The Truth About Bamboo Decking: Pros and Cons Revealed

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Understanding Bamboo Decking Benefits and Drawbacks

Bamboo decking has emerged as a promising alternative to traditional decking materials like wood and composite. With its combination of durability, good looks, and environmental benefits, bamboo is gaining traction in the outdoor decking world.

However, like any material, bamboo has its advantages and disadvantages. In this blog, New Jersey’s own Deck Guardian will help you explore the pros and cons of bamboo decking so you can make an informed decision about your next decking project.

What is Bamboo Decking?

Bamboo decking is made from bamboo, a type of grass that grows very quickly and can be harvested sustainably. It is processed into planks that can be used similarly to wood decking.

Unlike traditional wood, bamboo is known for its fast growth rate and renewable nature, making it eco-friendly. It is available in various forms, including:

  • Solid Bamboo: Solid bamboo decking is made from long, continuous lengths of bamboo that are laminated together under high pressure. This type of bamboo is highly durable and stable, making it suitable for outdoor applications.
  • Strand-woven bamboo: This form of bamboo is made from smaller bamboo fibers that are woven together and bonded with adhesives. While commonly used for indoor flooring, strand-woven bamboo is not typically recommended for outdoor use due to its sensitivity to moisture and temperature changes.
  • Composite Bamboo: Composite bamboo decking combines bamboo fibers with resins to create a product that offers enhanced durability and resistance to the elements. This type of bamboo decking is relatively new but shows promise for outdoor use.

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5 Pros of Bamboo Decking

Bamboo decking looks great and has several advantages, making it a top choice for decking material. Here’s a list of 5 qualities that make bamboo decking a stand out for decking materials:

1. It’s really durable.

  • Bamboo decking is incredibly dense and strong, often surpassing the hardness of traditional hardwoods like Ipe.
  • Bamboo is naturally resistant to insects and decay, making it a durable option for outdoor use.
  • Bamboo decking has a high fire resistance rating, adding an extra layer of safety to your outdoor space.

2. It’s environmentally friendly.

  • Bamboo can grow up to one to four inches per day and is ready for harvest within 3-5 years, compared to the 15-50 years for most hardwoods.
  • Bamboo absorbs four times as much carbon dioxide as hardwoods, contributing to reducing greenhouse gases.
  • Regular harvesting of bamboo does not kill the plant, allowing it to regenerate quickly.

3. It’s beautiful.

  • Bamboo decking offers a clear and consistent grain pattern, enhancing its visual appeal.
  • The surface of bamboo decking can be easily sealed and stained to match various design aesthetics.
  • Bamboo provides a modern, sleek appearance while maintaining a natural feel.

4. It’s easy to install.

  • Bamboo boards can be end-matched between joists, reducing waste and speeding up installation.
  • Due to consistent lengths, there is minimal material waste compared to random-length hardwoods.
  • Bamboo decking can be installed similarly to indoor flooring, making the process familiar to many contractors.

5. It’s cost-effective.

  • High-quality bamboo decking is often priced similarly to premium hardwoods like Ipe, but generally with less waste and material loss.
  • The ability to use cut-off ends reduces the overall cost of materials.

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Cons of Bamboo Decking

While bamboo decking offers numerous advantages, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks as well. Understanding the pros and cons will help you decide whether bamboo decking is right for your outdoor space. Here is a list of some cons to consider when evaluating bamboo decking.

1. It requires maintenance.

  • Bamboo decking and siding boards are manufactured to provide consistency, but they remain natural materials that age and fade to a light grey color over time, much like exotic hardwoods.
  • To maintain warranty validity, the boards must be end-sealed during installation with products such as Anchorseal and finished with penetrating oils like Penofin or Messmers. Although this maintenance is less demanding than that required for cedar or treated pine, preserving the decking’s appearance and durability is still necessary.

