Flooring continues to be one of the biggest decisions and purchases consumers make for their homes. While looking at all of the different flooring options is important, it is just as important to understand how different flooring types work in different areas of your home.
One particular area of your home that may require some additional research is the basement. When thinking of the different flooring types you can install, it is particularly important to understand the conditions of your your space when thinking of bamboo floors in your basement.
In general, bamboo floors can work for your basement. Due to the unique combination of qualities that bamboo floors have, including durability, sturdiness, selection, and scratch-resistance (to name a few), bamboo floors tend to be a flooring type that perform much better than other flooring types (especially other wood floors) when installed in the basement. However, it is only recommended that you use engineered bamboo floors for your basement.
In this article, we’re going to detail the main benefits of installing bamboo floors in your basement, as well as potential drawbacks and things to look out for before making a final decision. We’ll also detail the differences between the different types of bamboo floors and give you our recommendations related to which type(s) work best for basements.
Things to consider before choosing bamboo floors for your basement
Even though bamboo floors can be a good option for your basement, before taking the leap and finalizing your flooring decision, it is important that you consider a few things before getting started. Skipping these steps will potentially cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run.
What kind of space is your basement or what do you expect to build in your basement?
Before evaluating bamboo floors as an option, you should have a very clear direction as it relates to what your basement will be (i.e. what will the layout and functional role of your basement be). You should know whether or not your basement contains or will contain rooms where water and moisture will be present frequently.
While it is generally OK for bamboo floors to get wet in small doses and infrequently (especially if cleaned up quickly), substances that are left sitting for long periods of time can potentially permanently damage bamboo floors.
Therefore, if you plan to have a kitchen or bathroom added to your basement, keep this in mind when working through how you should protect your floors from water and other substances.
Is your basement up to code?
This is one of the most important questions you should be asking yourself before doing work in your basement. If you complete the installation process for your bamboo floors before understanding if everything is in order, you will potentially have to perform double work if the basement is not up to code and additional work needs to be done.
Be sure to check what is required by your local building department. For basements, it is typical that things like an emergency exit or egress openings are required and should be taken care of before moving forward.
Understand the humidity level and average temperature in your basement
In our post related to bamboo flooring acclimation, we cover what level of acclimation that is needed for bamboo floors. In all cases, you want your bamboo floors to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the space that they will be installed in.
As the basement tends to be the area of a home that is more humid than other spaces, understanding this level will help you figure out how much bamboo floors will need to adjust before installation.
As bamboo floors tend to absorb moisture, not allowing your floors to acclimate and instead moving forward with the installation can cause your floors to swell and crack.
Check the moisture level in your basement
The flooring foundation in many basements is most typically made of concrete. Concrete floors will give off built up moisture that, over time, will damage bamboo floors.
Once you find out the moisture level in your basement, this should help to understand how much moisture protection your basement needs. You can measure the moisture in your concrete floors using a moisture meter.
Ensure your home has proper drainage/irrigation (particularly in your backyard)
If you’re an HGTV nerd like we are and you love keeping up with the latest shows, then you’ve certainly watched episodes of Bargain Mansions. In a nutshell, Tamara Day is a home flipper or takes over old, neglected mansions and turns them into dream homes.
In a recent episode, Tamara ran into an issue where her backyard was at an odd slant and it caused water to leak into the basement of the home she had just acquired; this was a huge added expense.
You’ll want to make sure that this is not an issue before moving forward with installing bamboo floors in your basement, as this will surely ruin your floors for good.
5 reasons why bamboo floors make sense for your basement
At this point, you know what to look out for before installing bamboo floors, but you will also want to know why bamboo floors can be a good option for your basement.
1. Help to bring a “natural” and “earthy” look to a typically dark space.
One of our favorite qualities of bamboo floors is that, not only do you know that they are made from renewable resources, but that eco-friendly benefit is also passed down to the look of bamboo floors.
Basements are often spaces that can lower natural light levels and lower ceilings than most other rooms in your home. Bamboo floors can be a nice option because they can add a much needed peaceful feel to your basement. and help to brighten the ambiance.
2. Wide selection of color and texture options
Very few people, and especially those who are newer to bamboo floors, understand the level of depth and breadth on colors that are currently offered. Over time, manufacturers of bamboo floors have been able to add to the portfolio in a way that allows you to get find many of the same options you would find in hardwood flooring types.
You won’t be worried about finding a shade of bamboo floors that match the look that you’re going for in your basement. For a glance at what options are out there, look no further than Green Building Supply’s wide selection of bamboo floors.
3. Can be extremely durable and sturdy depending on the quality you choose
While this is largely dependent on the quality of bamboo floors that you decide to move forward with and the process the manufacturer used to produce the floors, bamboo is naturally an extremely durable product; this durability is passed on to bamboo floors.
Some people choose to turn their basements into spaces like a “man cave” or “woman cave”, or even a space for kids to play in. If this is the purpose of your based, you’ll likely be more inclined to choose a flooring option that is built to last the test of time; bamboo floors are generally a great choice if this is important to you.
