How to Maintain, Refinish, Seal and Restore Bamboo Floors
What is Bamboo and Why is it Popular for Flooring?
Bamboo wood is a popular choice for household surfaces due to its unique texture, color and durability. Bamboo is actually a grass which grows to over 80 feet tall in only five to six years, much more quickly than most types of hardwood. Hardwood trees can take anywhere from 40 years to 120 years to mature. The best bamboo will be harvested every five or six years or longer, which makes for a more durable, hard and dense product.
How are Bamboo Boards for Floors Made?
Bamboo plants are harvested and then the narrow strips (or slats as they are sometimes referred to as) of the flattened plant are laminated together under high pressure with an adhesive to produce boards. The bamboo flooring planks are then treated with hydrogen peroxide to eliminate any mildew and kiln-dried to at least 8-10% moisture content.
Carbonized Bamboo Flooring
Because it is such a dense product, bamboo does not respond well to staining. The process involves pressure steaming the bamboo to produce a darker variety similar to the lighter stains found on most of the other varieties of hardwood flooring. This is why the manufacturers of bamboo flooring provide a carbonized variety of the product.
Hardness of Bamboo for Floors
The hardness of bamboo ranges from 1180 (carbonized horizontal) to around 1380 (natural) using the Janka hardness test versus red oak (1290), white oak (1360), rock maple (1450), hickory (1820) and Brazilian Cherry / Jatoba (2350) - the higher the number the harder the material.
Styles of Bamboo Floors
A bamboo stalk is hollow and the walls of the plant are fairly thin. Strips of bamboo are therefore laminated together to make flooring. The terms "horizontal" and "vertical" refer to the orientation in which the bamboo strips are laminated together.
- In the horizontal style, the strips are laid flat so the top surface shows the bamboo's nodes, or 'knuckles' more prominently
- In the vertical style, the strips are turned on their sides and laminated together in long, slender rows creating a different appearance.
- In engineered flooring, the backing is plywood with a bamboo veneer.
- In woven, strand-woven or stranded bamboo construction, bamboo fibers are put under pressure to create planks. This creates a lot of design opportunities for manufacturers as they can blend colors and lengths for differing styles. Woven construction is considered the most durable.
Durability of Bamboo Flooring
All bamboo flooring is not the same and some is less durable than others. Some bamboo flooring can be indented with a fingernail or easily scratched with a pet's claw.
Finishes on Bamboo Flooring
Urethane and aluminum oxide urethane finishes are the most common finishes on bamboo floors.
Homeowner's Instructions for
Care and Maintenance of Your Bamboo Floors:
- Bamboo floors require care that is different from that of a hardwood floor.
- Use a soft dust mop several times a week to remove any dust and grim that may cause your bamboo floor' s finish to become dull.
- Vacuum your bamboo floor at least once every two months. This will pick up dirt in the corners that your broom may have missed. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar.
- Install curtains that will protect your floor from strong sunlight. Bamboo flooring can become discolored when exposed to daily sunlight. Use sheer drapes, curtains or blinds to limit direct sunlight on your bamboo floor. Sunlight will cause the Natural color to darken slightly. The caramelized color will lighten due to the UV rays. Stained colors will also be affected by the sunlight.
- Use mats at doors to catch dirt as someone enters the room and/or have them remove their shoe (especially high-heel shoes) prior to walking on bamboo flooring. Gravel, rocks and debris stuck in the bottom of shoes will scratch the finish on bamboo flooring.
- Place floor protector pads underneath the feet of all of your furniture to keep the floor from becoming dented under the weight of the furniture. Make sure the floor protectors are large enough to distribute weight evenly. Keep the floor protectors clean of grit and replace them periodically.
- Wheels should have hardened-plastic casters at least 2" in width depending on weight.
- Rotate your furniture periodically. When the weight of the furniture is repositioned, no one portion of the floor should become dented or worn over time.
- Lift furniture when moving, instead of sliding across surface.
- Keep pets' claws trimmed. This will avoid excess scratches and gouges on the bamboo floor.
- Maintain relative humidity. Using a dehumidifier or humidifier to maintain relative humidity in the home at 30-50% will maintain the moisture level in the wood and help minimize cracks between the boards. Continued excessive humidity can cause swelling of the floor. Continued lack of humidity (below 20%) can cause shrinking of the planks and/or cracking of the bamboo strips.
- Clean your bamboo floor with a microfiber mop moistened with a product designed for use on wood floors, such as Wood-Solv Cleaner. Use this solution to clean the floor and then immediately wipe it dry.
- The less water you put on your bamboo floors, the better - water can seep in and cause the boards to swell.
- Never allow any liquid to stand on your bamboo floors. Remove spills promptly.
- Avoid using compounds that contain abrasives.
- Only use colorfast and non-scratch area rugs on your bamboo floor. Shake out, vacuum or wash mats and area rugs frequently.
- Use mats in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room to protect against spills.
- Do not use oil soap, scouring powder, abrasive cleansers or harsh detergents to clean your bamboo floor.
- Never use products on your bamboo floors that leave a oily sticky residue - such as Orange Glo®, Murphey® Oil Soap, Holloway House® and Mop & Glo®.
- Steam cleaning should be avoided because it will damage the floor.
How to Refinish, Restore, Seal and Care for Bamboo Flooring
- Wear and tear can lead to a dull appearance, drying or warping. To renew, seal and protect the surface, the bamboo requires refinishing.
- Scratches and/or gouges in the bamboo flooring material may happen during an installation or subsequent use. Board replacement is the best option; however if this is not possible, use the Wood-Solv Fill Sticks.
- Wax, including products such as Mop & Glo, should never be used on a residential bamboo floor. Once wax, in any form, has been applied to a bamboo floor, only wax may be used as a coating over the floor. Urethane and other surface finishes can not be applied over an existing wax finish.
- Urethane finishes eventually will show wear patterns from surface scratching. When high surface areas look dull, it is time to seal, re-coat or restore the finish.
- Refinishing and sealing a bamboo floor is much the same as refinishing and sealing any hardwood floor; it takes a little effort, but the results are worth it.
- Most bamboo flooring canít be sanded because the pieces are glued together.
Bamboo Flooring Maintenance and Restoration Products:
Bamboo Flooring Maintenance and Restoration Information: