Strand Sense

Strand Sense

Competition in strand bamboo means quality products and competitive pricing from many manufacturers

Not long ago, we would have told you that there were just a few reliable brands and several hard-and-fast rules to follow when choosing a strand bamboo floor.

But as sales of strand, stained and hand-scraped styles have soared and now dominate in the bamboo flooring category, it’s difficult for any manufacturer to claim leadership.  A number of companies now supply strand products that in some markets have become more visible than those introduced about a decade ago by industry pioneers.

Strand from Mohawk Flooring

Despite a level of competition that has lowered prices, there apparently is room for more. Hefeng – a strand manufacturer – is the latest company to announce the opening of its U.S. operation that will sell EcoFusion strand bamboo. Hefeng USA, interestingly, has employed a past CEO of EcoTimber – a bamboo pioneer that offers FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified bamboo flooring.

Adding to shifting perceptions and sales is last year’s reorganization of pioneer Teragren LLC. Teragren arch-rival  Smith & Fong Plyboo, also a pioneer, remains a leading bamboo innovator, despite past distractions of successfully defending a lawsuit by Teragren, which claimed it owned the U.S. patent rights to solid strand bamboo flooring.

But the pioneers’ presence in flooring stores varies widely. And right along with them are names like Mohawk, USFloors, Green Choice, Bella Cera, Bamboo Fusion and more.

Despite all the names, there are still some points you can use to guide your selection of a reliable floor. These include:

—  The product’s warranty, and your retailer’s experience with the product. Is the product made with a cold-press or hot-press process, and what assurance does the manufacturer offer that these processes have been followed correctly?

—  Does the manufacturer provide information on how to test the moisture content in its strand products? You likely will not get an accurate moisture meter reading without this information and it is important.

— Does the manufacturer provide indoor air quality testing results for chemical emissions from its finish and adhesives, and if so, what are they? Mohawk, for example, lists compliance with E1 standards, Plyboo and Teragren tout FloorScore certification, … . If the manufacturers don’t have this information on their websites, they’re simply not in the game.

Even with satisfactory answers to all of these questions, today’s market means you also should get a competitive price. The days of paying a premium for the perception of strand brand supremacy are over.©

Nancy Kibbee is editor at www.naturalinteriors.com

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