Bamboo Hardwoods Store sells: Bamboo everything: floors, fencing, furniture, even homes. It also sells pottery, lamps and accessories. Store basics: • Home...

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Bamboo Hardwoods

Store sells: Bamboo everything: floors, fencing, furniture, even homes. It also sells pottery, lamps and accessories.

Store basics:

• Home store: 6402 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle; 206-529-0978

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• Warehouse: 510 S. Industrial Way, Seattle; 206-264-2414

• A second home store is planned to open near the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle sometime this summer.

www.bamboohardwoods.com

Price range: Depends. From $20 for a clay pot to thousands of dollars for the most expensive bamboo floor. Bamboo-floor price range: 99 cents to $8 per square foot.

Who owns it? Doug Lewis of Seattle. Though he lives here, he travels often to Vietnam. He buys bamboo from Vietnam, China and Indonesia.

What’s unique? Lewis started Bamboo Hardwoods 10 years ago in Seattle. He saw it as a good way to have a positive impact on the environment. Bamboo is a sustainable, fast-growing, cost-effective alternative to cutting old-growth forests.

Lewis lived in Vietnam for four years, building a modern factory that produces a wide variety of bamboo products, from floors to furniture to kit houses.

A typical bamboo house kit, which the company so far has erected only in Hawaii, takes seven people three days to build.

The store also is launching a new furniture line called Loft, featuring functional, modern design. These stools, tables and chairs will be sold in Seattle this spring.

What’s functional? Bamboo is harder than many of the hardest hardwoods, including oak and maple. Many people like bamboo floors for their durability, though like any other wood, it can scratch and dent. The floors can be nailed down or “floated,” meaning the floor boards can be edge-glued together to “float” above concrete, plywood or radiant heat.

The store’s bamboo furniture is fun and functional. The bamboo fences, which are thick and weather well in rainy Seattle, are easy to install and come in 6-foot-tall, 8-foot-long rolls for $115. And if you plan to throw a summer party, don’t leave the store without some bamboo thatch to give it that tropical feel.

How does the store work? Customers can buy from the warehouse, the home store or both. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and customers can take home floor samples.

One thing customers should know: There isn’t just one type of bamboo, stresses Lewis. “People don’t understand that bamboo is analogous to wood flooring,” Lewis said. The store sells up to 30 types of floors from three species of bamboo.

iFLOOR Express

Store sells: Lots of bamboo floors, along with flooring in hardwood, laminate and cork. It also carries rugs.

Store basics:

• Located at 2920 First Ave. S., Seattle; 425-460-4775

www.ifloor.com

Price range: Varies. Small rugs start at $99. Higher-end bamboo flooring can cost several thousand dollars. Bamboo-floor price range: $1.99 to $6.39 per square foot.

Who owns it? Steve Simonson of Duvall. He began an online shop in 1999 to offer a lower-priced way for people to buy wooden and laminate floors. He opened the retail store in Seattle last year.

What’s unique? Simonson said iFLOOR Express is one of the largest bamboo importers in the country. Customers can save money by doing their own measurements and installation.

Simonson has just launched the Ming Dynasty line, imported from China. There’s a hand-scraped bamboo in rich red, green and charcoal tones (6 feet long and 6 inches wide, at $6.39 per square foot, and a smooth stained bamboo that comes in shades like red cognac, Irish moss and burnt mocha (3 feet long and 3 inches wide, at $4.49 per square foot).

What’s functional? Bamboo offers a cool, contemporary look that can be as durable as oak or maple, often without the high price tag. And it’s a grass that is environmentally superior to what typically has been used for wood flooring. In five to six years, the bamboo that was cut down to line your floor will grow from the root to a harvestable size.

iFLOOR Express sells a wide range of bamboo floors, from elegant tones to modern hues.

In addition to the stained floors, the store stocks three shades of light bamboo in natural colors. It also carries three types of carbonized bamboo, sometimes called “smoked or fumed.” Here, the bamboo is put in a boiler and cooked. The sugar is heated up, and it causes the bamboo to turn a brownish tone. It’s not a stain; it’s a chemical change.

How does the store work? Flooring can be bought in-store or online. The store has products that are easy to access, view and touch. The staff is friendly, and customers can take home floor samples.

One thing customers should know: Only a few of the hundreds of species of bamboo are used for flooring, but they’re not the ones giant pandas eat. And although the stalks grow quickly, there’s a lot of labor involved in making the floors.

“Every single plank has to be handled by a human about five times. It’s remarkably human-touch driven,” Simonson said. “[The bamboo] is harvested in China and manufactured there. As wages are not extraordinarily high, it keeps the product competitive.”

Colleen McBrinn, digs editor, and Judy Chia Hui Hsu, Seattle Times staff reporter

Window Shopping, a weekly feature in digs, takes readers into various stores around the Puget Sound area. Send us ideas at homegarden@seattletimes.com