If you’re concerned about the environment, you should be aware that bamboo is a renewable ‘green’ source of flooring for your log cabin construction. China, Indonesia, Viet Nam, the Philippines and Korea are the major sources of bamboo. As an environmental aside, pandas don’t eat the species of bamboo used for commercial products.
Solid hardwood is commonly used for log cabin floors. While a hardwood tree may take 100 years or more to mature and is destroyed when cut down for flooring, a bamboo plant remains alive and requires around 6 years to re-grow to a harvestable length. Bamboo actually grows one to three feet a day during its peak growth period. Even though it is officially categorized as a grass, bamboo exceeds a number of hardwoods in ‘hardness.’
Bamboo plants stalks are cut down and the outer green layer and shoots are removed. The remainder is boiled and ‘purified.’ Its natural color is light blond. The bamboo may also be pressure steamed to produce a darker ‘carbonized’ color that accentuates the grain pattern. However, this carbonization process reduces the hardness of the bamboo about 10%.
The bamboo logs are then sorted into ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades. Strips of similarly graded bamboo are first placed together either vertically or horizontally. Then they are glued together and high pressure is applied to form ‘blocks’. The blocks are then milled to form the final flooring planks.
Besides the natural blond and darker carbonized colors, the natural planks can be stained to produce a variety of other colors. You can choose the best color to complement your log cabin walls. Like hardwood boards, bamboo flooring is available in unfinished or finished options.
The Janka Hardness ratings for bamboo are 1380 for natural bamboo and 1180 for carbonized bamboo. The rating of natural bamboo is actually higher than red (1290) and white (1360) oak.
Bamboo flooring is typically tongue and groove manufactured. It can be nailed or glued to a subfloor. A floating option is also available to do it yourself handymen. It can be installed over concrete with a vapor barrier for a floating floor. There are also moisture barrier adhesives available for glueing down the bamboo flooring.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of bamboo flooring is the cost. It can be up to 50% lower that solid hardwood floors. I will certainly be investigating bamboo flooring when I make a choice for my log cabin construction.