A. My personal experience with bamboo flooring has been mixed. Granted, bamboo is one of the most important plants in the world, having a wide range of uses. It grows fast, regenerates without replanting, and requires no fertilizer. It reaches a mature height of 100 feet in just five years, making it an appealing renewable resource. Most commonly used in Asia, it has lately become fashionable in the West as a flooring material. But while many manufacturers promise superior hardness, the reality is that the hardness of bamboo flooring is highly variable. Some bamboo floors I've seen dent and scratch fairly easily, with as little as a fingernail, for example (see photo, below). Red oak doesn't do that. On the other hand, the superior hardness that is routinely promised can also be found.

There are several reasons for this inconsistent performance. The properties of bamboo depend on the season when it's harvested, the environment in which it was grown, the amount of rain and sun it has received, and its age when harvested. Immature two-year-old bamboo is weak and typically sold at a discount in the open market. Bamboo harvested...

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