37

Bamboo Flooring Cannot Be Refinished

Posted January 3rd, 2011 in Health, Performance by Bamboo Flooring Reviews

Ask different manufacturers, and you’ll get different answers to this question.  However, a careful look at how bamboo flooring is made should provide us with a fairly good idea of whether or not it can be refinished.

First of all, bamboo is not actual wood.  It is a grass, and like all grasses is made of many strands.  Here is the first problem.  When you sand down the surface prior to refinishing, these strands will tear out very easily.  You can see a picture of a sanded bamboo flooring plank below.  The sandpaper used was 100 grit – a much more forgiving grit than would be used if you actually had to refinish an entire floor.  You can see the fibers tearing out at the edges:

The next problem is the formaldehyde so commonly used in bamboo flooring production.  When you sand the floor, this toxic chemical is turned to dust.  Not only will the stench be unbearable, but the health risks will be incredible.  Formaldehyde can cause health problems ranging in severity from eye and throat irritation to cancer.  The dust will end up everywhere, contaminating your house as well as your lungs.

On the topic of glue, so much of it is used in bamboo flooring (as much as 20% glue content!) that a sanded down plank will look hideous, covered in glue pockets.  You can see these blemishes in the picture above.

Since bamboo is not as durable as manufacturers would have us believe, you will eventually have to do something about the dented and scratched surface.  If you can’t refinish it, you will have to replace it.

37 Responses so far.

  1. Penny Clark says:

    is there any bamboo flooring that doesn’t use formaldeyide? We wanted to use it for a bathroom floor.

    • Stephanie says:

      I would not recommend bamboo flooring in a bathroom. We have it in our kitchen and moisture makes the bamboo swell and sometimes doesn’t go back down of it gets wet enough. We have one spot in our kitchen where the flooring is swelled because our water machine leaked overnight and didn’t get wiped up quickly enough.

  2. Carolyn says:

    I made the BIGGEST mistake ever by putting in Bamboo flooring. I ended up getting a refund from the supplier on the flooring for one section that was pretty bad and which was the first section to be installed. The product deteriorates over time. Within a year the floors are shot. I am thinking about going back to them to reimburse me for the rest. The floor stains permanently, pits, gauges, is impossible to clean properly and is just plain horrible. I had no idea that formaldehyde was used in the processing until I read your article; there goes refinishing. You summed it up when you said “Since bamboo is not as durable as manufacturers would have us believe, you will eventually have to do something about the dented and scratched surface. If you can’t refinish it, you will have to replace it”. When I purchased my flooring I was told it was as hard as any hardwood! HA!!!

    • Juli says:

      I’ve been considering a floating bamboo floor and the strand woven samples that I’ve received I took to with a lump hammer and only just managed to dent them.

  3. Bryan says:

    all the complains ive read and pictures ive seen are of the horizontal bamboo flooring. There are 2 types of bamboo horizontal and stranded. Horizontal is very soft which is why it doesn’t hold up. stranded is very hard, 3 time harder than red oak. If you buy the correct type of bamboo flooring you’d be alot happier.

  4. David says:

    Furthermore there are bamboo flooring which are glue-free, so the formaldehyde problem described in this article is not applicable to all bamboo flooring. Just like you are better off with stranded bamboo, you are better off with glue-free bamboo. Not all bamboos are born equal. (Read the labels :-).)

    • Mr Bamboo Review says:

      David,

      I’m not sure where you’ve seen “glue-free” bamboo but that is actually impossible from a manufacturing standpoint since bamboo is a hollow plant and the walls of the plant are
      very thin. The bamboo stalks are cut into thin strips and infused with loads of glue and compressed and cured with heat this is a necessity to make the curved bamboo flat and to make a thick solid flooring plank.

      I’ve seen manufacturers advertise formaldehyde free bamboo but again you are relying on the Chinese manufacturer to not use these toxic glues.

      We all now how well that has worked in the past with lead paint used on kids toys which is still happening in the recent years and the toy market is heavily regulated for these health and safety concerns, building materials imported from China are not regulated like children’s toys.

      If you don’t believe me research “Chinese drywall” on Google and read about the nightmares American homeowners have faced all so these suppliers can promote cheap building products to homeowners and make more money.

  5. Meira says:

    So the stranded, formaldehyde free, glue-free bamboo flooring CAN be refinished?

    • Mr Bamboo Review says:

      There really is only one way to find out try it. But in my opinion since the regular horizontal grain (which has a simpler grain pattern) didn’t work well I think a much more complex grain structure like the strand woven would make it more difficult.

      On the horizontal bamboo floor I sanded for a friend I noticed horrible fumes that gave me a pounding headache within 10 minutes (even with a good dust mask on). I’ve never had issues like that from sanding a real hardwood floor. We had to open all the windows in the house for days to get the fumes out before we even thought about applying the new finish.

