Hardwood vs engineered vs bamboo vs ???

SusieQusie60May 11, 2011

OMG - the more research I do the harder this darn choice becomes!!! When I made the decision that I wanted to go with "wood" for my new kitchen's floor, I had no idea there were going to be so many different (and confusing) choices. Can't anything be simple in this process?!?!?

I found this engineered wood I really love. My husband loves the "look" of it, but isn't crazy about getting something that isn't really "hardwood." (He's been influenced by our builder - not a fan of the engineered stuff.)

I agreed to go with him (my husband, not the builder) to check out some more "stuff." We went to the local Lumber Liquidators to see what they had. Well, I found myself drawn to a lovely distressed bamboo - Morning Star - that looked beautiful. The price was right, we both liked it - it seemed like a match made in heaven.

So, I come home and of course do some research, and I find some pretty nasty reviews of Morning Star bamboo - formaldehyde smell, poor finish, blah, blah, blah. My husband was very disappointed when I filled him in on what I'd read.

At this point I'm thinking of going back to my original engineered hardwood choice. When I posted about it earlier (in my post about engineered versus hardwood) the opinions didn't really seem that one-sided...most people had a preference but seemed to think that either would actually work depending on our exact needs. I guess maybe I'm not really "asking" much here as much as just venting. I'm sort of tired of every single decision taking so many trips to so many different stores!! I mean really, like nothing has just been simple. I know I'm being a little whiney but I'm tired and cranky. I'm assuming I'll feel better in the morning.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to throw some helpful advice out there, I'm game. I'm looking for a wide plank, relatively dark, distressed wood (with those black "wormholes"). I want to pay in the $5/sq. ft. range. I have a 15 pound dog, and a kitty who has been declawed (sorry PETA fans) and 2 grown kids. The appearance of the floor is what is most important to me. Already being quite over budget, $ is also up there in the concern department. That's about it...

Vent/post now done. SQ :-O

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OK - I have to tell you to read reviews of any product that you are considering. I thought about getting Bellawood from Lumber Liquidators (LL), until I read a billion reviews from sad and angry people who installed it. I can't remember if I already posted that we are getting Colonial Craft Owens Flooring. Maybe I meant to post it on one of your earlier posts but got sidetracked - anyway, it's a good product with good reviews. Sorry if I already said that.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 10:45PM
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Adrienne - I don't remember reading it before, but thanks for posting your advice (even if it is twice - I'd rather see it 2X than not at all!!)

I think I'm at that point in my project where it's been going on for a while (not FOREVER - but weeks at least) and we're not seeing lots of exciting progress. Structural things are obviously super super important, but you don't really get that "Ahhhhhh" factor from seeing cabinets installed, or a sink, or faucet, or flooring or just about anything. How exciting are exposed 2x4's!!!!

Anywho - gonna think on it a little longer today. Do more research. Talk to hubby and builder. It will be fine. I'm quite sure I was definitely extra crabby and frustrated last night. Thanks - SQ

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:08AM
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I recently installed an engineered wood(hand scraped maple)in a great room. I can't help you with the cost because I know it was costly but I would advise you on the endurance of engineered re regular hardwood especially in a kitchen. The life cycle which you must know of engineered is about 25 years although I have heard it stated on another post that some are longer. I would seriously consider that for a kitchen even for resale purposes. I put it in a condo that is not used year round and it was easier to put that in since we were not there for the installation and could not be on site for the stain choice. I also loved the look. My husband could help with the cost factor(asleep) but we would have paid more since its in an area without competitive bidding.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 7:18AM
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I posted on your other thread, but we are very happy with our Somerset Flooring pre-finished floors. We did traditional 3/4" red oak to match the rest of the house, but they do have wider planks with different finishs. Google them and see if you have a dealer near you. Our local guy had the cheapest price. We paid $3.89/sq ft and DIY'd install.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 1:15PM
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I'm having the same concern. I originally went to lumber liquidators and found a nice hand scraped strand bamboo flooring. I then went online and researched a load of companies. So far, I like Cali bamboo. My biggest concern was the formaldehyde in the products. Cali bamboo has little to no formaldehyde added in there product. I've read those same reviews about Morning star, but they were outdated. I was emailed a material safety data sheet on Morning Star brand, but no one could tell me how much formaldehyde content was in the morning star product. At the bottom of the sheet there was a disclaimer:

"The information and data herein are believed to be accurate and have been compiled from sources deemed to be reliable. It is offered for your consideration, investigation and verification. Lumber Liquidators makes no warranty of any kind, express or implied, concerning the accuracy of completeness of the information and data herein. Lumber Liquidators will not be liable for claims relating to any party's use of or reliance on information and data contained herein regardless of whether it is claimed that the information and data are inaccurate, incomplete or otherwise misleading. It is incumbent upon the user to obtain the most up-to-date information".

