Of all the home improvement projects you undertake, one of the most noticeable ones is which new flooring you decide to go with, and for people on budgets, the option often comes down to bamboo vs laminate.
While hardwood flooring is a beautiful and classic option, and tile flooring is still used for bathrooms and even kitchen renovations, both bamboo flooring and laminate flooring have been practical options for the homeowner who needs an alternative.
While the 1980s and 1990s ushered in laminate flooring as an exciting new option for DIYers and those hiring professionals alike, now the rage is all about bamboo flooring.
By some estimates, bamboo flooring may just be the biggest player in terms of growth, in the entire flooring industry. A comprehensive market analysis projects that, from 2019 through 2025, bamboo flooring will reach a market share of over fourteen hundred million dollars, an increase of approximately two hundred million dollars.
But what made bamboo flooring so popular, and is laminate flooring still widely seen as an affordable flooring solution?
In this article, I’ll go behind the trends and give you the details of everything you need to know– from pricing, variety and durability– to help you decide if bamboo flooring or laminate flooring is the right option for your next home improvement project.
Main Differences Bamboo vs Laminate Flooring
The main differences between Bamboo vs Laminate Flooring are:
- Bamboo flooring has more installation options, whereas Laminate flooring is slightly cheaper
- Bamboo flooring can hold up to 25 years, whereas Laminate flooring can hold up to 15 years
- Bamboo flooring is more resistant to moisture, whereas high-quality laminate flooring is scratch-resistant
How do I decide which flooring to buy?
Whether you’re renovating your entire home or just a single room, you want to know that you’re selecting the right flooring for your project. If you’re like me, you want to know what the best flooring is in 2021, but there is no one right answer.
Instead, the best flooring is not the most popular flooring, or perhaps even the most durable. You need to consider how the space will be used, what your budget will allow, and what factors are most important to you.
Of course, with countless flooring options, this can be quite overwhelming. I recommend keeping an eye on some key criteria in mind, then ranking them in order of importance. When comparing bamboo flooring vs laminate flooring. I’ll be taking a look at the following factors and guide you to what I most recommend as the best overall value.
If you’re considering laminate flooring vs bamboo flooring, price is likely important to you. Both are seen as the most affordable flooring options, both cost a good deal less than hardwood flooring. For price point, factor in price per square foot, as well as installation costs.
You’ll save money if you install it yourself – but only if you really know what you’re doing. Consider that you should have some experience before trying to DIY a huge flooring project. If you’re unsure, it may end up making more sense, and potentially costing less, to hire a professional.
Do you want to get the best deal on flooring? Read our full guide to find out when is the best time in the year to buy flooring.
If you do, in fact, feel confident enough, it’s helpful to know that some flooring is naturally easier to install than others. If you’re bound and determined to DIY, for instance, carpet tends to be especially difficult, due to the need to lay it down completely flat from corner to corner.
Popularity may not be a factor of great importance to you, especially as home trends change over time. However, popularity can impact availability, which provides more options of where to buy, price points, and styles. For the homeowner that does what to stay on top of trends, or simply doesn’t want their house to ‘look dated,’ this could be a slightly more important factor.
Styles and Variety
Styles and variety offered, of course, are in part connected to the popularity and availability of the flooring option. Style, of course, is a matter of preference and ranges from pattern, wood, grains, and colors. Varieties refer to different types of flooring within that category, which can impact the overall durability and look of the flooring.
Durability & Lifestyle
One of the very most important factors when deciding between laminate flooring vs bamboo flooring– or any flooring for that matter – comes down to durability. The longevity of your flooring, of course, depends on your personal lifestyle to a degree. Factors for flooring durability include scratch resistance, water resistance, and more.
Lifestyle factors include upkeep– will you need to always have the best dust collector on hand? How easy is it to clean and maintain the flooring?
All of these factors need to be considered in context of where the flooring will be installed. For instance, if it’s for one room you only use lightly, you may require a less durable flooring option than for a high traffic area like kitchens or front halls.
Which is better: bamboo flooring vs laminate flooring?
Now that I’ve told you my criteria for flooring, let’s take a look at bamboo vs laminate flooring. Both of these options, as I mentioned, are considered to be affordable and relatively accessible. In many ways, as both have evolved, there’s little doubt that they’ll be compared.
