Bamboo floors are popular because they are attractive and eco-friendly, but many people wonder about bamboo flooring durability. Is it the right choice for your home?
Facts About Bamboo Flooring Durability
Unlike traditional solid plank wood floors, such as those made from oak or pine, bamboo floors are made by gluing strips of bamboo together to form the planks. Also unlike traditional hardwood flooring, there is no grading system for bamboo flooring and quality can vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. Consider both the hardness of bamboo as well as its durability.
Bamboo is touted as a "renewable resource" because it grows so quickly. Some people try to take advantage of this and sell lower quality bamboo that has not reached its peak. Bamboo is grown in many different countries in a variety of species and is harvested at varying stages. Be sure you know where your bamboo is coming from and that it was harvested at an ideal time. Natural, light bamboo is harder than carbonized bamboo, a process used to achieve rich, dark colors but that ultimately weakens the fibers. Test the durability of a plank by pressing your fingernail into the surface.
Choosing Durable Bamboo Flooring
Research your bamboo flooring manufacturer and confirm that they hold high standards for the bamboo that they purchase and their manufacturing process. Ask if they offer extended warranties against unnecessary wear or damage.
Be sure that your bamboo floor manufacturer uses straight milling by hydraulic and electronic equipment. Hand presses and mills are often used for cheaper brands and are more inconsistent, resulting in planks that fall apart over time. Look for planks with little or no filler, and wide planks should incorporate crosswise layers to increase strength to prevent warping or cupping.
Finishes that are applied to the wood affect its durability and sheen. Some coatings help to make the floors scratch and moisture resistant as well as provide "sunscreen" to help prevent damage from UV rays. Look for a satin finish over a semi-gloss finish, on which scratches are much more evident.
While bamboo flooring is relatively dimensionally stable, be sure to choose a manufacturer that kiln dries their bamboo to reduce moisture, this preventing splitting and cracking later. Acclimatize your bamboo flooring planks to the area in which they will be installed for at least 72 hours or per manufacturer's instructions.
Protecting Bamboo Floors
Proper care will help to maintain bamboo flooring durability so your floor will look its best and last longer. Always consider your manufacturer's instructions, but these are general rules for caring for bamboo flooring:
- Don't drag furniture across the floor and consider attaching felt or rubber pads to legs to protect the surface from scratching.
- Use rugs in high traffic areas to reduce wear and walk-off mats at entrances to avoid tracking dirt onto the floor and grinding it into the finish.
- Don't wear stiletto heels or golf cleats on the bamboo floor and keep pets' claws trimmed to avoid dimpling and scratching.
- Prevent water from coming into contact with the floor by placing drip pans beneath potted plants, and wipe up spills immediately with a soft cloth.
- Block direct sunlight with curtains and blinds to prevent discoloration of the floor over time.
- Clean your bamboo floor often with a dust mop or soft broom to remove dust and debris.
- Use cleaning products that are designated for bamboo floors with the particular type of finish your have and are approved by your manufacturer.
- Call a professional if your floors need to be buffed to restore their original shine.