So I guess what they mean is that the info on the safety data sheet is BS.

I'd like to know. Cali bamboo is great, but I actually prefer the hand scraped look they have from Morning Star at lumber liquidators. Does anyone know if Morning Stars 2011 line has added formaldehyde?? (That's the lovely odor you smell from the floors). I can't seem to be able to get a solid answer.

This is what the safety data sheet states for Morning Star:

3000 John Deere Road
Toano, VA 23168
Emergency phone: 1 800-HARDWOOD
Fax: 1 757 259 7295
IMPORTANT NOTICE: This material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is issued by LUMBER
LIQUIDATORS. LUMBER LIQUIDATORS flooring will issue a new MSDS when there is a
change in product specifications and/or regulations. LUMBER LIQUIDATORS will not accept
any responsibility for any change to its MSDS in content by other person or organization.
Product name: Prefinished Strand Bamboo Flooring
Trade name: Morning Star Bamboo Flooring
Other Names: Various
Manufacturer Information: Lumber Liquidators Inc
3000 John Deere Road
Toano, VA 23168
Tel: (757) 259-4280
Fax: (757) 259-7295
This product is composed of bamboo fibers bonded together with urea formaldehyde (UF) resins.
The fibers are mixed and pressed together to give a unique shade blend and increase hardness. The
wear layer is finished by 7 coats of polyurethane with aluminum oxide coating manufactured by
Treffert or Klumpp
UN number: Not applicable
Dangerous goods class: Not applicable
Product Use: Building Materials � Commercial or Residential
MSDS Morning Star Strand Bamboo Flooring,
Revision 3, April 2009 Page 2 of 7
Hazardous ingredients/identity information:
Name CAS
% Agency Exposure Limits Comments
Bamboo1 None 89-90 OSHA3
PEL5-TWA6 15 mg/m3
PEL-TWA 5 mg/m3
TLV7-TWA 3 mg/m3
TLV-STEL8 10 mg/m3
Total dust
Respirable dust fraction
Respirable dust fraction
Inhalable particles
Urea Formaldehyde resin
10-11 OSHA
PEL-TWA 0.75ppm
PEL-STEL 2 ppm
TLV - Ceiling 0.3 ppm
Free gaseous formaldehyde
(contains less than 0.1%
free formaldehyde)
UV Finish
Polymerized polyurethane
None 0-1 OSHA
PEL-TWA none
TLV-TWA none
1 CAS # = Chemical Abstract System. 2 OSHA = Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 3 AGCIH = American
Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists. 4 PEL = Permissible Exposure Limit. 5 TWA = Time Weighted Average.
6 TLV = Threshold Limit Value. 7 STEL = Short Term Exposure Limit
Note: Bamboo is a member of the grass family which has distinct anatomical differences from that
of wood. Therefore, bamboo would be regulated as an organic dust in a category known as
"Particulates Not Otherwise Regulated" (PNOR), or Nuisance Dust by OSHA. The ACGIH
classifies dust or particulate in this category as "Particulates Not otherwise Specified".
Physical data:
Physical State: Solid
Boiling Point: Not applicable
Freezing Point: Not applicable
Specific Gravity: 0.58 g/ml
Vapour Density: Not applicable
% Volatiles By Volume: 0
Melting Point: Not applicable
Vapour Pressure: Not applicable
Percent Moisture 5% - 9%
Solubility in H20 (% by wt.): Evaporation Rate (Butyl Acetate = 1): Not applicable
pH: Not applicable
MSDS Morning Star Strand Bamboo Flooring,
Revision 3, April 2009 Page 3 of 7
Appearance and odor: Bamboo fibers mixed creating a shade blend unique
to each plank (light yellows for natural, light browns
for carbonized or a mix of lights yellows and light
browns shades). This product can also be stained
with various colors. Low-fuming urea formaldehyde
resins have a slightly aromatic odor.
Fire and explosion data:
Flash Point: Not applicable
Auto ignition Temperature:
Not available, however, it is usually accepted that the
ignition of bamboo begins when the temperature
reaches 204-260�C (400�500�F).
(Depends upon duration of exposure to heat source
and other variables).
Explosive Limits in Air: Not applicable. See below under "Unusual fire
and explosion hazards"
Extinguishing Media
Water, Carbon dioxide, Dry chemical, Sand.
Special Fire Fighting Procedures
Unusual Fire and Explosion
Sawing, sanding or machining can produce bamboo
dust as a by-product which may present an explosion
hazard if a dust cloud contacts an ignition source. An
airborne concentration of air is often used as the LEL
for bamboo dust.
Reactivity data:
Conditions Contributing to Instability
Stable under normal conditions
Conditions to avoid Excessive moisture, condensation or water vapor;
Open flame or conditions above 400 F.
Avoid contact with oxidizing agents. Avoid open
flame. Product may ignite when temperature reaches
in excess of 204�C (400�F).
Hazardous Decomposition Products
Thermal and/or thermal oxidative decomposition can
produce irritating and toxic fumes and gases,
including carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide,
aldehydes, organic acids and polynuclear aromatic
Hazardous Polymerization Not applicable
MSDS Morning Star Strand Bamboo Flooring,
Revision 3, April 2009 Page 4 of 7
Carcinogenicity Listing:
(X) NTP1: Group 2, A & B
Formaldehyde, Wood dust