2. It has climate sensitivity.

  • Bamboo decking performs well in moderate climates, but it requires additional sealing and care in areas with extreme weather conditions—such as heavy rain, snow, or high humidity.
  • To protect bamboo decking in harsh climates, a good sealer must be applied on all six sides of the boards, and regular maintenance is essential to prevent moisture damage.

3. It has length limitations.

  • Bamboo decking typically comes in consistent 6-foot lengths with grooves on the ends of the boards, making it very easy to maneuver on the job site.
  • This uniformity allows for quick installation and minimizes waste, as the ends can be matched between joists, but it may not offer the design flexibility of longer, random-length hardwoods.

4. It can incur additional costs.

  • While bamboo is generally cost-effective, the actual cost can climb depending on the amount of material wasted. Designing the dimensions of a deck to maximize the efficiency of bamboo materials requires careful planning.
  • With hardwood and composite decking, random lengths often result in material waste. In contrast, bamboo’s consistent lengths help minimize waste, reducing the overall cost per foot, but it still necessitates thoughtful design to avoid excess expenses.

5. It depends on manufacturing quality.

  • The stability and durability of bamboo decking heavily rely on the quality of manufacturing and adhesives used. Poor-quality bamboo decking can suffer from delamination or adhesive failure over time.
  • It is important to choose bamboo decking from reputable suppliers with solid warranties and a proven performance record to ensure long-term reliability.

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Bamboo Decking Installation and Maintenance Tips

  • Proper spacing and ventilation. Ensure adequate spacing between bamboo deck boards to allow for ventilation and prevent moisture buildup.
  • End sealing: Use products like Anchorseal to seal the ends of bamboo boards during installation.
  • Regular cleaning. Keep the deck clean to prevent buildup that can cause damage.
  • Annual sealing. Apply penetrating oils like Penofin or Messmers annually to maintain the deck’s appearance and durability.
  • Inspect for damage: Regularly check for any signs of damage or wear and address them promptly.
  • Hire professional installers. Hiring professionals like our team at Deck Guardian ensures proper installation of this beautiful fabric. DIY is possible with careful attention to guidelines.

Environmental Impact of Bamboo Decking

If sustainability is important to you, bamboo decking is a really great option. Here are some reasons why:

  • Bamboo’s rapid growth rate makes it a highly sustainable resource.
  • Compared to hardwoods, bamboo has a significantly lower environmental footprint.
  • Choose bamboo decking from manufacturers who own and manage their bamboo farms responsibly.
  • Manufacturers like Dasso XTR ensure environmentally sustainable practices by managing their own bamboo farms.

Comparing Bamboo to Other Decking Materials

Bamboo decking may seem like a great option for homeowners across New Jersey, but the real question remains: How does it measure up to other popular decking materials?

Bamboo Vs. Composite Decking

  • Bamboo is lighter and easier to handle than composite decking.
  • Bamboo offers superior environmental benefits due to its rapid renewability.

Bamboo Vs. Hardwood Decking

  • Bamboo typically results in less material waste and offers competitive pricing.
  • Bamboo is easier to install and requires similar maintenance to hardwoods.

This comparison helps highlight bamboo decking’s advantages and how it stands out against other popular decking materials. Want to learn more about bamboo decking and its benefits? Contact Deck Guardian now to discuss your decking project and get a free estimate.

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Upgrade to Bamboo Decking with Deck Guardian

Bamboo decking offers a blend of durability, aesthetic appeal, and environmental benefits, making it a compelling choice for outdoor decking. However, it also comes with considerations such as climate suitability and maintenance requirements. By weighing the pros and cons, you can determine if bamboo decking is the right fit for your outdoor space. With proper installation and care, bamboo decking can provide a beautiful, sustainable, and long-lasting addition to your home.

If you’re considering bamboo decking for your next project, explore the options available and consult with professionals to ensure you choose the best material for your needs. Contact Deck Guardian for expert advice and installation services to transform your outdoor space with the beauty and sustainability of bamboo decking.

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