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Is Bamboo Flooring Suitable For Kitchens?

Can you install bamboo flooring in a kitchen?

That’s a question that we get a lot! Due to it's high level of dent-resitance, ability to handle water and moisture well (it is a tropical grass), and durability under high foot traffic, bamboo is considered the best hardwood flooring to use in kitchens.

The Main Reasons Bamboo Is Great For Kitchens

  1. It’s highly resistant to moisture/water damage
  2. Due to its exceptional hardness it's perfect for high traffic areas
  3. It can be installed under kitchen cabinets and islands (when nailed down or glued down)
  4. It rarely (if ever) needs to be refinished in a residential setting
  5. It can be installed via the floating method, glued down or nailed down, and over concrete

What happens when bamboo flooring gets wet?

Some bamboo, like rigid core bamboo flooring, is 100% waterproof. Meanwhile, all prefinished bamboo flooring is pre-sealed to protect against liquids and moisture, and most strand bamboo provides up to 30 hours of spill protection from puddles. If it gets wet, simply wipe up the spill — it’s as easy as that! This is one of the many reasons that bamboo flooring in the kitchen and bathroom is a popular choice among homeowners.

What is the easiest kitchen floor to keep clean?

Bamboo and vinyl are two of the easiest materials to keep clean, as they both provide smooth, slick surfaces that resist dirt buildup when properly maintained, and they don't trap dust or other allergen inducing particles. Routine care will keep your floors looking newer, longer.

Does bamboo get installed under kitchen cabinets?

As a general rule of thumb, floating floors should never be installed under cabinets, while floors that are nailed down or glued down can successfully be installed under cabinets. For the ins and outs we recommend you read Installing Bamboo Flooring Under Cabinets and Islands - A Guide.

Why is bamboo flooring good for high traffic areas like kitchens?

Strand woven bamboo - in which bamboo fibers are woven together into a "mat" and then compressed - is the hardest type of wood flooring available, according to the Janka hardness scale. It beats out every single hardwood many times over, including teak, cherry, rosewood, and walnut. Bamboo 1, Trees 0. If you want to know about bamboo floors and scratching, check out our post Does Bamboo Flooring Scratch Easily?

This means it's resistant to denting. So when the inevitable campbell's soup can, or cast iron skillet, or heavy appliance falls on your kitchen floor, strand bamboo will not dent as much as other flooring.

We cook A LOT - will bamboo flooring stand up to our crazy recipes?

Yeah! Strand woven bamboo has a Janka hardness rating of 3,500-5,500 and is much denser than hardwood. In fact, the only other thing less susceptible to scrapes would be stone flooring, but that’s awfully cold for bare feet and paws. Also, if you get a brand with a high quality finish that is stain and moisture resistant, you're really set.

If you’re still worried that your family could damage a bamboo floor, then you’ll be pleased to hear that bamboo has many different options for texture and finish, which can reduce the appearance of wear and tear.

The best combination of texture/finish for hiding stray scratches is:

  • Light Colors
  • Matte Finishes with aluminum oxide, which uses tiny pieces of metal to protect the bamboo (don’t worry, it’s totally safe for bare feet)
  • Distressed/Hand-scraped Surface Textures (i.e. hand-scraped or distressed)

Although, it’s probably still wise to insist that your kids take off their soccer cleats and roller-skates outside, y’know for safety. If you want to test bamboo flooring to see how it holds up, we recommend ordering a sample piece and see how long it takes them to make a dent by hitting them with a hammer and dunking them in water!

Do I need to add extra finish when installing in my kitchen?

If you purchase an Ambient® bamboo floor, you are covered for use in kitchens, as our Accuseal Ultra® premium finish protects against all types of moisture and stains that occur inside a kitchen. Additionally, there are several things you can do to protect your flooring from damage including:

  • Putting felt protectors on the feet of furniture
  • Putting mats at entry ways or underneath large appliances, especially if you have to move them
  • Vacuum or sweep regularly to remove a buildup of dirt
  • Place chair mats under rolling office chairs
  • Ask people to remove high heels or any shoes with spikes

What if my floor starts to look scratched over time?

One huge benefit of strand bamboo flooring is that it is highly unlikely to ever need refinishing in a residential setting. However, you can always get your bamboo floor refinished if it starts to look old. Refinishing a bamboo floor involves sanding down the surface and applying a fresh coat (or two) of finish. It means that your floor will look brand new for a fraction of the price. Major win! If all else fails you can always look to purchase new bamboo flooring as a replacement!

So it will stand up to food and liquid stains, and appliance leaks?

Rigid core bamboo flooring, which is 100% waterproof, is practically impervious to water. Meanwhile, all high quality strand bamboo provides 24-hour spill protection against puddles and is more resistant to water damage than most types of hardwood, because bamboo is actually a grass that grows in humid climates. Unlike hardwoods, strand woven bamboo will retain its shape after drying out and is therefore much better for use in your kitchen, an area where spills are more common.

This means that if your dog comes straight in from the rain and shakes itself dry, your daughter makes a mess when washing up, or you literally spray your drink when your best friend tells you what happened to her at the grocery store, there’s no need to panic. Same goes if you spill a glass of milk, or drop a hot casserole, or tip over a large pot of tomato sauce! Even in case of puddles, like a leak or someone knocking over the pet’s water bowl, you have at least 24 hours to wipe it up before it starts to cause a problem. This means peace of mind that if there’s a spill while you’re at work or asleep, they’ll be plenty of time before you need to deal with it. Remember however that bamboo flooring is not impervious to pet urine if it's left on the floor for more than 14 hours (like every other floor including concrete).

Will mold grow on bamboo due to a moist cooking environment?

Mold is probably the worst thing that you can come across in a kitchen (*shudders*), but you’ll be happy to know that under normal circumstances bamboo is a naturally hostile environment for mold. This means that even though you are able to leave water on your floor, you’re unlikely to see any mold growing there. However, like all materials, if bamboo flooring is completely flooded or submerged for more than a short time, and water has accumulated under the planks, we highly recommend removing and replacing the floor or calling in a mold remediation company for advice.

What can I do to improve the water resistance of kitchen floors?

Well, you can always coat the floor with a special polyurethane sealer, but with properly treated strand bamboo flooring this isn’t usually necessary.

But I heard that bamboo is sensitive to humidity, and my kitchen is HOT.

This is a myth! High quality bamboo is multiple times better at handling humidity changes without shrinking or expanding than other floors. If someone does notice that their floors are swelling or shrinking, this is probably the result of:

  • Improper installation, with the installer leaving too much/little room around the edge of the floor
  • Improper environment settings, where the humidity has changed more than 20%, causing the planks to change size drastically
  • Improper manufacturing, with the manufacturer failing to moisture balance the bamboo planks sufficiently

Any special cleaning requirements in a kitchen?

Cleaning your bamboo floor is super easy and really shouldn’t take you long at all, which means less hassle and more relaxing for you. There is no special cleaning process for bamboo in kitchens.

All you need to do is:

  • Clear the floor of all items (i.e. mats, pet bowls, litter trays)
  • Sweep or vacuum the floor to easily remove dirt, dust, and pet fur
  • Mop with a lightly dam mop and an approved hardwood floor cleaning solution. Never steam mop bamboo and hardwood floors.

For a full set of care instructions feel free to check out our bamboo flooring cleaning and care guide.

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