Bamboo Vs. Laminate Flooring
A Look at Two of the Top-Selling Wood Flooring Options
These two types of wood flooring have become increasingly popular in recent years. They are both excellent flooring choices for any room in the house. This consumer flooring guide compares the pros and cons of both bamboo and laminate floors – including cost data - side-by-side so that you can make an informed decision on which option is right for you.
Bamboo has several advantages over laminate flooring specifically, and all types of flooring in general. These advantages include:
- Sustainability: Bamboo is not a tree – technically speaking, it’s a type of grass. This means that while trees used to make hardwood floors and the ply’s (layers) of laminate floors need 20-30 years and more to reach maturity, a bamboo forest can be harvested and replenished in as little as 7-9 years.
- Natural Beauty and Selection: No matter how much science delivers, synthetic and manufactured materials will never match the elegance, warmth, and beauty of natural woods. Bamboo comes in 3 distinct styles depending how the material is processed – horizontal grain, vertical grain, and strand bamboo.
- Durability: Bamboo is a naturally tough material. It resists physical damage exceedingly well, and if properly sealed, stands up very well against moisture and wetness. The Janka hardness test rates horizontal and vertical grain bamboo between 1700-1800, while strand bamboo – one of the strongest woods available – tops out at 3000 (for a comparison, a popular flooring option, red oak, is rated at 1260).
Laminate flooring, often known by trade names such as Pergot, Lamton, or Trafficmaster, offers the following benefits over the competition:
- Affordability: Laminate flooring is constructed with a clear protectant outer layer, a decorative layer underneath this, with a structural layer of fiberboard or wood product as a base. This means a lower cost to the consumer while mimicking hundreds of types of natural hardwood floors – from mahogany, white and red oak, to more exotic woods such as teak or Brazilian walnut.
- Longevity: Natural hardwoods are greatly affected by temperature changes, moisture and UV rays. Solid woods tend to warp, shrink, expand and even split due to these events. Laminate flooring, with its multi-ply (layer) construction, is much less susceptible to such damage.
- Installation Options: While natural hardwood floor installations must be nailed to the subfloor, most types of laminate flooring can also be installed as a floating floor. Floating floors are attached to the surrounding flooring pieces as opposed to the subfloor. These floors can be installed over most existing floors without removing it, saving on labor costs.
Bamboo and Laminate Flooring Costs
The following prices are based on national averages and may be slightly affected by your exact location. An unusually shaped room (radiused walls, several small closets or other small nooks and crannies) may be slightly more expensive as well.
- Expect a bamboo floor to cost $5-$11 per square foot including installation. Materials run from $2-$6 per square foot depending on quality, thickness and width of individual planks. A typical 200 square foot room will cost $1,200-$2,400.
- Economical laminate flooring can be found for $.70 - $2.00 per square foot. Thicker, more durable materials cost $2-$6 per square foot, depending on quality. Underlayment, which is useful for noise reduction and insulating qualities, costs $.50-$1.00 per square foot. Installationtypically runs $2-$4 per square foot. Using our 200 square foot sample room, total costs would be $640-$2,200.
- Removal of existing flooring could add $1-$4 per square foot, depending on the type of flooring installed. Stone tile and wood floors tend to be costlier to remove.