11 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Bamboo Flooring

Businessmen raising a question markWe get a lot of calls and emails from people who are considering installing bamboo in their home and many of them have the same questions. We thought we’d share those with you here in case you also have questions about bamboo flooring, like if it’s right for your home and lifestyle.

1. Why is “carbonized” bamboo darker? Has it been stained?

No. Carbonized bamboo is darker not because it’s been stained, but because it’s been put through a special process of heating the bamboo. This process darkens the natural sugars found in the plant giving the finished planks a darker color.  For classic bamboo floors (horizontal and vertical styles), the darker the color, the longer the bamboo has been boiled and the softer the flooring will be as a result.

2. Is it true carbonized bamboo is softer than natural bamboo?

Yes and no.  As we just mentioned the process of carbonization not only colors the bamboo but it also softens the flooring by around 10% – HOWEVER this is only in what we call “Classic” bamboo flooring (Vertical or Horizontal).  In strand woven bamboo, the carbonized color is the same hardness as the natural color because the raw materials are compressed to the same density.

3. What’s the difference between “vertical” and “horizontal” bamboo flooring?

The difference between these two styles of bamboo flooring come down to how strips of bamboo are glued together and how the result looks. Bamboo stalks are hollow and the actual walls of the plant are rather thin. To make durable flooring, strips of bamboo are laminated together. In “horizontal” floors, the strips are laid flat so the top surface of the individual planks show the classic bamboo “knuckling.”

In “vertical” flooring the strips are actually turned on their side and laminated together in long, slender rows which creates a completely unique and beautiful pattern.

4. Can I float a bamboo floor?

Yes, you can easily float our bamboo floors. We offer glue-less click-lock planks which fit together and “click” into place. This is an incredibly easy installation as no glue or nails are required, and usually can be done by DIYers over a weekend.  Just keep in mind that click lock engineered floors have a maximum run limit of 25 feet, and click lock solid all-the-way-through floors have a maximum run limit of 15 feet.

5. I live in an area that experiences high humidity often. Do bamboo floors hold up to humidity?

Actually, bamboo holds up incredibly well to moist conditions (within reason, don’t dump buckets of water on your floor and let it sit there). Because bamboo is actually a grass and NOT a hardwood, it tolerates moisture and humid climates well.  That being said, you must follow NWFA guidelines regarding humidity levels inside the home.  Mainly, as with any wood floor, you want to avoid swings of more than 20% in humidity throughout the year.

Also be sure to allow your flooring to acclimate for at least 72 hours, laid flat on the floor in the room where it will be installed, with the boxes and interior plastic cut open.

6. Are strand-woven bamboo and traditional bamboo flooring the same thing?

No, both types of flooring are manufactured in different ways. In the strand-woven process, the strips of bamboo are tightly compressed to form strands which are then woven together and then milled to form flooring. The cool thing about this process is that it creates bamboo flooring that is actually twice as hard as traditional bamboo flooring and many times harder than oak.  Traditional bamboo flooring (what we call “Classic”) is much softer, and it is not compressed.  If you want to see a great writeup, check out the main differences between bamboo flooring types.

7.   Can bamboo flooring be installed over concrete?

Bamboo flooring can absolutely be glued down to concrete, just make sure you use an adhesive with a moisture barrier, and the correct accompanying trowel.  You can also float bamboo flooring over concrete with a 3 in 1 pad.

8. When I order my bamboo floors, how much extra should I order to allow for waste?

We recommend that you add 10% for cutting and waste, but this can vary slightly depending on your skill level and the layout of your room.  If you’re installing the flooring in a diagonal pattern, you’ll need to add 15%.

9. I’m confused by all the different moldings and how they should be used.

There are seven main types of moldings that you may need to use depending on your particular installation.

  • Quarter Round molding hides the expansion gap left between floor and wall during installation.
  • T-moldings are used as a transition strip where the bamboo flooring meets tile or carpeting of equal or similar height (within 1/8″).
  • Stair Noses cover the front edge of a stair tread or step.
  • Stair Tread moldings are used to cover the entire structural stair tread.
  • Reducers are used to transition down to a flat surface
  • Thresholds are used to transition to a surface of lower height and are usually cut to size depending on the drop.
  • Register vents are used to cover HVAC ducts and come in either flush mount (flat surface) or drop in (slightly lifted off the floor) designs.
  • Baseboards are used to hide the expansion gap left between the floor and wall and often paired with quarter round.

10. Can I install bamboo flooring in a bathroom?

As we mentioned previously, bamboo holds up well to moisture, so installing in your bathroom should not be a problem, however it is not warranted for use in full bathrooms. Again we would remind you that although bamboo can handle moisture better than hardwood floors, you should still be mindful of not letting any standing water be left on your bamboo floors.

11. How do I maintain my bamboo flooring?

If you learn to get into the habit of maintaining your new bamboo floors, you can keep them looking beautiful for years, even decades. Maintenance is quite easy and can be done so with a Swiffer or any type of dry mop. You’ll want to treat your bamboo floors similarly to hardwoods and don’t clean them with any excessive moisture. Should you have any spills you can clean those up with a lightly damp mop.   Here is how we recommend you maintain your bamboo floors:

  • Make sure you use doormats or rugs at entrances so you and guests can wipe dirt, sand, or grit off your shoes so it doesn’t get tracked inside where it can potentially damage your bamboo floors.
  • Make sure to dry mop or vacuum with a soft accessory once a week (or as needed) to keep your bamboo floors free from dirt, sand and grit.
  • For spills or messy spots, simply use a soft damp cloth and gently rub the area. From time to time you can use a generic hardwood floor cleaner, but never use any harsh detergents, abrasive cleaners, or corrosive chemicals to clean your floors. Just make sure to never use steel wool or anything abrasive to scrub your bamboo floors.
  • Use only colorfast and non-scratch carpeting or pads on your bamboo floor.
  • Keep your pet’s nails trimmed and try not to walk on floors in high-heeled shoes.
  • Never drag furniture across your floors.
  • While most bamboo flooring has effective UV inhibitors in its pre-finish, we recommended you not allow your floors to be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods. Draw blinds or curtains in the summer or during certain hours of the day.

And there you have them, the top 10 questions we get asked about bamboo flooring. If we haven’t answered your question(s), please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email and we’d be glad to answer as many questions you have.


Categories: Flooring

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