Natural next to carbonized bamboo flooring

Natural VS Carbonized Bamboo Flooring – What’s The Difference?

Bamboo flooring has become a popular choice for many reasons. Not only does it have a similar aesthetic appearance to hardwood flooring, but it’s versatile, strong, and sustainable. When installed in the home, it can last a long time.

There are two main types of bamboo flooring: carbonized and natural. Carbonized bamboo flooring has a softer, smokier look and is best used for living spaces. Natural bamboo flooring, on the other hand, has a lighter hue and is more practical for kitchens and bathrooms.

Choosing between carbonized and natural bamboo for your home flooring needs requires careful consideration. Each has its benefits, but also a few downsides. That’s why we’ve created this overview of the differences between carbonized and natural bamboo flooring. Keep reading to find out which is best for your home!

Why choose bamboo flooring?

Bamboo flooring brings a modern, elegant, look. While it’s similar to hardwood in many ways, including its durability, it’s technically not hardwood since bamboo is a grass, not a tree.

Despite the technical difference between traditional hardwood flooring and bamboo flooring, they are quite similar in many ways. A high-quality bamboo floor is extremely strong and durable, comparable to the best hardwood flooring. And although the average lifespan of bamboo flooring isn’t as long as that of hardwood, the average cost is much lower.

Not to mention, bamboo is generally regarded as a more sustainable alternative to traditional hardwood. It’s a fast-growing resource that can reach maturity within 5 years. By comparison, an oak tree can take over 50 years to grow before it can be harvested.

What is carbonized bamboo flooring?

Carbonized bamboo is characterized by a dark, rich color. It’s often compared with hardwood flooring as it has a similar hue and versatility. The dark wooden color can be matched with almost any style of home décor. This type of flooring is most commonly found in main living areas, like lounges, dining areas, and hallways.

Turning bamboo into a material used in flooring isn’t as simple as milling planks from tree trunks. Unlike trees, bamboo has to be harvested, then processed, before it can be milled into planks. The type of processing it undergoes determines whether it’s natural or carbonized.

Carbonized bamboo flooring installed in living room with a couch and large windows

How is carbonized bamboo made?

To manufacture carbonized bamboo flooring, bamboo canes are first harvested and stripped of their outer skin. The stems are then cut into strings and boiled in hydrogen peroxide, lime acid, or boric acid. Boiling removes any sugar, starch, and insect debris. It also prevents the bamboo planks from expanding too much when installed.

To finish off, the bamboo strips are carbonized before being dried. This includes being steamed and smoked for long periods. The carbonization results in a darker tone, but also slightly weakens the structure of the bamboo.

The final step in the manufacturing process is bonding the strips of bamboo together. These blocks are then milled into individual planks.

What’s the difference between carbonized bamboo and natural bamboo flooring?

Natural bamboo flooring is similar to carbonized. It’s manufactured in the same way, except it isn’t smoked at the end of the process. This means it retains its light, lemony color, unlike carbonized bamboo which adopts a darker hue.

Because natural bamboo flooring isn’t smoked, it retains its structure and strength slightly better. For this reason, it’s generally considered more durable and versatile.

Natural bamboo flooring installed in fully furnished bedroom
Natural bamboo flooring

Here’s a summary of the main differences between carbonized and natural bamboo flooring:

Carbonized bamboo flooringNatural bamboo flooring
AppearanceHas a dark, rich, wooden colorHas a light, airy, straw-like color
Is it waterproof?NoYes, and can also withstand high humidity
Is it pet-friendly?YesYes
DurabilityNot as durable as natural bambooMore durable than carbonized bamboo
Best locationLiving rooms, dining rooms, hallwaysKitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, hallways
CostMore expensiveLess expensive

Both carbonized and natural bamboo flooring can last a long time, with an average lifespan of about 20-25 years. However, carbonized bamboo flooring requires more maintenance to ensure its durability. Because it’s softer, its structure is weaker and therefore more prone to damage and fading.

