Choosing a Hardwood Floor

So now that I've shared the details on our flooring choice with all of you, lets get into the specifics, shall we? We chose to go with a bamboo flooring, rather than a hardwood and I'm going to explain what helped us to make our decision.

When we first decided that we wanted to replace the flooring in our living and dining rooms, we knew a hardwood of some sort was what we were after. There were actually hardwood floors already installed in those rooms, but the boards were pretty thin, not in the best condition and would have had to be stripped and stained. We decided that rather than take the risk of stripping and staining (and potentially spending a lot and not liking the end look) we would rip them out and start fresh.

The living room began looking like this (previous homeowners decor):

After we installed the new floor, we ended up with flooring that looked just like our bedroom floors:

We love the final product and are very happy with how it has turned out in every room we have installed it in.

We had previously installed laminate flooring in our last home and it was a great choice for that house. We knew it was not our forever home and based on the value of the house, we didn't want to put a lot into it, so laminate seemed like a good choice.  We were also hoping that it would slightly increase the value of the home when we sold it (since the carpet we replaced was AWFUL). We purchased a medium-dark coloured laminate and installed it ourselves. It took a few days (and a bit of getting used to!), but once we got started, it was smooth sailing. We bascially laid each board on the floor and tapped it in, using a rubber mallet. Some pieces went in smoother than others, but once you get the hang of it, its not that difficult.

Upon putting that house up for sale, we actually had people asking us if the floors were in fact hardwood (despite the high gloss finish), so we figured we made a good choice in the flooring.

Fast forward to our current house and although we liked the laminate, we decided to upgrade slightly and install  some type of hardwood instead.

The first decision we made was the type of wood. We loved the look of maple, however one of the downfalls to maple is that it is a softer wood. For us, that wasn't very logical. Not only do we have an 85 pound dog, but we also didn't want to have to worry about scratches and dents from kids in the future. So maple was out.

We knew we had to pick a harder floor and were recommended to consider oak but we didn't like the look of oak as much. Oak tends to show a lot of grain and that wasn't a look we preferred, so oak was out. There were a lot of other choices in wood floors, however we couldn't seem to find a wood or stain that fit our preferences. Many of the wood floors we looked at, were way out of our price range and we needed to find something that fit within our budget.

Through our research, we started to see a great deal of postive information about bamboo flooring and this intrigued us so we decided to investigate. When we went to look at a sample of bamboo, we compared it to a sample of maple and with a dark stain, the grains of the boards looked very similar. Bamboo definitely has a very specific look to it, but when comparing it to hardwood, it had a similiar look to the maple.

You can see in this picture here (bamboo on the left, hardwood on the right) that there is a very distinctive look to it:

We also found that bamboo does come in a fair amount of colour options. We often read that bamboo only comes in light or dark colours, but we found a fair amount of colours in between- it all depends on how it is manufactured. We chose a dark colour called "coffee" and although if I were to choose flooring all over again, I might go a bit lighter, I love the colour we picked. Since we went with a darker colour, its more likely that the flooring was produced through a more complex process which can make it slightly softer, however we haven't found this to be an issue yet.

So we liked the look of the grain, liked the colour options available, the next step was to find out the postive aspects of choosing bamboo over hardwood.

First off, we loved that bamboo floors were helpful to the environment, as they are a renewable resource. Bamboo floors are believed to be more sustainable than synthetic flooring products since they are generally made from natural sources-such as FSC-certified wood, bamboo, cork or eucalyptus. Bamboo is also a rapidly renewal resource. Since bamboo grows incredibly fast (much faster than tree's that can take decades to grow), bamboo is ready for harvest in about 4-6 years. As well, bamboo is not a tree, rather a grass which means that its root system is left intact when it is harvested, so it can continue to re-grow. Another positive aspect for the environment, is that bamboo requires less pesticides or chemical fertilizers (if any) compared to hardwoods during production.

This information helped us to understand that bamboo was an very environmentally friendly, but we also wanted to learn about the construction of bamboo flooring. Bamboo floors are constructed as the bamboo stalks are cut into strips and assembled in a variety of different ways. I thought this basic guide from TLC was an easy way to explain the different ways in which the construction is completed and the floors are stained a variety of different colours.

So in doing our research, we loved the look, loved the functionality of the wood and thats why we went with the flooring we did (bamboo). In the end, Im really happy that we chose to keep with the bamboo upstairs. Its going to be easy to clean and I think its going to look great. We've had a few set-backs with the flooring this week, but we'll update you on all of that next week :)

Happy Friday everyone!

Melissa and Ian

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