I have to tell you how we decided which space to rent when we were in the planning stages of our bookshop (for those who don’t know we owned and operated Zeeba Books for four years). It was the floor. Not completely obviously. The location was the most important item to explore and to be honest in hindsight we could have selected a much stronger location for the bookshop. Rent and size were also considerations but what was really important was the overall feeling of coziness and charm. We had an idea about creating a terrific 3rd place, where folks could come and chill, unwind and spend a few hours. The floor was important. Although this particular story is about strand woven bamboo flooring, our floor was in fact a terra cota tile. But the main point is the same. The ambiance of the place was crucial and I felt that it started with the floor.
Linoleum or cheap tile can give a very impersonal, industrial and cold feeling when you first walk into a space. I know this first hand as I also bootstrapped the opening of a bar and cheap tile was exactly what we had. As soon as cashflow made an appearance we changed to a strand woven bamboo floor and were thrilled. I had doubts whether a bamboo floor could stand up to the nightly punishment of a bar crowd. This is why I think it would make the ideal floor for a bookstore. Strong, beautiful, ultra resistant to scuffs (they have seven layers or protective coating over most of the models we looked at.
Now this is meant for the few folks that are in the planning stages of their bookshop and may come across a nice space that needs floor work. We don’t want existing stores to start moving around thousands of books to redo a floor (just imagine the labor). The problem with a bookshop is that for reasons just mentioned, once you select a flooring you really need to have confidence in it as you’ll be keeping it most likely forever. Strand woven bamboo flooring should be one of your top considerations, along with a classic oak floor. Don’t consider a floating floor, it won’t stand up to the abuse.
Here are a few ecological reasons to consider strand woven bamboo flooring. First bamboo is like a wonder plant. It’s just about the king of woods for two simple reasons. The stuff grows like crazy because it is actually a type of grass and not a tree. Bamboo will be fully mature in about seven years compared to a typical tree used in flooring systems, like oak, which can take upwards of fifty years to mature. And Bamboo is hard, very hard. Keep in mind, bamboo is not some new, untested product. It has been used in Asia for a very long time. Final note on the ecological, feel good motives for considering strand woven bamboo flooring, oxygen. Bamboo does a much better job of making oxygen than typical trees that are used for flooring materials. Not to say that your floor will be producing oxygen but the plantations that grow bamboo are doing more to clean the air than other hardwood forest managers.
Installation of strand woven bamboo flooring is a snap. With high precision German milling each piece is identical. It can be installed any way that you or your contractor like. It can go down like a traditional tongue and groove floor or it can be floated and only nailed on the edges.
Why strand woven and not just a regular bamboo floor? When bamboo is cut and boiled it removes all the sugar so that when the boards are actually put together they end up being considerably stronger than regular bamboo (which already is a quite hard wood). So by going with this type you are saving money, getting a stronger floor, helping the environment and did I mention they look gorgeous? After all, you are trying to create an appealing space. Your visitors may not notice the flooring but they will note the feel of the place. That about wraps it up, just another tip to help you create and run a world class bookshop. Save some money and have a great looking floor for your book store. Bamboo is a great option.