You may remember it as linoleum but this is not the linoleum you might recall from your grandmother’s house. Out of the three types, strand-woven is the most durable and looks the least like traditional bamboo – with this option, bamboo is shredded and then compressed with adhesives. With engineered bamboo, the bamboo is horizontally cut which gives it a distinct bamboo-look like the stems have been flattened – this is the least durable option. Solid bamboo flooring consists of solid pieces of bamboo that have been glued together and is typically stronger than engineered with a thin stripe appearance ( source ). And then there’s the carbon sequestration capacity of a Bamboo plantation, which can’t be rivaled.
EBN dispelled the myth that bamboo flooring is taking food away from endangered Giant Pandas-pandas no longer live in the lowlands where bamboo is harvested for industrial use; but there are still a lot of variables to consider. Nearly all of the bamboo used in North America is grown in China, and there is great variability in bamboo growing and harvesting practices. Whether to compare bamboo on its merits as an agricultural product or its merits as an alternative to wood is well worth exploring further.
BuildingGreen announced the first FSC certified bamboo in 2008 , as a way to verify growing and harvest practices and GreenSpec now lists four companies with FSC certified bamboo. I’m all for holding other bio-based materials to the same high standards that we expect wood to be held to, but to push Bamboo into the wood category and demand that it be certified without demanding the same of all other agricultural products is unfair and misleading to consumers.
It also disadvantages the many Chinese families who grow Bamboo responsibly and yet aren’t hooked up with the handful of companies that have undertaken the political and financial effort to develop this marketing idea. Like you, we’re all for holding bio-based materials to the same high standards that we expect wood to be held to, and have argued that other agricultural products used as building materials – not just Bamboo – be held to such a standard (right along with non- biobased products, for that matter -Credit-43-and… ).
I agree with you that we should compare products based on the alternatives for that application, but if we compare hardwood to Bamboo then we also need to compare it to sisal, linseed-based linoleum, and any other flooring products made of bio-based materials. We should be worrying just as much about how those bio-based flooring products are produced as we do about Bamboo.