Orange County Bamboo FlooringAn attractive and environmentally friendly alternative to hardwood, bamboo is quickly becoming a go-to option for trendy, eco-conscious homeowners. Although this increasingly popular type of flooring is not quite as versatile as hardwood, there are multiple options available. The two main types of bamboo are natural and carbonized, and while the main difference between these selections involves aesthetics, there are also significant differences in cost and durability.

Natural Bamboo Flooring

Notable for its light color and affordability, natural bamboo flooring is a popular choice among price-conscious homeowners.

Pros: Natural bamboo is an incredibly affordable and eco-friendly flooring material. It is also notoriously durable, with many homeowners surprised to find that it stands up nearly as well to heavy use as traditional hardwood flooring. Because it holds up well to water and humidity, natural bamboo is great for bathrooms and kitchens.

The appearance of natural bamboo doesn't appeal to everybody, but many homeowners actually prefer its straw-like color, which lends itself well to natural lighting. If you have an abundance of windows and skylights, natural bamboo may complement the light and airy feel of your home's interior.

Cons: The impressive durability of natural bamboo means you'll spend minimal time and money on fixing dents or scratches, but unfortunately, that saved effort will be made up in sheer cleaning. Dust and debris show very easily on natural bamboo, in part because its color is so light. The light color of bamboo may also be problematic in that it is not nearly as sophisticated or versatile as the deeper hue associated with carbonized bamboo. As a result, you may struggle to find decor to match your straw-colored bamboo floors.

Carbonized Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo is often steamed or smoked for long periods of time. Known as carbonization, this process lends otherwise light-colored bamboo an amber hue, which many homeowners prefer to the straw color of natural bamboo. The carbonization process also softens the material, thereby making it more susceptible to damage.

Pros: Carbonized bamboo has a rich and sophisticated color, and is thus perfect for upscale dining rooms and parlors. You need not worry about selecting decor based on the floor, as carbonized bamboo can accommodate a wide array of styles. The dark hue of carbonized bamboo minimizes the appearance of grime, thus allowing you to go longer without cleaning.

Cons: The manufacturing process significantly weakens bamboo, leaving it vulnerable to dents. Heavy furniture can easily damage carbonized bamboo floors, even if furniture pads are used. Humidity often warps carbonized bamboo, so it's generally not a good fit for bathrooms and kitchens.

Although it is reasonably easy to refinish dented or scratched bamboo, this added effort and expense is rarely necessary for natural bamboo floors. Fortunately, some of the damage associated with bamboo carbonization can be prevented by treating the floor's surface with an aluminum oxide finish.

Carbonized bamboo is significantly more expensive than the natural version. Proponents argue that this investment is more than worthwhile, as carbonized bamboo can have a significant impact on home value. Other enthusiasts are willing to pay more regardless of home value, as they simply prefer the classier carbonized look.

No one type of bamboo is ideal for every situation. When determining which variety of bamboo flooring is best for your home, be sure to closely examine your budget, your style preferences, and your willingness to put up with regular cleaning and floor maintenance. Whether you select natural or carbonized bamboo, you'll love the look of your new flooring.

Photo Credit: Deniseus