I got different answers from different contractors and I am so confused now. Some said this is hardwood, and some said this is bamboo. If is it wood, is it possible to tell what kind of wood is this? Can you really tell by eye what kind of floor is this?

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    A person who works with wood a lot, or is in the flooring business, should be able to tell you what it is simply by looking (or at least have a good guess). The grain pattern is one of the most notable characteristics used to determine species. From my limited knowledge, based purely on the grain I'd say this is not Bamboo.
    – Tester101
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 14:10
  • Definitely not bamboo. Could be some species of solid hardwood, some species of engineered hardwood, or laminate.
    – iLikeDirt
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 14:17
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    Looks like engineered maple.
    – Edwin
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 14:23
  • That is NOT bamboo. Doesn't really look like Oak, could possibly be Maple... Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 15:06
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    @tester101, The grain pattern looks like a veneer, like what they put on plywood. Also, the pieces are really tight against each other, like some engineered products, and the edges look too sharp to be solid wood. Could be wrong, so I didn't answer.
    – Edwin
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 17:07

3 Answers 3


That is maple. Plain old, flat sawn rock maple. There's no way to tell from the pictures if its engineered or solid but if you knock on it the sound will tell you. Solid sounds very dull, like knocking on a sidewalk. Engineered hardwood, even if its installed very well, sounds a bit hollow. You might not notice it when you walk across the room but if you tap on it with your wedding ring you'll know. I might suggest not contracting with the guy that thought that was bamboo because apparently he doesn't know what either bamboo or maple looks like, which is not a great sign.

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    How do you know this person is married? Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 19:53

Looking at different images may help you determine the species. Keep in mind I'm not a wood expert, and wood being a natural material will vary widely.


Oak tends to have a bold tight grain

Oak grain


Ash tends to have a bold semi-tight grain.

Ash grain


Hickory tends to have a more subtle longer grain.

Hickory grain


Maple tends to have a subtle semi-tight grain.

Maple grain


Bamboo tends to have a long straight tight grain.

Bamboo grain

The next question is to determine if it's solid, engineered, or locking. The best way to figure this out, is to look at the ends of a plank.


If it's solid, it will look like a solid block of wood.

Solid Hardwood


If it's engineered, it will look like the edge of a plywood sheet (a bunch of thin layers of wood).

Engineered Hardwood


Locking will tend to be thinner, look more like Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) or plywood from the side, and will have a funny looking tongue that locks with the adjacent plank.


  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the easiest way to identify bamboo is to look for a somewhat regular pattern where the grain seems to be "broken up" at intervals of 8" or so. The picture doesn't really show it, but all the samples of bamboo I've seen have such a pattern.
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 15:45
  • Don't know that much about bamboo, but I think the distance between "knots" depends on each seasons growth. If the "knots" are too uniform, I would suspect it's a printed pattern on locking flooring. Part of the beauty of real wood, is the lack of uniformity in the grain.
    – Tester101
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 16:02
  • If you look at the Wikipedia page on bamboo, you'll notice that the bamboo stems (also called culms) have ring-like structures around the perimeter. It is those ring-like structures that create the pattern I was talking about.
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 16:11
  • I agree. But I think the distance between the rings depends on the growth pattern. I could be wrong, since I don't know much about bamboo.
    – Tester101
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 16:14
  • I wouldn't expect the pattern to be precisely regular in natural bamboo, though I have no idea how much variation is normal. My point is that that each bamboo floorboard will have multiple places along its length where the grain is broken up by the rings in a way which is totally unlike any kind of wood I've seen.
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 16:22

Flat sawn (note the cathedral pattern), but more than that? Meh. Likely maple, but there are a bunch of central / south american woods that are cheap and similar in appearance.

Definitely not bamboo, which is a monocot, and has a distinctive appearance.

  • Breaking out some biology! Nice work busting out 'monocot' on us! Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:22

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