Bamboo is a gorgeous and strong material that wears well. It is incredibly versatile which makes it possible to craft different finishes and styles. So, with bamboo flooring, there is something for everyone. But is there a bamboo floor for everywhere?
Where Bamboo Flooring Belongs
When bamboo flooring is installed in an enclosed space like a sun room or atrium, the key to keeping the floor in good condition is that certain humidity requirements be met. If humidity levels are not relatively stable, meaning between 40%-60%, problems can arise.
- Low Humidity: If humidity levels are consistently too low, shrinkage or cracks may occur.
- High Humidity: Consistent levels of high humidity may cause expansion of bamboo flooring which can lead to a buckling affect.
Direct Water Contact:
Installing bamboo flooring in non conditioned spaces can expose the material to the elements. The longer the runs of flooring, the more problems you’ll see. Although bamboo flooring is suitable for a half-bathroom or kitchen, where it will experience direct contact with water from time to time, sitting out in a high humidity space is not the same thing. As with in kitchens, puddles of water are to be avoided as pooling that remains for more than 20 hours can affect the finish. The flooring may also swell, becoming permanently mis-shapen and warped.
UV Exposure & Sun Fading
Bamboo flooring systems are crafted with several layers of UV protection. Although any material will fade over time due to routine exposure to sunlight, interior flooring can be further protected by the use of window coverings such as drapes, blinds and UV films. However, in rooms like sun rooms and atriums, it may not be possible to provide effective UV protection for flooring without adding UV films to your windows.
Flooring experts will evaluate a space and the construction environment before installing bamboo materials. Precision instruments measure moisture levels to determine suitability for installation. Before flooring is installed, an acclimation period is recommended to allow moisture levels to reach optimum equilibrium. As the bamboo adjusts to the conditions of the surrounding humidity, there will be a natural and normal process of expansion of the material. Once the bamboo has stabilized, the installation process can begin. Since climate conditions cannot be controlled out-of-doors, it is impossible to expect reliable stabilization. Prime installation conditions of bamboo flooring for outdoor projects are beyond the control of installation professionals.
Controlling The Environment
It’s actually easy to keep bamboo floors looking great once they are installed. Routine care and maintenance include sweeping or vacuuming and immediate clean-up of spills, and steam mopping and wet mopping are to be avoided. Instead, lightly damp mopping with cleaning products designed specifically for use with bamboo or hardwood floor should be used.
Many homes will already have the recommended humidity levels through the home’s HVAC system, however should seasonal changes create conditions of humidity that are too low or too high, it may be necessary to use a de-humidifier or humidifier.
Many geographic areas experience the four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. However, where bamboo flooring is concerned, there are only two seasons: dry and wet. During the dry season, it may be necessary to use a humidifier if your humidity drops below 35%. During the wet season, you might turn to a de-humidifier to protect bamboo flooring if the humidity goes above 60%.
- Dry Season: As temperatures drop outdoors, the dry season begins indoors. Using heat in the home signals the onset of the dry season. If the home’s heated air makes your own skin dry and itchy, imagine what it is doing to your bamboo and hardwood floors! A central humidifier or humidistat installed in a furnace will automatically control the home’s humidity during the dry season. A portable humidifier is also a suitable solution and will contribute to air circulation throughout the home as it is moved from room to room.
- Wet Season: Summertime hot weather will most likely have homeowners cranking down the thermostat. As a home’s air conditioner begins to run, virtually ’round the clock, the humidity will begin to rise. It could rise as much as 90%. That spells bad news for bamboo and hardwood flooring. Avoid expansion problems like cupping and buckling by using a de-humidifier during the seasons the air conditioner is in use, especially in basements.