With routine care, some bamboo flooring has been known to last up to 50 years!

Carbonized vs natural bamboo flooring – which is better?

Both carbonized and natural bamboo are considered more eco-friendly alternatives compared to hardwood flooring. Because hardwood flooring is made from 40–60-year-old trees, it isn’t considered a sustainable product for widespread production.

By contrast, bamboo is known for its fast-growing abilities. In several years, it can reach its full maturity, ready for use in flooring and many other bamboo products. Some species grow even faster. For this reason, it’s considered a more sustainable renewable resource.

Benefits of carbonized bamboo flooring

Numerous benefits exist when choosing carbonized bamboo for your flooring. Despite it being the more expensive option of the two, it offers the following benefits when installed in your home:

  • Dark hue can match any home décor style and color
  • Shaded tone hides dirt and dust, requiring to less frequent cleaning
  • Considered valuable, which could increase your property’s resale price
  • Easy to refinish if damaged

Disadvantages of carbonized bamboo flooring

Few problems exist with carbonized bamboo flooring. However, it can be considered more high maintenance when compared with natural bamboo. Here are the some of the common issues with carbonized bamboo flooring:

  • Not as durable as natural bamboo, as the carbonization weakens it
  • Heavy furniture can cause dents, even with protective pads
  • Not waterproof, making it unsuitable for bathrooms or kitchens
  • Cannot withstand high humidity, making it a poor fit for utility areas
  • Needs to be treated regularly to prevent weakening, wear, and damage
  • More expensive option compared with natural bamboo

Benefits of natural bamboo flooring

Many people choose natural bamboo flooring for their home due to a handful of benefits. Not only is it the more affordable option, but it also requires less maintenance, is considered more versatile, and boasts high durability.

  • Affordable, especially compared to carbonized bamboo
  • Highly durable and can withstand the weight of heavy furniture
  • Versatile and can be used anywhere in the home, especially in moisture-prone areas, including kitchens, bathrooms, and utility areas
  • Long-lasting without the need for frequent treatment

Disadvantages of natural bamboo flooring

Just like carbonized bamboo flooring, natural bamboo has few issues that would make it a bad option for your home. It can be installed anywhere in the home and is a more affordable option even than carbonized bamboo flooring.

However, there are some things you should consider before buying:

  • Difficult to keep maintain a clean, dust-free look
  • Can be tricky to match with existing home décor schemes
Two rooms in a house with different colored flooring and the text: Bamboo Flooring - Carbonized vs. Natural

Which type of bamboo flooring is best?

When comparing carbonized and natural bamboo flooring options, there are some notable differences. Which type is the best for your home ultimately depends on where you’d like to use it, what aesthetic you want to create, and how much maintenance you’re prepared to do. It also depends on what your budget is.

Natural bamboo is the most affordable, durable, and can be used everywhere, including kitchens and bathrooms. But it can be more difficult to keep clean, since it has a light, creamy appearance. It can also be tricky to match its light-wood color to a home aesthetic without redecorating.

Even though carbonized bamboo flooring is more expensive, it’s more desirable and can therefore boost the value of your property. Its smoky appearance is also easier to pair with any color scheme. However, it can’t be used in high-humidity areas, nor is it a good fit for placing underneath heavy furniture (unless you’re willing to accept the damage it can cause).

FAQ about carbonized bamboo vs. natural

Is carbonized bamboo waterproof?

No, carbonized bamboo is not waterproof.

What does carbonized bamboo mean?

It means that bamboo has been processed in a carbonized oven. Strips of bamboo is steamed and smoked for long periods before bonding together to make the carbonized bamboo flooring.

Is bamboo flooring lighter than wood?

Yes, in general bamboo flooring is lighter than wood flooring.

What do you like about bamboo flooring? Do you prefer the look of carbonized or natural bamboo flooring? Let us know below!
Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo
About the Author: James Zimmerman

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