where to buy.

So, I am remolding my house and am replacing the flooring. I was thinking about hardwood and was looking around at Lumber Liquidators when the salesman began to tell me about bamboo flooring.

Bamboo sounded good. He said it is harder than hardwood and is more moisture resistant (it will be in my kitchen as well, so that’s a plus). Bamboo sounded like what I was looking for. But then I started looking around online and now I’m not so sure.

I have read comments about bamboo getting scratched and dented very easily. And I have also read comments saying Lumber Liquidators are not a very reliable company. (http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/lumber_liquidators.html?page=2)

I planed on checking out at least 3 different flooring places before I decide on where to buy from. Lumber Liquidators just happened to be the first one I looked at and they seemed really good, so reading the negative reviews makes me wonder who I can trust. I have also read that Home Depot and Lows are not the best choices for such things.

I am looking to re-floor around 820 square feet, including the kitchen and a 16 square foot laundry closet on the second floor.

So, basically I want to know what people think about bamboo vs. hardwood, and what kind of experience people had getting hardwood or bamboo flooring installed.

I live in northeast PA. If anyone knows of any good flooring sellers and/or installers, I’d love to know.


I’m currently planning to undertake a similar project so I’m interested to read the responses here. I’ve also looked at LL and really like the look of their Morning Star antique hand-scraped strand bamboo (I think that’s the name). I’ve heard good things about LL but I’ve also only talked to a couple people.

If you have a Costco check if they sell bamboo flooring. Mine does and I’m impressed with the quality (at least in my limited experience), look, and price. At least at my store it is currently on sale for $2.07/sq ft. It’s a snap-together floating floor, so no nailing/gluing. It is a bit thinner than the samples I got from LL, but it has what appears to be a good warranty. It’s not on Costco’s website but the manufacturer has a website with more info.

I put down bamboo (from LL), and then removed it.
It was too smooth. Like glass. Our dog couldn’t walk on it. I ended up selling it to a friend, and he put it down in his house, where he has 5 kids, and the last time I was over there, the floor looked great. But, it does get dents and scratches, and because it’s so smooth, they tend to show more than a hardwood floor would.

I ended up putting in slate, which looks great, and wears well. But, if I was to do it again, I think I’d go for cork. It’s sustainable, feels good to walk on, is quiet, and is supposed to wear well and be somewhat self-healing.

How married are you to hardwood? Does a floor that scratches fairly easily work for your lifestyle? We put bamboo in our last house, and it scratched very easily. We have laminate in our current house, and I can’t praise it highly enough.

I haven’t had much luck with bamboo. The best wood flooring I’ve installed was a low grade #3 maple from LL. It’s cheap but not as cheap as you think because you have to buy extra due to all the defect. The colors and irregularities really make a beautiful floor.

I have Bamboo, laminate and engineered in my home (appx 1600 sq ft of wood flooring). The laminate seems to be the most scratch/dent resistant and was the easiest to install. To me, the bamboo looks the best and feels the best when you walk on it. I do agree that the bamboo is very smooth. When my dogs bolt in the front door they seem to have a competition to see who can make the rug in the middle of the room slide the farthest.

I have bamboo from LL. It does scratch some but I haven’t seen any dents. Not all bamboo is created equal, some is harder. The scratches are faily easy to take out with those hardwood sharpies they sell at Lowes. My dog does slide a bit on it, especially when she runs in with wet paws. I love mine.

I have hardwood from the front door to the back door, including the bathroom and kitchen. It’s gorgeous and I love it but drop something on it and it will dent and scratch and gouge.

Get it anyway… you’ll love it and it will make your house much more solid. Another outlet similar to LL is Wood Floors Plus - delivery cost is very reasonable.

As people have mentioned, bamboo flooring varies a great deal in hardness and quality. An option if you want something very durable is strand-woven flooring, in which the wood/bamboo fibers are processed with a resin that makes them much more impervious to scratches and dents.

One company I can personally recommend is Cali Bamboo: we redid our basement in their Natural Fossilized flooring, and have been very pleased with it. At the time (and perhaps still today), it was the single hardest floor on the market – when we got a sample, we had a fun time hitting it with various hammers and otherwise abusing it, and were unable to put any but the most superficial scratches on it. Some people might not like their floors to be quite THAT hard, but it works well for the high-traffic area we have it in. The company was genuinely great to deal with as well, and very ready to answer questions/make recommendations.

You do have to make your own arrangements for installation, because Cali Bamboo only sells the materials, but they keep a list of trained/recommended installers in multiple areas (and having an experienced installer is important for the super-hard stuff, which can require some finesse to put down, particularly if you want the floor nailed down instead of glued or floating). Since we only had the floor glued down in our basement, we picked a highly-rated contractor off of Angie’s List, and he had no trouble working with it.

I used a great installer from http://www.poconohardwoodfloorco.com/ recently. It’s just one or maybe a couple relatively young guys but he did great work and was reasonably priced. I don’t know what his range is depending on where you are in northeast PA.