NTP-Group 2: Reasonably anticipated to be a
carcinogen. A) Limited evidence of carcinogenicity
from studies in humans which indicates that causal
relationship is credible. B) Sufficient evidence of
carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals
(X) IARC2 Monographs; Formaldehyde,
Group 2A, Wood dust, Group 1
IARC-Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans; sufficient
evidence of carcinogenicity. This classification is
primarily based on studies showing an association
between occupational exposure to wood dust and
adenocarcinoma of the nasal cavities and paranasal
(X) OSHA3 Regulated: Formaldehyde
IARC-Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans;
limited human evidence and sufficient evidence in
experimental animals. Studies of cancer incidence
among workers in a wide variety of occupations have
failed to convincingly show carcinogenic activity of
formaldehyde in humans. Gaseous formaldehyde has
been shown to cause cancer in certain laboratory
animals after long-term exposure to very high
concentrations (14+ ppm); concentrations which are
far above the levels of formaldehyde gas emitted
by this product.
1 NTP = National Toxicology Program
2 IARC = International Agency for Research on Cancer
3 OSHA = Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Exposure hazard:
Eye Contact
Wood dust can cause mechanical irritation such
redness and watering.
Skin Contact
Not applicable for this product in its purchased form,
however various species of wood dust may evoke
allergic contact dermatitis in sensitized individuals.
High concentrations of gaseous formaldehyde may
cause allergic contact dermatitis.
Not likely to occur under normal use. If ingested,
may cause gastrointestinal tract irritation.
MSDS Morning Star Strand Bamboo Flooring,
Revision 3, April 2009 Page 5 of 7
Not applicable for this product in its purchased form,
however, wood dust may cause nasal dryness,
irritation and obstruction. Coughing and sneezing;
sinusitis and prolonged colds have also been reported.
Wood dust, depending on species, may cause
respiratory sensitization and/or irritation. However,
gaseous formaldehyde may cause respiratory
difficulties for sensitized/allergic individuals.
Emergency and first aid procedures:
Flush eyes with large amounts of water. Remove to
fresh air. If irritation persists, get medical attention.
Wash affected areas with soap and water. Get
medical advice if rash or persistent irritation or
dermatitis occurs.
Although not applicable for this product in its
purchased form. However, if inhalation of bamboo
dust, remove to fresh air. Get medical advice if
persistent irritation, severe coughing or breathing
difficulty occurs.
Ingestion Not applicable under normal use.
Accidental Release Measures
Not applicable for product in purchased form. Dust
generated from sawing, sanding, drilling, or routing
of products may be vacuumed or shoveled for
recovery or disposal. Avoid dusty conditions and
provide good ventilation. A NIOSH-approved dust
respirator should be worn if dust exposure limits are
Handling and Storage
No special handling precautions are required for
products in purchased form. Keep in cool, dry place
away from open flame. This product will release
small quantities of gaseous formaldehyde (≤0.12
mg/m3, which is below the E1 classification in
accordance with EN 717-1:1998 test methods).
Store in well ventilated area.
MSDS Morning Star Strand Bamboo Flooring,
Revision 3, April 2009 Page 6 of 7
Personal Protective Equipment:
Respiratory Protection
Not applicable for product in purchased form. A
NIOSH-approved dust respirator is recommended
when allowable exposure limits are exceeded.
Protective Gloves
Not required. However, cloth, canvas, or leather
gloves are recommended to minimize potential
mechanical irritation slivers from handling and
machining product.
Eye Protection Not applicable for product in purchased form.
Goggles or safety glasses are recommended when
machining this product.
Other Protective Clothing or Equipments Not applicable for product in purchased form. Outer
garments may be desirable in extremely dusty areas.
Work/Hygiene Practices Follow good hygienic and housekeeping practices.
Clean up areas where wood dust settles to avoid
excessive accumulation of this combustible material.
Minimize blowdown or other practices that generate
high airborne-dust concentrations.
Local Exhaust Provide local exhaust as needed so that exposure
limits are met.
Special / other None
Disposal Consideration If disposed of or discarded in its purchased form,
incineration is preferable. Dry land disposal is
accepted in most states. It is, however, the user�s
responsibility to determine at the time of disposal
whether your product meets RCRA criteria for
hazardous waste. Follow applicable federal, state, and
local regulations.
Transport and Regulatory
Not regulated as hazardous material by the U.S
Department of Transportation and the Canadian
Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG).
Not a controlled product by WHMIS

