Fewer moisture related flooring failures occur with bamboo floors than with solid wood floors. When installing a new floor in wet areas such as a kitchen or bath or over a concrete substrate, there is a potential for moisture related flooring failures. For wet areas, bamboo is a good choice. If you don’t like the look of bamboo and want the natural wood look, you can still have that solid wood appearance with a quality engineered wood floor.
Fewer Moisture Related Flooring Failures with Bamboo
Bamboo and engineered wood flooring is more stable than solid wood over concrete or in the bathroom or kitchen. With fewer moisture related flooring failures you will be happier in the long run.
With bamboo flooring, moisture related flooring failures are most frequently site related. Often a moisture problem is caused by conditions such as water under the structure, a leaking pipe or excessively wet concrete. Many other moisture related flooring failures are the result of too much moisture in the structural components of a building at the time the floor was installed. Other common failures include improper maintenance and the failure to control temperature and relative humidity. When temperature and relative humidity are not controlled, excessive moisture and excessive drying can take place which will result in moisture related flooring failures. Keep in mind that moisture related flooring failures are not only the result of too much moisture, too little moisture will result in shrinkage and failure.
The major component in many cleaning chemicals is water. Water can have a detrimental effect on bamboo floors. Bamboo as is wood are hygroscopic materials, which means they have the ability to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment.
When wood and bamboo are exposed to air their tendency is to either dry or gain in moisture. The loss or gain in moisture will continue until the material is in equilibrium with the humidity and air temperature. If too much moisture is gained the bamboo or wood will swell and if too much moisture is lost it will shrink. While bamboo is somewhat more stable then wood, both are affected by water.
Bamboo is dimensional stable at its saturation point of about 25–30% moisture content. Below this point it begins to shrink until it reaches 0%. As it starts to gain in moisture it expands until it reaches the saturation point again. Once back at the saturation point of 25-30% it again stabilizes.
When bamboo flooring is manufactured it is kiln dried to an average of 8-10%. Bamboo when made into a floor is dried significantly below the saturation point. Once at this point the flooring is expected to stabilize with the environment in which it is installed. Since the floor still has a natural tendency to gain or loose moisture, it is imperative that the environment be maintained at a suitable level.
Bamboo flooring by its nature has greater dimensional stability and less expansion and contraction than traditional wood floors. This stability is further enhanced by its constructional lay up. In regard to moisture bamboo floors out perform solid wood flooring due to its innate moisture resistance and stability with minimal expansion and contraction.
With engineered flooring the expansion will also be significantly less than with solid wood. The reason for this is that alternating layers of the laminate are prepared to run in opposite directions. Since they are not all running in the same direction they have a natural tendency to pull against one another. Being cross directional helps the engineered flooring to maintain stability.
While the bamboo and engineered floor is more stable in this respect, equilibrium moisture content still remains critical. The moisture content of wood and bamboo that is in storage or installed at a point below its fiber saturation point has a natural tendency to fluctuate. This fluctuation is a result of changes in the relative humidity and air temperature within the environment in which the material is stored or installed.
Bamboo flooring and engineered flooring are indeed your better choices for bathrooms, kitchens and over concrete as they are more stable for these areas than a solid wood floor.