Have you been thinking about adding bamboo flooring to your home? Bamboo has a gorgeous appearance, and it is the new “in” material because it grows so much more quickly than wood, so it’s considered more eco-friendly by some sources. Bamboo floors are becoming increasingly popular, but how suitable are they?
One of the biggest things you need to think about when it comes to choosing a flooring material is how waterproof it will be. This is particularly important in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, but it is relevant no matter where you are.
Is bamboo flooring waterproof? Bamboo flooring is water-resistant, but not waterproof. If you leave water standing on your bamboo floor, instead of wiping it up quickly, it may leave a permanent mark. The water molecules will be absorbed into the floor, making it swell and possibly causing discoloration. Bamboo flooring is not suitable for rooms with a lot of moisture.
Why Isn’t Bamboo Flooring Waterproof?
Bamboo looks and feels like it should be waterproof, so it might surprise you to learn that it isn’t. This sturdy material is porous and will gradually absorb water that rests on its surface. This will cause the fibers to warp and dip, and results in permanent damage to the floor.
Bamboo is not waterproof, and it will be damaged if you let water stand on it for any significant period. It can also be damaged by ambient humidity in some cases. Many people do use it in their homes and it will withstand normal use well, but it should not be allowed to stay wet for long.
Which Rooms Aren’t Suitable For Bamboo Flooring?
This kind of flooring can be used in most parts of the home, but it should not be installed in the kitchen or your bathrooms. It may also be unsuitable for a laundry room, depending on your usage. A lot of ambient humidity or repeated spills can mark the bamboo and cause it to warp and split.
It is best to use bamboo flooring in hallways, living rooms, or bedrooms. Here, there is not likely to be much water, so the risk of damage is low. If you like the appearance of bamboo but you are concerned about the potential for moisture damage, install it in these rooms instead.
How Long Can Bamboo Withstand Water?
Being water-resistant, bamboo should stand up to water spills and splashes pretty well. If you spill water on your bamboo floor, you should aim to wipe it up quickly, but on the whole, even a few hours of contact with water should not be enough to damage the floor.
Some floor manufacturers may offer specific guidelines on how long the bamboo can hold up to water, but this will vary between companies. A few offer a 24 hour guarantee, but they still recommend that you wipe up any moisture before 24 hours have passed.
This is usually plenty of time to clean up accidental spills and puddles. Even larger floods of water shouldn’t do damage as long as they are cleaned up quickly and the floor is thoroughly dried out. However, you should not treat a bamboo floor like a tiled floor. Over time, constant water exposure is very likely to degrade it, and it may not be possible to repair the damage.
Is Bamboo More Water-resistant Than Hardwood?
This depends on a few different things, but bamboo often is more resistant than hardwood, yes. If you install hardwood floors in your home and leave them unsealed, even a few drips of moisture on the floor left for a few minutes will mark the wood. Sealing the floors will prevent this, but they may still suffer from major water spills, especially with extended exposure.
Bamboo is a kind of grass, not wood, so it behaves differently when it comes into contact with water. It is less likely to warp and lose its shape when it gets wet, and it shouldn’t mark as much. This makes bamboo preferable in many instances, because it will wear better and shouldn’t be damaged by small spills.
If you have a hardwood floor in your entryway, for example, wet and muddy footprints may mark it quite quickly. A bamboo floor should withstand this sort of exposure better. It is still a good idea to provide mats to minimize the transfer of water to the bamboo, but the overall damage will be decreased.
Can You Seal Bamboo Floors To Make Them Waterproof?
You can use a bamboo sealer to make your flooring waterproof if you choose to. This makes the floor more hardwearing and will help it withstand ambient moisture. The sealant should be applied as soon as the floor has been installed for maximum effectiveness.
If you are going to do this, make sure you have purchased a suitable sealant that is designed for use on bamboo floors. Apply a couple of coats at least to ensure you get a good layer of protection, and bear in mind that your floor will need to be re-coated every few years, especially if it is an area with a lot of foot traffic.
This will minimize the risk of water damaging your floor, even if you have used it in a bathroom or a kitchen. However, even if you have applied several coats of sealant, you should still aim to wipe up spills as soon as they occur to further minimize the risk of damage.
Although the sealant should prevent any moisture from getting into the bamboo, leaving puddles of water resting on the surface of the floor is not a good idea, and could eventually cause damage. This is particularly true if the sealant was applied some years ago and is likely to be wearing thin in places.
Bamboo flooring is not waterproof, but it is pretty water-resistant. It will stand up to spills and splashes better than hardwood flooring, but it isn’t ideal for use in bathrooms or kitchens. If you apply an appropriate sealant, you can use bamboo flooring in high-moisture environments.