But despite their similarities in terms of appeal, there are also stark differences between bamboo vs laminate flooring that may well make your decision for you.
Let’s take a look at some of the differences, and keep track of what’s most important for you– neither flooring option is perfect, and both bamboo and laminate flooring comes with pros and cons.
The cost of bamboo flooring and laminate flooring is a draw for both– so how do they compare, and which is cheaper?
Bamboo flooring projects, on average, range from $1,500 to $15,000, with an average spent hovering around $6,000.
For greater context, bamboo flooring costs around five to fifteen dollars per square foot, with cell bamboo flooring priced at often under five dollars per square foot, up to varieties like tara green exceeding nine or ten dollars.
A 250 square foot room can run you a few thousand dollars – with an average of just over one thousand dollars, up to just over two thousand dollars. If you hire a professional, the average cost is around four dollars per square foot.
Laminate flooring projects average $1,380 to $4,500, with an average spent hovering around $2,800. For additional context, laminate flooring costs between one to five dollars per square foot, with the most popular options priced at three to four dollars per square foot.
A 250 square foot run can run you a few hundred to just a bit over a thousand dollars. If you hire a professional, expect to pay around three to eight dollars per square foot for the entire cost– materials and labor combined.
Laminate flooring and bamboo flooring are both considered relatively affordable options, but laminate flooring in most cases will save you money.
There is some overlap– the cheapest bamboo, for instance, may not be too different in price – but installation costs and projects overall are a bit more expensive for bamboo flooring vs laminate flooring.
Keep in mind that the discrepancy between overall spending is in part due to use – it may be that people are more likely to install bamboo flooring through larger areas vs laminate flooring.
If you don’t want to spend money on a professional, or simply want the experience of a DIY project, it’s important to know what you’re committing to. What are the differences, if any, for DIY installation for bamboo vs laminate flooring?
Depending on what variety you select, bamboo flooring is one of the easier flooring options to do yourself. Engineered bamboo using a floating floor installation system, which requires snapping together planks over a foam pad bottom layer.
This type of bamboo flooring doesn’t require nailing, reducing the risk for damages and making the installation process easier and faster. You can even buy engineered bamboo flooring that’s already stained.
Laminate flooring, like bamboo flooring, requires less work than hardwood or tile flooring. Laminate flooring isn’t installed through nails, but is most often glued down. You can either buy long planks and saw them yourself with a circular saw or hand saw – but this requires precision.
A more simple solution for a DIY project is to buy planks that use a tongue and groove system. These pre-cut planks snap together and may or may not be installed over underlayment materials.
Both laminate and bamboo flooring are considered DIY friendly, with snap systems that nix the nails.
Popularity always fluctuates, but someone concerned with staying up to date– or potentially selling their home–it may be a factor to consider. In terms of availability, there really is not a large enough discrepancy between bamboo vs laminate flooring to note.
Bamboo flooring, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, is continuing to enjoy popularity in 2021, and that popularity is projected to continue for at least a few more years, if not many more. Bamboo flooring is seen as stylish, modern, and unique. Many also laud it as being more environmentally friendly.
Bamboo flooring first came to the main commercial market in the 1990s. Interestingly, not many were sold on it at the time. However, it’s slowly gained traction and now is seen as a modern alternative to the many types of hardwood flooring. You will find bamboo flooring in many homes today.
Laminate flooring was introduced to the main commercial market about a decade earlier than bamboo flooring, in the 1980s, and gained the most traction in the ’90s – while bamboo flooring was considered more of a novelty. Laminate flooring became popular for its low cost and easy installation. While it remains a somewhat popular option, it’s maintained relatively with the influx of more durable and eco-friendly options, much of which were introduced in the 2010s.
Both bamboo and laminate are readily available, and still fairly popular. However, bamboo flooring is still considered to be a bit more on the rise in terms of popularity. Laminate is widely used, of course, so this is a close call.
Styles and Variety
Styles for both bamboo and laminate flooring are vast– you’ll have a wide selection of styles to suit nearly every room. Engineered bamboo and laminate flooring tend to be fairly uniform from plank to plank– allowing for a polished but slightly less natural appearance.