  6. Adele says:

    I hate my bamboo floors. When they were first installed I would find dead flies here and there. They were like the canary in the coal mine. Now I know it was from the formaldehyde and probably the glue too.
    I did think they were more durable. After a few years with my three dogs they desperately need refinishing. Now I find out that this would get us all ill. I guess I’m going to have them ripped out and put in either tile or concrete, like I have money to burn. Ugh.

    • Brenda says:

      Help. I was told that the stranded bamboo floors would be best instead of using. Procelain tile, such as travertine, in my large kitchen/ family room. In face instead of engineered hardwood in the rat of the house, such as KOa or maple, bamboo would be best. Glue down vs. Click. Please help with advise. I was looking at the stranded from lumber liquidators. Thank you for advice!

      • Brenda says:

        Oops sorry new iPad.. Correction Above. ..in fact instead of engineered hardwood floors in the rest of the house, such as KOA, maple or teak,stranded bamboo was recommended throughout the house.
        Thank you! Brenda

        • chris says:

          I would definitely steer clear of Lumber Liquidators for flooring, no matter what you go with. Though they have a variety of flooring “brands” to choose from, if you research, you will find that they are actually lumber Liquidators own brands. Check contact info on boxes and you’ll end up being referred to lumber Liquidators. Poor reviews. Forewarned is forearmed.

          • Mike says:

            I was a contract installer for Lumber Liqudators and I can honestly say their products are all seconds. Like Home Depot there is a reason they have low prices.

    • Debra says:

      I have to agree ….I totally agree ..I just hate mine ….and the fact that you can get sick ..makes me even more sick!

  7. Debra says:

    I really do not recommend bamboo floors for anyone that has an active family or has pets …I have had mine down and cry every day ….if I had my way I would have real hardwoods or title …I am almost having a nervous breakdown with my floors ..they looked so beautiful in the box and frankly that is where they should have stayed …..I think they are wonderful for the right home ..!

    • Paula says:

      I agree they should stay in the box. My daughter just had bamboo floor installed in living room. It’s already scratched .With very light traffic on it, what a waste of money,they had a rep.come and look at it they will be filing a claim. Will see what happens. DONT INSTALL BAMBOO FLOORING,

  8. Michele says:

    I too was talked out of getting the original hand scraped solid wood that I was looking at to getting the stranded bamboo because I was told it was the hardest surface. The finish started to chip away in 2 months and now they are spotted. I can totally relate to the woman who cries everyday at the sight of her floors. Is there any way staining can be done?

  9. Nancy says:

    Help! I need to replace my entire house-ranch 1700 sq.ft-all open. I have had pergo laminate down for 6-7 yrs. The refrigerator ice maker malfunctioned and caused water damage. Now I have to replace the entire house. We live on a farm-lots of traffic and dogs. I have been looking at all options-laminate again-hard wood-bamboo. My contractor is leading me towards hard work, but it scares me with all the dogs and traffic. I am open to any suggestions.
    Thanks

    • Debra says:

      Do yourself a favor stay clear of BAMBOO ..there is a nice tile that looks like Hardwood and cleans well for dogs …DO NOT I have a nightmare going on at my house …I am about to go over the edge. I am so clean and I hate these floors ..BAMBOO only looks good in a box. Email ….me please I will tell you more.

  10. Debra says:

    the most horrible story in North Texas. I bought my Bamboo flooring after we had water damage in our home. The prior floor that was there when I bought the home was a nice Bruce Hardwood Laminate “Wonderful product” that was installed by Home Depot. Why I did not go with the same? ….I do know and BIG MISTAKE! I bought my Bamboo Floor from a store called Floor & Decor in Plano, Texas. It looked great on display and in the box. The floor went down and like a scene from Ghost Hunters I am been haunted ever since….this floor is a Nightmare …! It is hard to keep clean, it scratches so easy, you cannot walk on it with shoes, slippers, flip flops. I do everything to keep it nice and clean it 2 to 3 times a day. But after I clean it my husband or myself walks from one side of the room to another and it all the dust, feet marks, come back with Revenge! I swear ..it is horrible!! I wish I would have done my research ..or seen this before I thought “Oh how pretty”. I was told this was like strong…durable…easy to maintain. I cry …cry and cry …I have panic attacks …over this terrible product because no matter what you do it is hard to maintain. For all you who are experiencing the same ..I pray for your sanity. If you want to buy grass …leaves …or any other product …go with Astroturf …that is my next choice!!

  11. Joan says:

    I bought a Bamboo floor in 2004 and had it installed from Build Direct, 25 year warranty they are not honoring. The finish has completely come off in the office, and I do not mop the office they. They refuse to replace of refinish the floor. I would not buy from them for anything as they do not honor their warranty, The warranty says wear coverage, but no they don’t cover that. They paid someone to inspect that said I mopped all the time which is not true. The wear is in different places, the floor in the living room and different places has grayed. Build Direct are dishonorable people, so don’t buy from them as they do not honor their warranty. Bamboo is not a durable floor and unfortunately I had it installed everywhere except the bathrooms and laundry room.

