Strand woven bamboo flooring products are the result of combining strands of split and crushed bamboo fibres. The long strands are woven together, compressed and stabilized with resins and adhesives using one of two different manufacturing processes. Hot press bamboo is produced in large sheets, oven-baked at approximately 130°C for up to an hour, placed under pressure and left to rest for one day. This makes it a much faster process and is; therefore, less expensive to produce which enables factories to make it on a mass scale.
Strand woven bamboo flooring produced with hot pressed method has a rating of 2500-2800 psi on the Janka scale. This means that it can withstand 2500-2800 pounds of extreme force before twisting. Cold pressed flooring has a Janka scale rating of 2500 psi, which is lower than that of hot pressed flooring but is still considerably higher than most other hardwoods on the scale.
The moisture content of the cold pressed can be as high as 12%, which can cause cupping, buckling and warping of the floor. The flooring produced with the hot pressed method contains 8% moisture. Thus, hot pressed strand woven bamboo flooring continues to perform well in the moisture-prone rooms of your home such as kitchen and bathroom.
The main benefits of hot press bamboo are its superior board strength and ability to offer a colour variation. Each board is cut from a large sheet with the click system then carved out, so the end product remains one solid board without joins, and is therefore, substantially stronger. The hot press method cannot control appearance which results in variations in colour on the finished boards. While some may see this as inconsistent and therefore a negative point, when combined together, this variation in colour can give a more natural tone to the floor.
The main drawback of hot press bamboo is its reduced ability to maintain consistent density and moisture content. As the hot press method involves oven-baking the large strand woven sheets at a high temperature for a short period of time, this process draws the natural moisture in the bamboo out leaving the finished product with considerably lower moisture content. Bamboos and timbers cannot come in contact with excess water as it will result in the boards cupping and warping as it dries out. A product that has low moisture content will seek and absorb water/moisture quicker than those with high moisture content. Hot press bamboo flooring has lower moisture content than that of cold press bamboo flooring. While this is a setback that needs to be considered or at least be highlighted, it is not something that will greatly affect the life of your floor.
Whether the moisture content is low or high, spills and excess moisture will have the same impact. If spills are cleaned promptly and excess moisture is avoided, the choice of hot press or cold press falls back to a choice of preference.
Cold press bamboo is produced in large blocks (using moulds), oven baked at room temperature for up for 20 hours, placed under pressure and left to rest for approximately 14 days. This makes it a much slower process and is, therefore, more expensive to produce reducing factories abilities to make mass quantities.
The main advantages of cold press bamboo are its ability to maintain consistent appearance and its superior board stability. The cold press method allows greater control over colour variation and, therefore, results in a consistent appearance in both the tone and finish. The longer production time also allows the resins and adhesives to penetrate the strand woven bamboo thoroughly, resulting in a more stable product. The main drawback of cold press bamboo is its weaker board strength. Within the manufacturing process, the click-system is joined to the solid panel, therefore, creating a ‘weak spot’ on the board. This weak spot is prone to cracking and, while it is not something you will notice on purchase or installation of the flooring, throughout the seasons as the floor expands and contracts this spot will become increasingly susceptible to cracking and splitting. As the floor ages, more care will need to be taken with the arrangement of heavy furniture as to not exaggerate any further weakening along the boards.
In summary, the negatives of hot press bamboo are outweighed by its benefits and do not present enough of a problem to need to eliminate it as an option. Hot press bamboo is recommended when board strength and colour variation are more important. While cold press bamboo is recommended when consistent colour appearance and board stability are more of a preference, consumers must be aware of the weaker board strength that brings with it potential risk of damage.
While keeping the manufacturing process in mind; the additional issues of coating systems, colour range, warranties, service, emissions ratings and product reliability will all contribute just as significantly to and in the product selection process. Not all bamboo is the same and not all companies sell the same bamboo products and, therefore, careful consideration and research should be done into all areas of the products rather than just the one area of manufacturing.
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