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Bamboo Flooring vs. Laminate: Which to Buy?

March 13, 2020

So you’ve made it to the peak of your flooring journey, and now you’re left with your final decision: bamboo flooring vs. laminate flooring. 

It’s like choosing between a leather couch and a recliner. They’re both super comfy and amazing in their own ways, but one is generally thought to be a bit superior to the other.

But as with all types of flooring, “superior” is really in the eye of the beholder (and who doesn’t love a good recliner?). So to make the choice easier, we’re going to show you exactly how bamboo flooring stacks up vs. laminate, side-by-side. 

We’re going to compare both materials’ costs, durability, comfort, style, and more. Get out a notepad, friends. We’re diving into the nitty-gritty of bamboo flooring vs. laminate. 

Bamboo flooring vs. laminate flooring: at a glance

Broadly speaking, there are some key differences between bamboo and laminate. Here’s how their makeups compare:

What is bamboo flooring made of?

Although some people think of it as a hardwood floor, bamboo is actually a grass. That said, like hardwood flooring, it can come as either an engineered or solid product, and it can be stained and finished in any number of ways—just like hardwood can. 

Engineered bamboo planks

Given this range of options, you’ll have a lot to decide on if you choose to go with bamboo. Do you want something carbonized or non-carbonized? Strand-woven, vertical, or horizontal? Like we said, you’ve got choices—so check out our guide on the best bamboo flooring types to understand your options.

What is laminate flooring made of?

Laminate flooring is one of the most durable flooring options on the market. And though it can be made to look like most wood flooring types, it’s actually a manufactured product made of:

  • A plywood or fiberboard base layer (for strength and form).
  • A photo-realistic image layer that can mimic just about anything.
  • A hard, plasticate wear layer to protect from scratches and dings.

These days, image layer printing has become so good that laminate flooring can successfully imitate all types of tile, along with metal, wood, and even cloth.

Which costs more: bamboo or laminate?

Ok, so the easy answer to the bamboo flooring vs. laminate price debate is this: bamboo flooring costs more. 

But you probably knew that already. Bamboo is a natural product, and natural products almost always cost more. What you might not know is how much more it costs—or why. Luckily, both are affordable types of flooring with a broad price point.

Bamboo has a reasonable price tag 

Bamboo can often run anywhere between $4 and $10 per square foot. Of course, it depends on what type you buy—carbonized is usually a bit more expensive than non-carbonized, and strand-woven is usually a bit more expensive than horizontal or vertical.

Laminate is often thought of as a budget option (but it shouldn’t be!)

Historically, laminate has been thought of as a budget option (especially if you’re comparing laminate vs. hardwood floors). But these days, laminate is stepping out on its own. And though you can still find it at a budget price, the material can run anywhere from $1 all the way to $10 per square foot

It’s all about the product itself. Some high-quality laminates claim to be entirely waterproof flooring options, while some budget options can look a bit plasticky. 

Installing bamboo flooring vs. laminate flooring

If you’re wondering how to replace flooring with either bamboo or laminate, you’re in luck: both of these products come in DIY-friendly formats. But… if this is your first flooring rodeo, we wouldn’t exactly recommend it. Do-it-yourself flooring has a big margin for error, so we’d say you’re better off finding a flooring dealer in your area to help you out.  

Installing laminate flooring is relatively easy

dog on laminate wood look floor

Laminate floors are almost always sold as click-together flooring, meaning they have an interlocking plank system that snaps together easily over existing surfaces. Because it’s held in place by friction, this is also known as a “floating floor”. If installed correctly, you won’t need any adhesive or nails.

And installing bamboo flooring can be as easy as you want it to be

Bamboo can come as snap-together flooring, but you can also buy varieties that are nailed or glued to a subfloor as well. It all depends on what you want. While everyone knows there are advantages and disadvantages of floating floors, they’re usually a bit easier to install than floors that are attached directly to a subfloor.

Is bamboo more durable than laminate?

Bamboo is super durable and can last indefinitely

Bamboo has properties like hardwood; it’s strong, it’s beautiful, but depending on the finish, it can be dinged and scratched. That said, non-carbonized bamboo is just as strong as oak flooring, and strand-woven bamboo flooring is twice as strong—so it’s not weak by any stretch of the imagination.  

And like hardwood flooring, some types of bamboo flooring can be refinished—meaning it can last indefinitely. 

Laminate is super durable and is guaranteed through warranty

How long will laminate floors last? It depends, but many laminate floors come with a clear warranty that outlines exactly how long they’ll last under proper conditions. Many types are specifically designed to be resistant to scratching thanks to a tough wear layer, so you don’t have to worry about dings from children or animals. Unfortunately, it can’t be refinished like some kinds of bamboo can. 

Bamboo flooring vs. laminate: waterproof qualities

bedroom with bamboo floors

Which of these floors are waterproof? It depends who you ask. Laminate isn’t always waterproof, but you can find some products that are (or claim to be). With bamboo, it also depends on the product—though you won’t find any totally “waterproof” types of bamboo flooring.

The feel of bamboo flooring vs. laminate

Which one of these will make you feel as though you’re walking on clouds made of velvet? Both! For the right price, that is. 

Bamboo is an insulator, so you’ll never have to worry about getting out of bed and stepping onto a cold floor. And since it’s a natural product, no matter what type of bamboo you get (or at what price point), it’s gonna be a comfy flooring option

Laminate, on the other hand, can occasionally feel plasticky at a lower price point (and be a bit chilly in the morning). But when it comes to the higher-end products, it can be like walking on a cloud! And if you’re looking for a bit of a cozy winter floor, you can always look into the differences between carpet vs. laminate to figure out what’s best for you. Or, just throw down some peel-and-stick carpet tiles for the best of both worlds.

The verdict

So: which of these flooring options is better? That’s up to you! Like tile vs. laminate, the bamboo flooring vs. laminate debate has no clear winner. We just hope we’ve given you all the facts you need to make your choice!

And when you are ready to pick your dream flooring, use this flooring dealers near me tool to find a local retailer in your area. They’ll be able to help you with everything. And for more information on all things flooring, check out: 

About The Author

Fredrick Otto Jr.

Fredrick is a writer that loves providing a good story. If he's not on his couch working, he can be found gaming in his man cave.

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