  12. Paula says:

    I also installed Bamboo flooring throughout my whole house. I hate it too….I did get all my money back so the floor was free (except of course the installation). I know it’s so hard to keep clean and damages easily. I have huge area rugs everywhere. It helps to protect them. I have been told that rugs will lighten the area where they are put over time but I CANNOT be without those rugs. In a few years I will replace these horrible floors anyway. The rugs do work however and ease the pain. At least the house looks nice.

  13. Jiljon says:

    I’ve had bamboo flooring installed throughout my home and I am so sorry I did!! they are the worst product for an active family .. I have about a dozen pieces damaged from the tiniest amount of water and I am distraught .. I am in the process of complaining to the supplier . I wish I had put down tiles!

  14. Joan says:

    Don’t buy it. I am testing pieces to see if I can refinish it.
    It is not working out well. Bamboo flooring is not what it is says it is.

  15. Dana says:

    Hi, my husband and I are planning on purchasing bamboo flooring from Mr.Bamboo. Supposedly this bamboo is from a different bamboo stalk that matures in 5 to 6 years. We like the Bamstrand and cannot decide between the auburn or coffee. Firstly, has anyone heard of this floor or had it installed? Are you happy with it? If so what color was chosen, was it true to the sample? We have a husky about 60lbs, two cats a 17 month old with plan of expanding our family. Please help! We have an appt for this Saturday. I can’t stand our builder grade carpet any longer. My husband has basically said with the price we can get this floor, it’s either this floor. Or we need to wait possibly another year! Thank you

  16. OM says:

    We just installed Bamboo floors… it looked good the day of the installation and the next day we spotted scratches and its so dirty that i can’t keep up with its cleaning. Any advice what to use to clean these floors? Currently I’m using Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner but its a pain.

    Also, online i keep reading different things about how to clean the bamboo. Is steam mop good for bamboo flooring? or is there anything besides BONA to use for bamboo??? UGH what a pain. I wanted hardwood floors but not bamboo pain in the rear floors :( :( …. waste of money! Lots of money :(

  17. Phil McCutchen says:

    We had more than 1,000 square feet of US Floors tiger stripe bamboo professionally installed according to the manufacturers directions. The supposedly hard-wearing finish scratches VERY easily under normal use. We demonstrated this to both the flooring contractor and a US Floors representative. US Floors claims this is ‘normal wear’ and is not covered. Their technical representative recommended that the floor be finished with hard-wearing polyurethane. What? None of their documents mention this! The flooring contractor has dropped US Floors products. NOT RECOMMENDED!

  18. L Pelch says:

    I stumbled on this site looking for the latest talk about sanding and refinishing bamboo floors. I have been in the business of refinishing wood floors for over 30 years and I anticipate being asked to do so. My leaning is to not get into it. Especially stranded ones. The threat of exposing my lungs, eyes, even my equipment to the bonding agents that are undoubtedly present in them is too much to risk.
    I’ve always been amused by the claims of sellers of these products that they are “green”. They come from factories in China that spew black smoke into the same air we breathe. So what, they can grow usable bamboo in 10 years while it takes 40 to grow oak. At the present time there is more available oak than there was in 1950 in the heyday of wood floor production. Bamboo is a silly product and should not be confused with actual wood floors, regardless of what HGTV says.

  19. Mike says:

    I have a client that wants me to repair his bamboo flooring where blue tape was put down for painting. It took the finish right off. I guess I should just do a few board replacements rather than refinishing.

  20. Hope Reeves says:

    bamboo floors are horrible and you CANT keep them clean!! looking into scraped hardwoods to replace.

  21. Ben Osborne says:

    Hello Guys, I recently refinished a bamboo floor, after the first day i went online and found this website and thread. I can comfirm that i had a stinging nose and throat from the formaldehyde, but not as bad as i have had it before with the old finished. I definately dont think its a DIY job. After reading this i definately kept ontop of the dust extraction and wore a mask. I have posted my experience for you to read! http://www.howtosandafloor.com/refinishing-bamboo-flooring/

  22. Debra says:

    I had US floors bamboo installed and have hated every minute of it. It has scratched, faded, separated (they say due to low humidity) and looks like cheap laminate. I have tried to have US Floors fess up to selling a poor quality product, but they want to put the blame on my home humidity and installers. It is impossible to clean properly; has spots hard to remove; and is the biggest regret I’ve made in my home improvement. Makes me ill just to think how a company could sell such an inferior product and get away with it.

Leave Your Own Bamboo Flooring Review