Bamboo flooring generally falls in one of six categories: solid strand – tongue and groove or click-lock; an engineered strand -tongue and groove or click and lock; engineered core-click and lock, engineered strand- tongue and groove, and classic bamboo-tongue and groove.
Core click and groove are both terms that refer to how the bamboo flooring is installed. Tongue and groove bamboo is typically glued down, like laminate flooring, though it is possible to nail it down. Click and groove is common and requires snapping pieces together.
Solid stand, engineered, and classic bamboo flooring most greatly differ in terms of durability and upkeep.
Laminate flooring has a bit less distinction– and more to do with appearance – for the basic categories most are acquainted with.
These include: smooth laminate flooring (which mimics marble or ceramic or polished wood); embossed laminate flooring (includes grains and patterns) and hand-scraped laminate flooring (a more traditional or even antique look, with notable textures). You can also opt for everything from matte to high levels of gloss.
Installation types include glueless click, glued laminate, and pre-glued.
There are some waterproof and eco-friendly options, as well as different durability ratings.
Both bamboo and laminate have countless options for style and even a few options for the installation type. One could argue that laminate has a few more unique options in terms of patterns or textures, but it depends on what kind of look you’re going for.
Durability & Lifestyle
We all want to know that our flooring will be worth the investment– but it does depend on your lifestyle to a degree as well. Consider pets, children, and how much traffic of an area you’re trying to add flooring for.
For a less used room, you can get by with a less durable option– but you should be honest with yourself as to how heavily used the room will be, and how well it will be taken care of.
Bamboo flooring ranges in durability depending on what type of bamboo flooring you select. If you opt for high-quality flooring, it can be just as durable as hardwood flooring – and even more so, depending on the type of wood being used.
While I’m still generalizing, bamboo flooring can be harder than some hardwood, and easily refinished. It is important to note that bamboo is vulnerable to cracks under humidity. It is a little more water-resistant than hardwood, but neither scratch-proof or fully waterproof.
Your most durable option for bamboo flooring is solid strand bamboo, especially with a tongue and groove installation. High-quality solid strand bamboo flooring is as much as three times harder than oak flooring, can easily be refinished for as many as five times, and is a great option if you have pets, kids, and/or are using in a high traffic area, like a kitchen.
High-quality bamboo flooring can last around 25 years.
Laminate flooring has certainly improved over time. Some newer and more expensive options offer greater water resistance. However, even top-quality laminate flooring does not hold up well in moist areas, like bathrooms or laundry rooms. Unlike bamboo flooring, laminate flooring cannot truly be refinished.
One plus to laminate flooring is that it doesn’t scratch easily, and in this way, can be suited to general use areas for light to medium, everyday wear. In a way, it does better than some softer wood flooring in this way.
Like bamboo flooring, laminate flooring varies depending on quality. Low-cost laminate flooring can easily wear – and keep in mind that you’ll need to have it entirely replaced. Consider also an eco-friendly option – these options avoid some potentially concerning chemicals used in cheaper varieties.
Most laminate flooring can be expected to last 10 years, or up to 15 years if lightly used and well kept.
Bamboo is the clear winner when it comes to durability and lifestyle considerations. High-quality bamboo can last up to 10 years longer vs laminate flooring; can hold up better with some moisture, and can also be refinished, saving you the hassle (and money) of replacing it entirely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Most of the disadvantages to bamboo flooring will become more apparent if you opt for the cheapest option. Some of the main cons to bamboo flooring include scratches and dents, and troubling ingredients in cheap adhesive.
Humidity can also cause damage– all things to keep in mind when selecting the best bamboo flooring for your next DIY home improvement project, or even if you plan on hiring a professional.
Answer: Bamboo flooring doesn’t really do much to add to your home’s value. While it may be an affordable and durable option for one of your projects by area, it shouldn’t be seen as a way to add overall value to your home.
Final Decision & Where to Buy
While laminate flooring has improved and could be an affordable option for a less used room or a small home improvement makeover, I most recommend bamboo flooring for overall value. Bamboo flooring is more durable, has more installation options, and is a better investment.
Bamboo flooring and laminate flooring are available widely but if you want a wide selection, plus the option for professional installment, I recommend either Lowe’s or Home Depot.