Bamboo is one of the strongest materials for flooring. It looks beautiful, it feels as smooth as can be, and it’s not too difficult to install. The only issue is that, due to its density, beginner installers aren’t sure whether or not it expands. Knowing the expansion properties of flooring is extremely important to understand in order to get a feel for how the specific flooring type will fit with your space.
Bamboo flooring expands because it absorbs moisture, fluctuates with the room’s temperature, and it settles over the course of a couple of years. You can prevent expansion by placing bracing blocks or spacers around the edges of the floor. When bamboo expands, it’ll warp, crack, and shift.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info about bamboo flooring expansion:
- Various explanations of bamboo flooring expansion
- The numerous effects of this process
- How you can prevent and fix expanding bamboo flooring
Why Does Bamboo Flooring Expand?
Much like most other types of wood, bamboo expands based on its environment. When you’re installing a new bamboo floor or repairing an old one, it’s essential that you can account for the potential expansion. Fortunately, you’re about to discover all of the reasons that bamboo floors expand to help you prevent it from happening.
Here’s a list of causes:
- According to Cali Bamboo, dryness in the air can cause the bamboo to shrink. If you installed a bamboo floor and it looks smaller than usual, you might have an issue on your hands. Dryness can be caused by the local climate, dehumidifiers, and excessive use of chemical cleaners.
- Another reason that bamboo floors expand is that they can get too moist. Moisture in the air from humidity or humidifiers can cause your bamboo floors to expand. You’ll be able to notice a difference if some of the lines are further apart than others. Another way to know is if there’s warping.
- Settling causes the floor to shift, which makes it expand and contract. When you install any type of floor, it has to settle into place. This process usually takes a few weeks, so it’s not uncommon to see bamboo floors shift a small amount during this period. Fortunately, you can use spacers to prevent it from happening.
- Earthquakes can cause bamboo floors to expand. If you live in a place that has a lot of quakes (of any size), the floors will start shifting. California, Oregon, and many other states that rest on fault lines experience a lot of wood floor expansion. Make sure your floor is braced or glued to keep it safe.
As you can see, bamboo floors are capable of expanding. The good news is that it’s not worse than other wood floors. You can follow the same methods to keep it intact. If you’re curious about what might happen when bamboo floors expand, proceed to the next section.
What Are the Effects of Expansion in Bamboo Floors?
If you’ve never seen wood floors expand, you’d be shocked at how severe the alterations can be. Many warped floors aren’t recognizable compared to what they used to be. Knowing what you’re getting into is important, but it’s also useful to know how to identify an expanding bamboo floor.
Below, you’ll find the possible effects of bamboo floor expansion:
Warping is a common problem
Warped floors cause strange, unpredictable patterns and bubbling on the surface of bamboo. You might notice circles, ridges, bubbles, and a variety of other unsightly alterations. If you let it go without fixing the problem, it’ll continue to get worse. As with any other expansion feature, you should repair the wood right away.
Expanding floors can crack the surrounding walls
When bamboo expands, it gets too big for the area that it was installed in; it will push against the walls, causing hairline fractures. You might also notice that the floors begin to crack themselves, leading to long-term, irreversible damage. The edges of the floor might start to push upward, causing a slope effect.
They might shrink and become fragile
If the floors are too dry and they lock moisture, they’ll start to shrink, ripple, and crack. The edges will pull inward, causing gaps to appear around the entire floor. As the shrinkage occurs, the floor will become fragile. Bamboo is known for being incredibly strong compared to other woods, but there’s no doubt that expanding and shrinking could reduce its durability.
These three issues are just a small portion of the negative possibilities. Dealing with an expanding floor can be very frustrating, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. In the next section, you’ll find out how you can prevent expansion and deal with current warping, cracking, and so on.
How to Deal with Expanding Wooden Floors
Bamboo grows in a humid environment, which means that it naturally requires a certain amount of moisture to thrive. It’s a very picky plant; it can’t have too much moisture or dryness, so you have to find the perfect balance. A lot of bamboo floors come pre-treated to prevent too much expansion, but it’s a good idea to plan for the worst.
Here’s a list of five things that you can do to deal with expanding bamboo floors:
- Bamboo Flooring Company recommends creating an expansion gap around the perimeter of bamboo floors. An expansion gap can be created using various tools, but the purpose of each tool is the same: To create a space between the wall and the floor, allowing the floor to expand without causing damage.
- Use bamboo treatment solutions. There are countless natural solutions these days, so there’s no reason that you can’t keep your floors healthy. Bamboo tends to get dry or moist from the surrounding climate. Use the proper treatment solutions to counterbalance the effects of cracking or expanding.
- Consider purchasing pre-treated bamboo floors. Despite what you might’ve been told by a local company, there are all sorts of different types of bamboo floors. You can choose whichever type fits the color scheme of your home, but make sure that it’s treated to prevent too much expansion.
- Cover the expansion gap with an extension of the bamboo floor. There are dozens of solutions, including extended molding and ramped flooring. The goal is to cover the expansion gap tools so they’re not obvious. They’ll have to stay there for quite some time, most of which are never removed.
- Keep the floors clean. This step might seem obvious, but dirty floors can cause expansion and shrinkage. If you use too many chemicals, especially those which contain alcohol, the floor will start to get dry and cracked. On the other hand, too much water will cause warping and expansion.
The effects of bamboo floor expansion can be devastating. If your whole house is covered with bamboo floors, then a small warping spot in one location can cause a ripple effect throughout the home. Keep your floors safe and visually appealing by following the helpful tips mentioned above.
Wrapping things up
Bamboo floors are as tough as it gets, but they still expand. There are all sorts of steps that you can take to keep your floors healthy. Keep an eye out for the aforementioned signs of wood expansion to know if it’s time to take action.
Here’s a quick recap of the article:
- Expanding bamboo floors can cause warping, cracks, dryness, and shrinkage.
- Prevent your floors from expanding by adding expansion gaps, cleaning them accordingly, and maintaining the proper level of humidity.
- Earthquakes, improper installation, and many other causes will make your bamboo floors expand and shift.
- Try to fix the problems as soon as they arise to prevent further expansion.