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Hi, I wanted to send a thank you. I have ordered from your company twice. This last time was nothing huge, just a vent cover, but we are slowly putting in bamboo throughout ou...

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  • Not All Bamboo Products Are the Same

    Not All Bamboo Products Are the Same

    At Higuera Hardwoods, we always encourage our customers to do their research for any bamboo products they are looking to purchase.

    Bamboo products are no different than many other hardwood products on the market today.  Low quality products are often sold by small importers with one small shipment at a time as well as large corporations bringing in enormous shipments.  Both have the objective of selling inferior bamboo cheaply.  Look for high quality bamboo products that are being sold by reputable specialized companies like Higuera Hardwoods for quality.

    It is very important to research companies and products prior to purchasing and one of the easiest ways to get feedback from real consumers is to do a web search.  By looking for a company name and including the words “bamboo problems” you will be able to view blogs and consumer websites containing information about negative experiences with companies providing sub-quality bamboo.  Finding no such articles regarding companies supplying bamboo may indicate the company is reputable and has a quality product.  We encourage you to search Higuera Hardwoods when researching online as we have a proven history of high customer satisfaction.

    It is safe to say there is a fair amount of bamboo building material being sold today that would be considered low quality when compared to Higuera Hardwoods.  There are many consequences of buying inferior quality bamboo products such as an easily dented material, a soft finish, warping/cupping and substandard milling resulting in a material that does not fit together properly.  To experience just one of the above problems common with an inferior quality bamboo product would cause most individuals to be disillusioned and unhappy with bamboo products.  Be assured that if the materials come from a quality source, these negative scenarios do not have to occur.

    When buying bamboo products, it is important to ensure that the manufacturers are utilizing high-quality raw materials.  A great deal of marketing has been done promoting the hardness and durability of the Moso bamboo species.  Most of the information is accurate, but not all Moso bamboo is the best raw material for bamboo products.  For Moso to be superior quality, it must be mountain grown, 5 to 6 years old, properly treated for coloring, inspected for organisms.  It must also be stripped and accurately milled into material to be laminated and then kiln dried.  Several companies use the specie name Moso in their sales literature but unfortunately they maybe uninformed by the manufacturer that this “Moso” product was grown in the swampy flats of China rather than the mountainous regions material with its constant water runoff from the rain.  Additionally, it may not be treated properly by kiln drying, nor color inspected, creating the problems associated with a low-quality product.

     

    After the raw bamboo materials are selected, they must be treated for natural micro-organisms in the bamboo.  To achieve a natural colored bamboo (the lighter color); bamboo stripes are boiled in large vats that are treated with a non-toxic substance to ensure all of these strips are free of all organisms.  The carbonized material (the carmel color) is acquired by putting the bamboo strips in a large auto clave type oven to a temperature that converts the sugars and organic matter to the final carmel like coloring.  The cooking time and color transformation must be carefully monitored to avoid over cooking which will create a very soft product, useless for most quality applications. Please be aware that if a carbonized product is a very dark color, it can be unsuitable for flooring as this material will be soft and prone to denting.  For those preferring a darker color, reputable companies providing high-quality bamboo products will offer a stained bamboo that does not rely on the carbonizing process to achieve this rich, dark shade. 

    Once the treatment and/or carbonizing process is completed, it is critical that the strips be kiln dried to attain the proper humidity level in the strips before the laminating process proceeds.  There are many companies that do not kiln dry the material at this stage due to soaring energy costs and sometimes nonexistent energy in China.  These companies will air dry the material which, of course creates an inferior product with many future problems.  Higuera Hardwoods always kiln dries our materials.

    If a company does not have a high quality control level, you may see a vast color difference in their products.  It is very important that each bamboo strip is color matched as they are being laid out to be pressed and/or laminated into the bamboo product planks.  Human touch and supervision is required during this process to be certain the material is properly placed.  Many manufacturers that choose to cut costs will not take the needed attention at the laminating stage of the process to ensure the strips are color matched.  If there are mismatched or improperly milled strips laid in the press, large voids can occur, resulting in a poor quality product.  There is often a lack of consistency in the lamination lines in the lower grade material.  Often, angles in the laminate layers exist as well as other problems.

    The next stage of the bamboo production is very important to Higuera Hardwoods.  After the bamboo strips are laminated, we insist upon an additional stage of kiln drying that brings the moisture content down to approximately six percent.  The secondary kiln drying stage is critical to the stability of the bamboo product.  If you mill or shape a bamboo product that is high in moisture content, it will have high failure probability by cupping, warping or splitting in the future.  Always keep in mind that bamboo is very similar to other hardwoods in that if the humidity is too low in its levels for extended periods of time in the installed environments, the results are problematic.

    After this stage of kiln drying is completed, the bamboo planks are milled into the final product. This can be flooring, mouldings or hundreds of other products.  There is a vast array of differences in the manufacturing machinery utilized in China, varying from low-grade, inexpensive units, to the European machines made with superior engineering ideal for high quality milling.  The details during the milling process are extremely important and unfortunately several manufacturers focus solely on production speed.  This can cause poorly milled boards that have “chatter” on the tongue and groove or even boards that are not straight down the edges.  To be appropriately manufactured, precise supervision and suitable speed is essential.  It never has a positive outcome if there is more focus on production speed than quality. 

    There should be two anti-cupping notches in the bottom of solid bamboo flooring boards including strand woven (not engineered).  These notches are milled into the flooring boards on the bottom to safeguard the stability of product (no cupping, no warping) under a variety of environmental conditions.  These notches also assist in the glue-down installations, giving a much better bonding point for the flooring adhesives.  Always look at the bottom of the flooring board for noticeable anti-cupping channels.  Many companies have very shallow and less effective anti-cupping channels in the bottom, resulting in a less than ideal material.

    Any solid bamboo products with rolling waves in the core of the flooring board can be problematic as this reveals a poor quality board.  The laminating lines in the bamboo strips must be straight and with very little gapping or cracking between bamboo layers.  When you look at the end of the board after cutting it, the material should not have consistent gaps, cracks or waves in the laminate material.

    An excellent finish coating material for the prefinished bamboo is an utmost priority to Higuera Hardwoods. One of the easiest ways to check prefinished bamboo flooring for durability is to simply use a fingernail test.  Drag your fingernail over the finish and press into it.  If dents or marks appear, it is most probably a flooring board that will not hold up to Higuera Hardwoods finish requirements.  When inspecting the finish, hold the board up to light to look for “orange peel” roughness on the finish indicating a sign of inferior quality materials.  A good finish will be smooth and strong enough to withstand everyday use within product parameters.

    Please also keep in mind, a fortune does not have to be paid for high quality materials.  There are companies that spend a great deal of money marketing their material and pass that expense to the consumer.  Higuera Hardwoods stocks a full line of the finest grade-A bamboo flooring, mouldings, stair parts, plywood and veneers.  We are confident that the quality of our raw materials and the careful processing procedures we use make the construction and finish of our bamboo products superior to others on the market.  Higuera Hardwoods also stands out amongst other companies in our customer service.  We welcome requests for free samples, allowing you to see our product firsthand.

    We hope this information will assist you in making an educated decision about your bamboo products.  Please feel free to contact us anytime if we can further assist you.

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