He put in a bamboo floor for me that looks great. It’s been under a year but no scratches or dents so far. He also refinished two rooms that were 40-50 year old floors and the result was stunning. They didn’t just look like new hardwood floors, but like really high quality new floors. Next time I need floors done I’ll call the guy.

One thing to keep in mind - especially when looking for the lowest price (shaking head, sadly):

Look at the trim - is it even available? you want to transition from your bamboo to the vinyl or to a 3/4" solid hardwood, and your bamboo is 3/8".

Want the baseboard and/or door/window casement to match?

Even if thiese pieces are available, they are laminate - a picture of wood over cardboard or pressboard of some (cheapest available) sort.
A nice floor with cardboard at the edges looks like crap.

I saw a house with cheap planking on the end wall and more-or-less-matching laminate on the floor through the kitchen, in the dining nook, and out the slider to the large, nicely done brick BBQ.
Apparently, there was one obese family member.
Not only was the laminate’s “picture” layer gone in the path through the slider, but there were actual grooves where tubbie’s chair had slid in and out from the table.

The web has all kinds of DIY info.
Any bit which begins with a trip to a big box store can be skipped, with the possible exception of electrical and garden - at least those meet certain (very)min. requirements, and a quick compare to a real product will make the differences obvious.

Thanks for the replies guys. I still have no idea what I want to go with in flooring. I’m not actually looking to have it installed until the summer at the earliest. I am open to other flooring ideas besides hardwood though.

I am planning on staying in the house for life (but, things can of course change). I want something that will be resistant to scratch’s and such damage (but if the scratches serve to add character to the flooring, then that is fine) and water. I understand that a busted pipe will pretty much kill a wood floor. But I want something that will withstand me walking in the house with snowy pants or a wet rain coat and not have to worry about running back with a dry mop to get the little bit of water dried up. I have no experience with hardwood, is that even an issue?

And I googled “water proofing hardwood”, and found some info. But I’m not sure if you can even add oil-modified urethane or any of the other methods to a pre-finished floor. From my understanding, the pre-finished coating on the wood is sufficient water resistance, but the problem seams between the planks is the problem. Can the seams be coated to lock water out?

If anyone can give any advice, that would be great!

Take a look at some of the newer tile that looks like wood floors. It’s pretty impressive.

I’m trying to picture scratches on any floor adding character, and I’m coming up empty. To me, scratches just look like scratches.

We just put in new floors, and went with a laminate from Lumber Liquidators. Frankly, it’s a little more smooth than I’d have preferred, but it fit our budget and our needs (four kids, two dogs, and I’m not a very conscientious housekeeper.) I realize it’s anecdotal, but my mom and dad installed laminate about 6 years ago, even in the kitchen and bathrooms, and theirs looks great (even with two dogs, plus my dad is a big, heavy guy.) And no, my mother isn’t an obsessive housekeeper either. Their experience sold me on laminate for our needs (although we did put a good vinyl in the bathrooms.)

I spoke to a lot of people before choosing flooring, including a schoolmate who builds new homes, and another who is a finish contractor. Both have told me that a lot of their clients have ultimately been unhappy with bamboo floors, mainly because it seems to chip and scratch pretty easily. Newer products may have improved, but I wasn’t prepared to spend thousands of dollars to test that!

If my own budget had allowed, cork would have been my first choice for floors - durable, renewable, retards mildew growth. But that would have added almost $10k to our costs, and we just couldn’t make that happen.

Eta: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I had no problems ordering from Lumber Liquidators. Delivery time was about 12 days for approximately 2500 square feet of laminate, I paid about $250 for delivery, and the installer was impressed with the quality, especially for the price.

We bought this house with laminate floors, and after living in the house for almost five years and making no special efforts to be good to the floor, it looks about the same as the day we moved in.

Granted, I haven’t read all of the reviews linked by the OP, but the dozen or two that I saw? Weren’t mostly about Lumber Liquidators. They were manufacturer complaints, complaints about installers, and even a gripe that underlayment is recommended for laminate. (Of course, I haven’t really read up on LL’s policies regarding whether they warrant work done by recommended installers, so maybe the grumbling is legitimate. I had my floors installed by a local contractor whose credentials I checked for myself.)

But keep in mind that tile can be about 2x the cost of hardwood, installed. And that can be even higher, depending on the cost of the tile itself.

One type I haven’t heard much about - I hope there are quality products - it is a good idea.
Engineered Flooring.
It is 1mm or so of real hardwood glued to a laminate-type underlayer - it has the benfits of lower cost of the pressboard underlayerment with the installed appearance of real hardwood - some are represented as being sandable once or twice. With modern coatings, sanding should not be required.

Has anyone tried these? Any “Try this!” or “Avoid that” recomendations ?

I installed this in my kitchen.
It’s an Oak Engineered flooring, and it’s held up pretty well over the last 20 years. It could probably stand a sanding and refinishing, but it still looks good. I bought Bruce “seconds” - the planks had more color variations and knots, but I like the look.