Is Bamboo Flooring Suitable For Dry Climates

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Bamboo is a popular option for people who refuse to sacrifice beauty or durability in flooring. Bamboo is eco-friendly, up to three times stronger than other types of wood, and highly attractive and stylish.

People who live in dry climates or desert areas are often convinced of bamboo’s benefits, but they question whether bamboo flooring will maintain its integrity and last in an arid environment.

The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Because bamboo flooring has been in such high demand in recent years, we know a great deal about how to properly install and maintain bamboo flooring in all climates. We can advise you of the best measures to take to get the all the benefits from your new bamboo flooring.

You simply have to keep these precautions in mind when installing and maintaining bamboo floors in dry climates:

  1. Control your home’s humidity and maintain it at a consistent level.
  2. Acclimate the flooring for at least 10 days before installation.
  3. Use proper adhesives to glue down the flooring.
  4. Add appropriately sized expansion gaps at the flooring’s perimeter.

Bamboo can be successfully installed and kept looking and functioning beautifully in all climates whether very dry or very humid. Our floors have been successfully installed in all climates around the world from the jungles of Kenya to the heights of the Rockies.

How Humidity Affects Flooring

All wood flooring expands and contracts due to changes in humidity. Bamboo is no exception. Properly manufactured bamboo and eucalyptus flooring is similar to mid-range hardwoods when it comes to dimensional stability.

Bamboo flooring expands when it absorbs humidity and contracts when the air is dryer. If planks are glued down to the sub-floor, each plank expands and contracts a small amount. Gaps appear between planks when the humidity is lower. The gaps close when higher humidity causes moisture absorption.

In floating floors, the planks are locked together but not secured to the sub-floor. Floating floors expand and contract as a single unit. Individual planks still expand and contract, but since gaps don’t form between the planks, all the movement occurs at the outer edges of the installation.

The key for any environment with wood products is to control your interior humidity to avoid excessive swings in humidity throughout the year, as these will cause more pronounced expansion and contraction.

If your humidity does not fluctuate more than 20 degrees year around, your floors will continue to look great. But if you allow larger humidity swings, larger gaps may develop during dry spells or you may have issues with expansion. This is common wood flooring behavior and is to be expected.

If you live in an extremely humid or dry climate, you can still enjoy all the benefits and beauty of bamboo flooring. You simply must take special care to follow these tips during and after installation to keep your flooring looking fabulous:

  1.  Control Your Home’s Humidity

Maintaining a consistent humidity level during and after installation is critical for keeping your floors functioning properly and looking great.

The key to maintaining bamboo floors that look great for a lifetime is to keep your home’s interior humidity above 20 percent at all times, and never let it fluctuate more than 25 percent throughout the year for more than 48 hours straight. The recommended humidity setting for our floors is 40 to 60 percent, but dryer settings suffice as long as your humidity is stable (within a 20 percent range) throughout the year.

If your home is in a dry climate, you may need to use a humidifier to keep your interior humidity setting consistent.

  1.  Acclimate the Flooring Before Installation

It’s understandable that you’d want to install your beautiful bamboo flooring as soon as you get your product home. But waiting for your flooring to acclimate to the arid climate and dryer conditions in your home protects your investment and helps guard against cupping, buckling and other floor failures.

Our recent article “How Long Does Bamboo Flooring Need to Acclimate?” provides detailed information about why bamboo flooring must be acclimated to the climate where it will be lived on.

In short, all our flooring products must be acclimated for a minimum of 72 hours before installation. However, if you live in an excessively arid or dry climate, acclimate your new flooring for up to 10 days for the best results.

  • Acclimate the flooring in the same room it will be installed with the climate control on.
  • Ensure all boxes are opened properly so that the planks can breathe. Cut the boxes open length-wise and open both end flaps to expose all the planks.
  • Cross-stack the boxes up to five high for better air flow.
  1.  Glue Down the Bamboo Flooring

We recommend that you glue down your flooring if you live in a dry, arid climates. The elasticity in the glue allows the floors to breathe easily and maintain their integrity. Using adhesives in your flooring also provides additional moisture protection from sub-floors and helps muffle sounds.

If you need additional help on gluing down your floor, our article “Best Bamboo Flooring Adhesives” details two different methods for using adhesives during floor installation: The “flash” method and the “wet lay” method.

Whichever methods you use, you should choose an adhesive that doesn’t contain water. We offer adhesives and moisture barriers specifically designed for using with bamboo flooring.

  1.  Use Proper Expansion Gaps at the Flooring Perimeter

Using the proper expansion gaps prevents floor planks from buckling or distorting in response to humidity changes. Protect your flooring by leaving the appropriate amount of expansion gaps at the flooring’s perimeter during installation. Intentionally leaving gaps next to the walls allows the flooring to expand and contract as humidity levels change.

An expansion gap should be approximately 1/4″-1/2″ and run the entire perimeter of the floor. Don’t worry about appearances. Shoe molding or baseboards will cover the gap and keep the beauty of your floors intact.

Follow these strategies in dry and low humidity climates to enjoy the beauty and benefits of bamboo floors that can last a lifetime.