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 2:19PM
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I am admittedly not a flooring expert by any means, but isn't engineered wood flooring real wood on top with plywood underneath, for dimensional stability?
With the type of floor you want - wide planks with a distressed finish, it seems that you are better off with an engineered wood floor.
The advantage of a solid wood site finished floor is that it can be refinished more times than an engineered wood floor. But the refinishing process would remove the distressed character that you like. The engineered floors have a much tougher finish on them - protecting that distressed look for you - than is available for site finished floors.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 3:49PM
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What terriks said is exactly true. Engineered does have real wood on top the thickness of which(I think) probably ties to the quality(price).

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 4:27PM
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The thickness of the wood layer on various engineered flooring varies greatly - I've seen some where it was very thin and some where the top layer went almost to the tongue and groove. The latter would be able to be refinished about as much as solid hardwood because once you get down to the tongue and grove (and nail heads) you can't refinish anymore.

BTW, the decision that one wants factory finished floors rather than site finished doesn't decide hardwood vs engineered. There are lines that have factory finished solid boards. Mirage for example. However, I think that the price is higher for the solid wood than the engineered.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 5:45PM
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Hopefully this "revived" thread can help someone else...I'm living (very happily) with my kitchen floor decision as we speak. A black sharpie is my new best friend. There is NOTHING I can't hide or fix on this floor. I think my engineered wood floor and I are going to have a very happy life together.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 9:54PM
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Glad to see this post and glad to see you made a great decision you are happy with SusieQusie60. It was not more than 2 months ago that I was in the same boat. Wanted solid hardwood, in wide-ish plank, something that wouldn't show everything, etc. I spent weeks researching and looking around and became quite frustrated as well. My GC moved on to another job while I was trying to make my decision. Ultimately resulted in like a month long delay for me.

There are so many horror stories out there about LL, incorrect installation, humidty issues, it's enough to scare most away from hw.

Ultimately, I ended up with Mirage hardwood. I read good things and the flooring stores were praising the manufacturer. Just as important though, they had the exact color and asthetic I was looking for. It was one of those few "that's the one" moments. They were rather expensive, but area is rather small so it wasn't as terrible a hit on the pocket book as it could have been. My GC ws really impressed with the look of the product aswell as the result but showed me a number of boards that were warped along both planes as well as a number with damaged or malformed tounges. I guess no manufacturer is immune.

I found with Mirage and many of the other manufacturers that once you get beyond a certain plank width, the material switches over to engineered. Obviously there is a good reason for this. It's more stable than hardwood. At least for most wood species. I found higer prices for engineered vs hardwood and I have found lower prices for engineered vs hardwood. Seems to vary between manufacturers.

So many things to be careful with hardwood too, moving the fridge, ladders, high heels, kids, pets. It's a full time commitment to protect it at least until the kitchen is completed!

There is no substitute for the beauty and warmth however. Makes it worth the pain.

As you said, I hope this post helps someone else.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 10:30PM
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We will be ripping out our ceramic tile floor this month and installing 3/4" hardwood when we do a remodel. We considered the engineered and did not dislike it just felt hardwood added more value to the house and we liked the fact it could be refinished more than twice. Another factor was that if we floated the engineered floor it would have impacted doors, etc.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 11:58PM
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