What Causes Bamboo Floors to Warp?

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Bamboo flooring is becoming a trend as it is touted as a sustainable floor that is environmentally friendly. However, there are several pitfalls to bamboo flooring products, and one of the main pitfalls is the tendency for bamboo to warp. Also known as "cupping," the primary cause of warped planks in a bamboo floor is moisture. Bamboo is susceptible to moisture problems, and there are several ways that moisture can reach and warp a bamboo floor.

Inadequate Acclimatization

  • Bamboo flooring should be allowed to acclimatize for a minimum of 24 hours before installation. This is achieved by stacking the cases of bamboo planks in the room where you will install them, allowing the moisture level in the bamboo to stabilize to the humidity level of the room.

Improper Substrate Preparation

  • The substrate on which the bamboo is installed must be properly prepped before installation, especially regarding moisture barriers over concrete installs. Likewise, if the bamboo is to installed on a subfloor, the subfloor must meet the bamboo manufacturer's standards to protect the bamboo flooring from outside infiltration of moisture.

Improper Adhesive Application

  • If the wrong adhesive is used, too much or too little adhesive is applied or the adhesive is not allowed to cure properly before or during the bamboo flooring installation, moisture from the adhesive may seep into the bamboo planks and cause the bamboo to delaminate, discolor and warp.

Inadequate Expansion Space

  • If the manufacturer's recommended expansion space is not maintained around the perimeter walls and other vertical surfaces, the bamboo will not have enough room to expand and will buckle and warp.

Standing Liquids

  • If liquids are spilled on bamboo flooring, they must be immediately wiped up. Failure to do so will allow the bamboo to absorb the liquid and will cause warping. Likewise, using a steam cleaning machine on bamboo may expose the flooring to too much moisture and will cause the bamboo to warp.

Humidity Factors

  • Bamboo flooring must be maintained within the humidity level required by the manufacturer. A room that is too humid or too dry will cause excessive expansion and contraction of the bamboo floor and will cause the planks to warp and buckle.

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  • Photo Credit bamboo thicket image by Jeff Davies from Fotolia.com
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