Tuesday, 21 June 2011

How Strand Woven Bamboo Flooring is Made

Strand woven bamboo made in China

Strand woven bamboo flooring is usually made in China with moso bamboo. It is a bamboo type that grows very tall and is sometimes seen in Kung Fu movies. It is also a popular type of bamboo in Japan. The Japanese, sadly however, don't make strand woven bamboo flooring.

Process to make strand woven bamboo

Moso bamboo takes about 5 years to reach maturity. At which point the bamboo is harvested and separated into strands. Then  it is boiled to remove the sugars in the plant that attract termites.

After boiling, the bamboo culms along with foliage are subjected to heat and pressure. The fact that all the plant is used cuts out waste and thus makes strand woven bamboo more resource-efficient than horizontal bamboo or vertical bamboo flooring.

A low VOC bonding agent is added at the stage of heat and compression. The end process produces a hard plank of strand woven bamboo. Strand woven bamboo looks and feels like timber. It is then sent to a mill where it is cut into flooring planks.

Finished strand woven bamboo flooring

With strand woven bamboo flooring the growth rings are clearly visible because it the bamboo is compressed wide edge up. Blocks of strand woven bamboo are usually cut into 6 foot long planks. They are often in a tongue and groove style for easy installation. Several layers of hard coating are added to the flooring to make it extra hard.

Strand woven bamboo made from this process is very hard and has a high Janka Hardness Rating. It is a pale color with a grain and thus looks like a light hardwood.

Carbonized strand woven bamboo

Often the strand woven bamboo is subjected to further heating to remove more sugar. The result is that the sugar is caramelized and a richer and browner hue is achieved. This is called carbonized strand woven bamboo. Sometimes normal strand woven bamboo is combined with carbonized strand woven bamboo to make tiger stripe bamboo. This makes a stylish and striking flooring. The only problem with carbonized strand woven bamboo is that it lowers the hardness of the bamboo by up to 30%.

Environmental Issues with Strand Woven Bamboo Flooring

There is not much that you can write to criticize the earth friendly credentials of strand woven bamboo flooring. It helps to stop deforestation and bamboo is a great renewable resource.

The only 2 caveats with strand woven bamboo flooring are:

It is mostly made in China where there is very little over-sight of farming practices to make sure habitat is not lost and dangerous pesticides are not used. Moreover, fair trade agreements are virtually unheard of in the People's Republic.

Better than low VOC adhesive to make strand woven bamboo flooring would be if a zero VOC adhesive could be developed to bind the bamboo instead. The field of biomimicry has made big advances recently and surely more should be done to make a powerful adhesive copying nature and thus removing dangerous chemicals that off-gas in the home.