Due to its use on DIY home improvement/house flipping shows, bamboo flooring has been generating tremendous buzz recently. Not only is it an extremely durable flooring material, but when properly finished and maintained it is less susceptible to moisture and high humidity.
Many builders, renovators, and homeowners are choosing bamboo flooring for their bathrooms to give them a hardwood look that is fresh and unique.
Before Installing Bamboo Flooring in Your Bathroom
Bamboo flooring isn’t new: it’s been around for decades, and the renewed interest in bamboo for hardwood flooring has seen a revival thanks to the sustainable housing movement.
Many construction companies and developers are also turning to bamboo floors as a way to “go green” when sourcing their building materials.
Why is bamboo so much more sustainable? These plants have a rapid growth rate (sometimes as much as several inches in a day), and so they can be harvested and regrown in far shorter periods than hardwood trees. This makes bamboo ideal for preserving natural resources without compromising on the quality and durability of building materials.
How Is Bamboo Flooring Made?
It may look like wood, but bamboo is a grass that possesses tough, durable fibers used in construction and commercial applications for thousands of years. The bamboo used in flooring undergoes a series of manufacturing processes that cut them into strips, shreds them to separate the fibers, and bonds them into a sturdy square using heat, pressure, and adhesives.
Bamboo Flooring Options
There are three types of bamboo flooring used in manufacturing:
Vertical bamboo has a striped grain, while horizontal has the “knuckled” look most people think of when they think of bamboo floors. Strand grain, the most expensive type of hardwood floor is actually a weave of bamboo fibers that are interlocked for superior strength and durability. Bamboo is an ideal choice for sustainable hardwood flooring that preserves old-growth hardwood forests.
What Is the Best Bamboo Flooring?
There are a lot of options for bamboo floors in bathroom and kitchen environments, including:
Solid Strand Bamboo (Tongue & Groove)
Solid Strand Bamboo (Click Lock)
Engineered Strand Bamboo (Click Lock)
Engineered Rigid Core Strand Bamboo (Click Lock)
Engineered Strand Bamboo (Tongue & Groove)
Classic Bamboo (Tongue & Groove)
Of these, the best bamboo flooring options for bathrooms and other damp environments are solid strand bamboo and engineered rigid core strand bamboo.
Choosing Sustainable Bamboo Floors
While bamboo is a more sustainable source for flooring and provides high quality, lower cost option for putting in a hardwood bathroom floor, there are some concerns about certain sources of bamboo flooring.
For example, while it is a greener choice that’s better for the environment and reduces harvesting pressure on exotic hardwoods, the manufacturing processes in countries where the bamboo flooring is made are largely unregulated.
This oversight means some brands of bamboo flooring have a greater potential to contain toxic substances in the adhesive and finish including formaldehyde. Furthermore, the factories in these countries that manufacture bamboo flooring can often generate a larger carbon footprint due to lax emissions standards overseas.
How to Ensure You’re Purchasing Sustainable Bamboo Flooring for Bathrooms
Ecologically conscious consumers seeking to use bamboo flooring should verify their flooring is certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council, as products bearing their seal of approval practice ethical and ecologically sound harvesting and manufacturing processes.
Is Bamboo Flooring Good for Bathrooms?
Ready to install a bamboo floor in your bathroom? First, consider the practical advantages and disadvantages of a bamboo bathroom floor.
Here’s a quick rundown:
Bamboo flooring is every bit as durable as traditional hardwood, provided you get good quality bamboo flooring. Check the warranty before you make a buying decision.
Bamboo provides a clean and contemporary aesthetic that suits many bathroom designs.
Cleans up fast and easy with just a mop and gentle soap.
Thicker bamboo flooring can be refinished in the future depending on how the planks are constructed.
Laminated bamboo flooring glued to sub-layers is a DIYers dream to install.
Cheap bamboo flooring shows wear and tear quickly, so you don’t want to cut corners on quality.
The grass fibers of bamboo plants absorb water when not sealed/finished well, so they are susceptible to water damage from excessive humidity over long periods of time.
Not all bathroom designs are going to be suitable for the aesthetic of a bamboo floor.
There are a few tones/shades available with bamboo flooring.
Best Way to Install Bamboo Flooring
Now that you understand the pros and cons of putting bamboo floors in bathrooms and other areas of the house, it’s time to learn how bamboo flooring is installed. If you’re wondering, “How do you install bamboo floors in bathroom?” Here is a sampling of the installation process used by the flooring pros here at Carpet to Go for tongue and groove flooring:
1. Subfloor Preparation
Remove existing flooring and scrub the subfloor clean. If the subfloor isn’t level, then you’ll need to repair holes or dips to ensure an even subfloor surface. Use a concrete moisture meter to ensure the concrete is dry.
2. Bamboo Flooring Preparation
Because it is a natural product, your bamboo flooring will need to acclimatize to the room’s environment prior to installation. Lay your boxes of flooring in the bathroom and allow them to sit there for at least 48 hours. Skipping this step and installing bamboo flooring in the bathroom without letting it acclimatize can result in warped floors.
3. Sort Out Your Bamboo Flooring
One of the charming characteristics of bamboo flooring is that each plank varies in shade and pattern. Sort out your flooring before installation, creating piles of dark, medium, and light planks, and once you begin laying the floor, stagger the colors around the bathroom to enhance their natural look.
4. Gather Your Tools
Now it’s time to install your new tongue and groove bamboo flooring! Here’s a list of the tools you’ll need to get started:
A saw blade that’s at least 40-tooth (the higher the better)
Moisture resistant adhesive
5. Install the Flooring Underlayment
To help the bamboo flooring in your bathroom stand the test of time, it’s important to start your installation by laying down a 3-in-1 underlayment on the subfloor. A high-quality underlayment protects your flooring from moisture and, as an added bonus, helps soundproof the room.
6. Start Laying Bamboo Floors in Bathroom
Start laying your bamboo flooring, making sure that you leave a ¼” to ½” gap between the flooring and any walls, cabinets, fireplaces, or other elements. The best way to maintain this gap is to use expansion spacers, placing them between the flooring and the wall or whatever other structure the flooring is pushing against. With changing seasons and humidity, your bamboo flooring will expand and contract. These spaces are necessary to allow the flooring to fluctuate safely.
7. Use Mallet to Secure Flooring Planks
Since these are directions for a tongue and groove flooring, make sure that you squirt a generous amount of glue in the inside seam of the groove prior to sliding the next plank in place. Once you’ve applied the glue, push the next plank into position and use your rubber mallet to lock the tongue and groove together firmly. For maximum security, use bamboo flooring tape to hold the planks together. Remove tape after 10 or so hours.
8. Cut and Place Final Row of Flooring
It’s likely that you’ll need to cut your final row of planks lengthwise, in order to fit them into place. Remember to cut them so that ¼” to ½” of space is left between the flooring and the wall.
Bottom line, the pro versus con of installing a bamboo floor in your bathroom comes down to three points to ponder: source, quality, and design. If ethical and ecologically sound sourcing is important to you, then do your homework and be prepared to spend a bit more on your bamboo flooring.DIYers and renovators concerned about potential long-term humidity damage should research engineered and well-finished bamboo flooring designed to be less susceptible to absorbing water. Lastly, it would be best if you made sure that the available shades of bamboo flooring will work with the palette of your bathroom design.Provided you consider these three important points, installing a high-quality bamboo floor in your bathroom can be an investment that pays dividends for years to come.