The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Flooring, Part I (Bamboo)

When Jason, Ben and I (Gray was just a twinkle in our eye, as they say) bought our home, it had had little done to it in the 20-some-odd years since it had been built. Even the paint, wallpaper and carpeting were all still in versions 1.0. Before we actually moved any of our things into the house, we began a week-long process of painting and reflooring. I have a vivid memory from that very first night, of laying down to rest a minute on a giant roll of dirty, dusty, 20-year old carpet that sat on our bare concrete floors. When we had pulled the ratty, brownish carpet up, the padding had been so old it had just disintegrated in our fingers.

Weeks earlier, Jason and I had decided to install wood flooring in the main living areas and hallway. Jason, who is always drawn to the newest, hippest products before they even become hip, wanted to do bamboo floors. But as the keeper of the budget, and practical mind of our twosome, I vetoed this idea in favor of an excellent deal we could get on maple colored engineered hard wood floors.

We are both still happy with this decision. The floors are gorgeous and easy to clean and they were relatively easy to install (I say, as though I actually installed them, when in fact, I had nothing to do with it, they were all the work of my talented husband). Engineered hardwood floors are actually a thin layer of pre-finished planks attached to tongue and grooved particle board. These floors are glued to each other but ‘floated’ on top of the sub floor; which just means that they do not need to be glued or nailed down. Jason spent about three days straight laying the approximately 700 square feet of wood floors we have, pretty much by himself. He had no experience laying that type of floor and they still turned out practically flawlessly.

On the other hand, if I had it to do over again, I would choose, instead, to go with the bamboo floors, for a few reasons. To begin with, environmentally speaking, bamboo is a much smarter choice. Bamboo grows with amazing speed in not very fertile soil. When harvested at it’s optimal maturity (4 years old) bamboo is 25% harder and just as strong as red oak, which is the most common material for wood flooring. So bamboo can be grown more quickly, with less damage to the environment, to an equal benefit to us and our floors. It’s a win/win situation.

Another reason to choose bamboo floors, is that in the last couple of years, they have become more prevalent, and therefore, cheaper and easier to install. You can buy engineered bamboo wood floors that you would install just like we (well, Jason) did ours, and at a comparable price. Cheap, easy to install, durable and environmentally conscious, how can you go wrong?

Any way you choose to go with your wood floors, a great resource (and the place that we got our excellent deal) is We went out to their showroom in Phoenix and came home with floors for $1.99 per square foot. Can’t beat that!

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