Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Grass is Always Greener

Hardwoods are popular options for flooring today and a lot of effort goes into making more economical and sustainable use of the oak, maple, walnut and even cherry that we expect to tread upon daily. But in the name of sustainability why not walk on grass? Bamboo is becoming a mainstream "hardwood" flooring option and it's not a wood at all.

Botanically speaking, bamboo is a grass. It is also one of the most sustainable "wood" products available today. Here's why:

  • The growth period for bamboo stalks from sprout to maturity is approximately 3 years.
  • Bamboo forests require minimal, if any, fertilization or pesticides.
  • Bamboo plants regenerate themselves without a need for replanting.
If you're not familiar with bamboo flooring products, you may be wondering how a grass can possibly make a good floor in your home. Isn't it too soft or flimsy or green? Although a grass, bamboo is actually very strong, hard and dimensionally stable. And, a variety of finishes are available.
As a point of reference, bamboo's hardness, as measured by the Janka Ball Hardness Test, typically compares to or surpasses the hardness of red oak. Its dimensional stability is significantly greater than that of most common hardwoods.

Although there are many finish options to choose from, the major selection criteria to consider are vertical grain vs. horizontal grain and natural vs. stained vs. carbonized.
The grain direction refers to how the bamboo stalk is sliced. Vertical Grain, or VG, cuts result in thin, 1/4 inch wide strips that result in a floor with a traditional hardwood appearance. Horizontal, or HG, cuts produce 1 inch wide strips with the typical bamboo look.

The natural color of bamboo flooring is a light, golden tan but it can be stained any color. Another option is a process of heat-treating called "carbonization" that darkens the product to an amber color. It should be noted that as with most engineered products, each individual manufacturer has its own standards and means and methods.

Green Way Supply in Indianapolis is a supplier of a variety of green building products. According to Fred Gray, a co-owner of Green Way, Teragren Products is the bamboo flooring manufacturer that Green Way represents. Fred says that the reason he's so enthusiastic about Teragren is that they are committed to the environment.

Not only has Teragren established ISO certified manufacturing facilities in China, but their products use adhesive and finish materials that meet the most stringent environmental protection regulations in the world. Each of their bamboo products contribute to certification under the United States Green Building Council's LEED Rating System.

1 comment:

Janet said...

Very informative post!