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Bamboo: Enhancing bamboo’s visual, performance traits

October 15/22, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 9

By Reginald Tucker

 

Bamboo Hardwoods recently added a string of new colors to its signature Manor II line, which is reminiscent of aged French oak wine barrels.

Traditional bamboo floors have undergone a facelift of sorts as manufacturers continue to enhance the surface layer of the product as a means to spruce up the visual characteristics. The most popular treatments being incorporated today range from handscraping and distressing techniques to chemical or thermal staining processes that alter the coloring or texture.

Case in point are some of the new looks from Cali Bamboo. Its Malibu Wide Click flooring, for instance, features a multi-step process whereby the base color is applied and UV cured. On top of that comes a secondary color, which is wiped off by hand one plank at a time to create visual contrast. This process, according to the company, ensures each plank has its own unique color pattern.

“We have a lot of fun with our colors and offer many lines with complementing hues,” said Heather Noyes, quality manager. “With Malibu Wide Click, the warm caramel color peeks out beneath a dark chocolate brown color, giving the floor depth and warmth.”

Beyond that, Cali Bamboo also offers different distressing techniques designed to give customers more options depending on the look they desire. According to Noyes, this ranges from the heavily distressed Rustic Barnwood hard wax oil-finished floor line, which features aggressive saw marks, to the light distressed Vintage Java. And much like the labor-intensive, hand-staining process employed in the creation of Malibu Wide Click, many of the distressing techniques the company utilizes are achieved by hand.

“For example, our Antique Java line is created using several distressing methods: heavy hand scraping, light wire brush distressing, French bleed and claw marks,” Noyes explained. “The beauty of having this done by hand as opposed to by a machine is the amount of and location of the distressing is going to be different from plank to plank. This floor looks beautifully rustic as opposed to machine made.”

Other major suppliers and specialists are applying various techniques to make their products stand out from the pack. Wellmade Performance Flooring has focused on trendsetting textures and visuals throughout its offering. While mainstream carbonized and natural strand woven colors are available, enhanced glazing techniques have yielded a wide range of contemporary gray and earth tones featuring character-driven and striking color variations.

“Today’s low-gloss, wirebrushed finishes are prominent throughout the collection,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing. “Wellmade has explored the entire gamut of surface textures from smooth and hand-scraped or sculpted to lightly distressed with or without random chatter marks.”

Then there’s Bamboo Hardwoods, which recently added new colors to its signature Manor II line—a collection inspired by the natural tones characteristic of aged French oak wine barrels. The latest offerings feature strand-woven engineered products with a matte finish and subtle wirebrushing.

“Many bamboo flooring companies offer the standard natural and carbonized colors,” said Abigail Palace, director of sales and marketing. “What sets Bamboo Hardwoods apart is we are constantly analyzing trends and bringing new colors and finishes to the market. Aesthetics play a huge role in our decision-making process, and we strive to be leaders in flooring trends—not just bamboo flooring trends.”

Performance upgrades
It’s not just the surface layer of today’s bamboo flooring products that’s getting upgrades. Suppliers are also working on innovations that are designed to strengthen the product at its core. In the case of Wellmade, the focus is on improving bamboo’s resistance to moisture incursion. To that end, the company has unveiled what it calls the “next generation” of waterproof strand bamboo floors—a natural strand bamboo wear layer featuring its patented HDPC rigid core.

“Opti-Wood strand bamboo touts waterproof performance and installs without acclimation,” Wagner explained. “It also locks together easily without additional glue or underlayment. And it’s twice as hard as solid oak flooring and provides superior dent and scratch resistance.”

According to Wagner, Opti-Wood strand bamboo performs in all regions of the country, from arid western climates to humid coastal regions. He also said it’s the ideal flooring solution for living areas with increased risk of spills and humidity, such as kitchens and bathrooms, as well as below-grade basements and three-season rooms.

USFloors, maker of the growing portfolio of COREtec-branded resilient and rigid core products, is also looking to enhance bamboo flooring in the area of water resistance. According to Philippe Erramuzpe, COO, a main focus heading into 2019 will be a waterproof solution for bamboo flooring. As the product is still in development, he would only say it will likely entail the incorporation of a waterproof core.

“A lot of retailers have had bad experiences with bamboo flooring in the past—mostly with solid, strand-woven product,” Erramuzpe told FCNews. “So we are looking at using our waterproof platform to help make the retailer more comfortable with the category. Everything is going in the direction of waterproof, so that is the next step for us.”