Bamboo Flooring Expansion Rates and What You Need to Know

Bamboo FlooringAs more and more consumers focus on being environmentally responsible, they discover the beauty, durability, and affordability of bamboo flooring. Although bamboo can be a terrific choice for any home or commercial space, like other “wood” flooring (bamboo is actually grass), there are some things to take into consideration when installing it in your home or office.

The following guidelines will help you know what to expect regarding bamboo flooring expansion.

Bamboo Expands Along its Length as well as Width

Unless you work with installers who specialize in bamboo flooring, some installers may only allow for expansion at the sides of the boards. Though this is fine for hardwood planks, bamboo actually expands and contracts along its length as well. NOTE: Strand-woven bamboo flooring tends to contract most similarly to solid wood flooring, and horizontal solid bamboo will contract more than vertical bamboo.

MC Accuracy

“MC” stands for moisture content. Some hardwoods require moisture readings of the wood before installation. And if they are using a pin meter, they should be sure the prongs don’t cross the glue line when they poke into the floor. Doing so will produce a faulty reading. Due to its dense nature, bamboo flooring can be difficult to get a reading for with traditional moisture meters, so when you are shopping for bamboo, make sure to look for a product that is kiln dried and meets the typical American standards: within 8% – 12% moisture content. Many products coming from outside of the US have an MC of up to 18%. The best bamboo flooring suppliers have already moisture-balanced the floors properly before shipment.

Control Moisture During Installation

Whether you are installing the floors yourself or hiring professionals, you must be sure the project site’s conditions are conducive to your bamboo boards.

For starters, your bamboo flooring should never be delivered to the job site until the building has been finished and enclosed with doors and windows. All wet work, such as plastering and cement, should be completed. Also, room temperature must be consistent.

Make sure the subfloors are dry and the humidity in the room is controlled before installation.

Acclimate Your Bamboo Planks

Many DIYers either forget this step or refuse to believe it’s necessary. Well, it happens to be one of the most common and costly mistakes DIYers make. But trust us, it is very necessary. Most Strand-woven bamboo should be acclimated for a minimum of 72 hours with the boxes and interior plastic cut wide open and in the environment in which it’s going to be installed. Remember, if you want to install bamboo floors on concrete, never try to acclimate the bamboo flooring directly on top of concrete or carpet with concrete underneath, and always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Bamboo is a great flooring choice for those home and business owners who love the look of traditional wood floors but require something more eco-friendly as well as budget-friendly. If installed and maintained properly, bamboo floors will look beautiful for many years to come.


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