We’ve previously covered the Janka rating scale, and have detailed that is is the go-to measurement for understanding the “hardness” of different woods. Strand woven bamboo floors tend to land closer to the top, supporting the idea that bamboo floors are above average in terms of durability.
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4. Can be installed over concrete
As stated previously, many basement foundation use concrete as the primary material. Using either the floating or the glue down method, and ensuring that you check the moisture level of your concrete floors, bamboo floors can actually be installed relatively easily when compared to other types of floors.
5. Tend to be far more scratch resistant when compared to other types of flooring
Not only are bamboo floors very durable and sturdy, but depending on the type of bamboo floors you choose, they tend to be very resistant to scratches. This quality is made possible by the multiple layers of aluminum oxide that are used when finishing bamboo floors.
In addition, if the manufacturer use multiple layers of the aluminum oxide, even if scratches show up on your floors over time, you will be able to refinish and bring them back to their original look.
Potential drawbacks when installing bamboo floors in your basement
Your warranty can be voided
Depending on the brand that you move forward, there are actually exceptions in the warranty documentation that voids your warranty if installed in certain areas. Specifically, this is most often the case when installing bamboo floors in a basement or a bathroom.
If you are sure that the space where your bamboo floors will be installed is the basement, you’re much better off selecting a brand that stays active even when installing in your basement.
Lack of durability and scratch-resistance due to bad quality
While we’ve praised bamboo flooring in this article and others for its durability and sturdiness, this benefit is highly dependent on the quality of bamboo floors that you choose.
If choosing bamboo floors with either a thin top/wear layer or ones that feature only a couple of layers of aluminum oxide, then these may be more prone to bending, cracking, and scratching.
You’ll want to ensure that you aren’t choosing bamboo floors for your basement based on how inexpensive it can be, but for the unique qualities that make it a great option for your basement. Remember: bamboo floors are a great option, but not all bamboo floors are created equal.
The environment may be conducive to mold growth
If you are still in the early stages of evaluating bamboo floors, you may not have come across information that details bamboo’s antimicrobial properties; because of this, bamboo floors tend to be much less prone to mold and mildew build up that other types of floors.
Unfortunately, if you do not do your due diligence before installation and install bamboo floors in an extremely humid basement or over moisture-filled concrete floors, the antimicrobial properties may not have enough of a defense to stop mold build up.
Not only is mold documented to do damage to the health of humans, it is also particularly harmful to pets. The risk of mold or mildew build up could cause you to think twice about bamboo as an option for your basement.
Types of bamboo floors and how well they work in basements
As we’ve seen so far, there are certainly situations where bamboo floors make sense for your basement, but not all bamboo floors are created equal. We want to take a portion of this article to share a general overview on the three primary types of bamboo flooring and which one we think is your best option for the basement.
Engineered Bamboo Floors
Engineered bamboo floors, in many cases, have the lowest percentage of bamboo make up when compared to other bamboo floors. During the production process for this type of bamboo flooring, a thin layer of bamboo is place on top of/attached to a bottom layer that is normally made up of a harder material.
These bamboo floors offer the same bamboo look as other bamboo flooring options while generally being more resistant to moisture build; it is for this reason that we believe that bamboo floors are your best option for your basement.
One thing to consider, however, is that because of the thin layer that is used for engineered bamboo floors, it typically cannot be refinished; if you foresee activities that would somehow involve heavy objects or objects that can easily scratch surfaces, you may want to think twice before making a final decision.
Strand Woven Bamboo Floors
Strand woven bamboo floors are different from engineered bamboo in that they are still primarily made out of bamboo only. This process involves shredding and breaking down the bamboo into a pulp, mixing the pulp wiht an adhesive, and pressing this material together under high heat and pressure to create bamboo blocks that are then cut into the bamboo planks you will install.
As stated above, this process allows for strand woven bamboo to rank towards the top of the list when it comes to the Janka rating. Unfortunately, the manufacturing process for these bamboo floors still does not add enough to block against moisture.
We do not suggest using strand woven bamboo floors in your basement.
Vertical/Horizontal Bamboo Floors
Vertical or horizontal bamboo floors go through the least amount of transformation during the manufacturing process. The bamboo stalks are cut into thin strips which are the glued together (as the name suggests) horizontally or vertically.
This process does not in any way add properties to the bamboo floors that protect against moisture. So, as with strand woven bamboo floors, we do not suggest using vertical or horizontal bamboo floors for your basement.
In fact, we’d almost never recommend you use this type of bamboo floor if the space contains above average humidity or moisture.
Wrapping things up
In this post, we’ve provided everything we know when it comes to thinking about bamboo as a flooring option for your basement.
While there are certainly plenty of benefits when it comes to bamboo floors for your basement and a fair amount of reasons why this can be a great material for you in the long run, there are certainly an equal amount of things to consider before making a hasty decision.
As we recommend in many of our articles, we suggest that if you are close to making a decision, but are still second guessing yourself or are still seeking a second option, you should reach out to a professional; this will help you check off all of the boxes while utilizing the expertise of someone of performs this type of work for a living.