Ordinary horizontal bamboo flooring looks like pressed bamboo, despite any staining or other surface treatments. The coloration might say walnut or oak, but the patterning definitely says bamboo since the bamboo’s culm (stalk) and distinctive nodes (similar to knuckles) are visible.
Yet anyone purchasing strand woven bamboo flooring and expecting that their floor will look like bamboo might be disappointed. Early in the production process, the bamboo loses its iconic look.
Bamboo is used as a source product much in the same way that wood pulp makes particle board or crushed minerals make quartz countertops. The bamboo is not stripped in recognizable form and laminated. Instead, it is machine-shredded to pull out and isolate its strong fibers. Steel hydraulic presses then press these fibers, and they are subjected to heat until they form extremely dense logs. Once these logs are cured, they can be milled and fabricated.
San Francisco-based Smith & Fong introduced Chinese bamboo flooring to the U.S. market in 1991. A decade later, the company introduced strand woven bamboo flooring. They call strand woven bamboo flooring “an entirely new bamboo aesthetic” because it moves beyond that traditional bamboo look that attracted so many buyers in the 1990s and 2000s. Strand woven bamboo can be turned not just into floorboards but other building materials such as plywood.