Every category of flooring starts out with the basics. Back in the day, hardwood was all about solid oak, which eventually morphed into engineered with a multitude of finishes and species. Carpet originally came off the loom as a wool product, with nylon and synthetic to follow. And bamboo is no different, with strand woven asthe latest development.
What exactly is strand woven bamboo, and what benefits does it provide over traditional bamboo flooring? According to Piet Dossche, CEO of USFloors, strand woven bamboo is much denser, making it a harder product and suitable specifically for high traffic and commercial applications. “Standard bamboo products average around 1,400 on the Janka hardness scale, while strand woven bamboo averages around 2,800,” Dossche said.
Ann Knight, vice president of marketing for Teragren, cited an even greater hardness range. “Quality, strand bamboo is much denser and can average between 3,000 and 3,600 on the Janka scale, while traditional (vertical and flat grain) bamboo flooring can range from 600 to 2,000 depending on the species used and maturity of the bamboo fiber.” She noted that Teragren’s FloorScore-certified Portfolio and Synergy strand bamboo flooring with Xcora technology are manufactured with state-of-the-art hot press equipment and proprietary formulas resulting in products 154% harder than red oak and 126% harder than North American maple.
Regarding its construction, Dossche doesn’t believe strand woven products are harder to produce than regular bamboo flooring. “It’s a different process altogether. With traditional horizontal or vertical bamboo, the stalk is split into strips, which are then assembled to make the panels, and milled into planks. With strand woven bamboo, the stalk is shredded or pulled apart into its fibers. Binders are added and the mixture is placed under extreme pressure to form beams similar in shape to a railroad tie. These beams are then sliced and milled into planks.”
There is also a difference in aesthetics. Dossche noted the look of strand woven bamboo has a more traditional hardwood visual compared to regular bamboo constructions. Knight agreed. “Strand bamboo has the aesthetic of exotic hardwoods such as tigerwood. The typical bamboo colors available are natural and caramelized variations.” As an example, she noted Teragren’s Synergy strand bamboo flooring is available in solid and wide plank floating options in wheat, java, chestnut and brindle colors.”
Mitch Manning, marketing manager, Dansk, said strand woven bamboo has a number of benefits over non-strand product beyond hardness, such as lower formaldehyde emissions, improved stability and the ability to be installed below grade. “Improved stability and below-grade installations are possible due to its construction. Traditional bamboo flooring may be compared to a bundle of straws through which moisture can travel, creating instability. But in strand woven construction, these straws have been shredded, compressed and filled with a water-based resin which greatly restricts moisture ingress and makes for an extremely stable product. When installed according to prescribed instructions this makes strand woven bamboo flooring highly suitable for installation on all grades.”
Some manufacturers put their own, unique spin on strand woven bamboo. Take USFloors, for example. The company’s Corboo product infuses layers of cork into the strand bamboo. “The cork provides a truly unique visual as well as improved sound absorption,” Dossche said. “This is an exclusive USFloors product for which we have a patent pending.”
USFloors’ differentiation extends to the finish of its strand woven bamboo, offering residential and commercial lines with its Natural E natural oil finish. “The finish brings out the character of the grain, and over time the floor will develop a rich, saturated patina. It is a beautiful floor that is also easy to maintain,” Dossche said.
Finally, he noted the choices in strand woven are just as plentiful as regular bamboo flooring. “With our manufacturing facility here in Dalton, we provide many different colors and constructions others cannot offer. It also gives USFloors the opportunity to provide custom colors. As an example, we recently produced a custom strand woven floor for a new restaurant in Austin, Tex., that was a very bright, almost fluorescent green. The floor makes a striking statement for its overall commercial design.”