Flat Grain and Edge Grain Products Explained

Bamboo flooring: strand explained

Plyboo manufactures a variety of bamboo flooring, plywood and paneling, but when it comes right down to it, what we offer are versions of flat grain, edge grain and strand bamboo.

We’ll get to strand in another article, but for now let’s differentiate between flat grain and edge grain bamboo. These types of bamboo flooring and plywood differ in appearance with flat grain having a more pronounced bamboo look, while edge grain has a more of a wood grain appearance.

After bamboo is harvested and trucked to the factory, it is cut lengthwise into long, rectangular strips.  The strips are three times as wide as they are thick, about ¾ inch wide by ¼ inch thick.

The laminator uses high pressure and varying amount of adhesives to bind the bamboo strips together. If the edges of the bamboo are laminated together, the wider side of the bamboo, the flat grain, will be the face of the board.  If the wide side of the bamboo is laminated together, then the edge will be the face of the board, what we call edge grain.

Often a sheet of plywood or flooring will have another ply of bamboo laminated to the edge grain or flat grain board. The board will be identified by whatever grain shows on the surface of the board.  In other words, what you see is what you get.

Flat grain will show the node  - the part that looks like the bamboo’s knuckle – much more prominently. The node is visible in edge grain bamboo, but since it is an edge view, the appearance is much more muted.

It’s a personal choice which type you choose.  Indeed, you might like flat grain in one room and edge grain in another, or both in the same room.   

As for the color, both types are available in natural or amber.  Natural, as the name implies, is the natural, untreated color of the bamboo.  Amber, of course, is a deeper, richer color. The color is not derived from additives, but rather from the application of heat, which cooks the sugars in the bamboo, giving it a brownish color. That’s why the culinary term caramelized is sometimes used to describe the color of this bamboo.

Take a look.  If you can see the grain in the flooring or paneling, then you are looking at either flat grain or edge grain, if not, you’re most likely looking at strand.

We’ll take a look at strand bamboo in the next article.


Photos: Top: Flat Grain Amber   Bottom:  Edge Grain Amber