Often times when making a decision about whether or not bamboo floors are the best choice for your project, you may begin to wonder how durable bamboo flooring is.
In general, bamboo floors are quite durable, especially when compared to other types of flooring options. If treated properly and maintained well, bamboo floors can keep close to their original look and feel for at least two decades. There are also examples of bamboo floors that have lasted much longer. Much of this is dependent on proper care and understanding what can cause bamboo floors to wear down.
Let’s take some time to understand what makes bamboo floors so durable, things that can impact the durability of your bamboo floors, and tips to help you properly care for your floors.
What makes bamboo floors so durable?
Now that you know that bamboo floors are a good option if durability is important to you, it’s helpful to understand why they are durable.
Janka Rating Scale
For starters, bamboo floors rank well ahead of other popular wood floors on the Janka rating scale, which measures the hardness of wood. While this rating can vary based on where the wood is sourced from, it is directionally accurate and helps show how much more durable bamboo can be if making a comparison on the solidity of a wood type.
The reason why hardness and the Janka scale are important in understanding the durability of bamboo flooring is because what is being measured is how susceptible a flooring type is to wears and denting. The methodology behind the Janka test takes a small steel ball and measures how much force is needed to embed that ball into a particular wood type.
For bamboo floors, a Janka rating that sits at the middle of the pack or (for certain types of bamboo floors like stranded bamboo) at the top of the pack tells us that we’re talking about a relatively durable material.
Stronger than many other materials
It has been noted that bamboo fibers are actually stronger than steel. When looking at tensile strength, which is the ability for a material to resist being pulled apart, bamboo has continued to beat out steel. It has also shown the ability to withstand compression better than concrete.
In other words, one of the primary reasons why bamboo is used as a flooring surface is because of how durable the fibers make it when compared to many other building materials.
You can imagine how much stronger and durable strand-woven bamboo floors are after being compressed over and over again under high heat and pressure. Outside of bamboo’s natural state, which is already extremely strong, this compounding effect adds to the durability of bamboo floors.
Finally, a Penn State study which looked at the mechanical strength properties of bamboo made the recommendation that the country of Zimbabwe should begin to cultivate and utilize bamboo as a building material because of the strength advantages it has over other wood materials.
The bottom line is: there’s no denying how strong bamboo is.
Another main reason why bamboo floors are so durable it because of how flexible the material is.
If you’ve ever been near an area where lots of bamboo is being grown, you may have noticed how much the trees move and sway without snapping or cracking. Once again, this is due to the strong fibers that are a natural element of bamboo.
This same flexibility takes form when bamboo is transformed into flooring, as most types of bamboo floors are flexible enough to slightly dip and bend as you walk on them without creating any cracks.
Based on this reason and the others stated above, you can be fairly certain that your bamboo floors will stand the test of time.
8 tips to help your bamboo floors remain durable
As stated above, bamboo floors are naturally more durable than most other wood materials, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can break your floors down over time.
Here are some tips to help make sure you can take advantage of the durability and get the most life out of your bamboo floors:
1. Try not to use a wet or steam mop to clean your floors.
While not detrimental in small doses, continuous and/or excessive use of wet or steam mops to clean your bamboo floors can lead to the breakdown of your floors’ fibers and can cause discoloration and even warping.
Instead, we recommend you clean your floors with products like the ones listed in our “best of” product list that recommends products that will have little to no impact to the surface of your bamboo floors.
2. Only use cleaning chemicals that are made for cleaning bamboo/wood floors.
It can often be tempting to use a cleaning chemical that can give you the best immediate clean, but what you aren’t able to see is how those chemicals are breaking down the fibers in your bamboo floors over time. A couple of examples of chemicals or liquids than can damage your floors are bleach and/or any vinegar-based cleaning solution.
We recommend taking the time to research which solutions are best for cleaning bamboo floors, such as the hardwood spray mentioned above.
3. Clean up spills and liquid as quickly as possible.
In our article about how water and other liquids can impact your bamboo floors, we detail the effect that moisture can have on this particular flooring material. In order to prevent a shortened life for your bamboo floors, we recommend cleaning up spills as quickly as possible.
Bamboo floors have been known to see permanent damage when water or other liquids are left sitting for a period longer than 24 hours. Once again, ensure that you are using cleaning materials that do not damage your floors (i.e. microfiber) in order to clean spills.
4. Do not install your floors in rooms with high levels of moisture (e.g. bathrooms).
Unless you have purchased bamboo floors that have been engineered to withstand the high moisture and humidity that exists in rooms like your bathrooms, we recommend limiting the amount of bamboo flooring you place in these areas.
Over time, the moisture build up may cause your bamboo planks to swell and potentially crack. This may also cause your floors to begin to shift around and create gaps between planks.
5. Use a vacuum or soft-bristled broom to clean up dirt, sand, and pebbles.
Small objects like pebbles can often scratch and scuff your bamboo floors. In addition, built up dirt and sand can seep in between your planks and can often force enough pressure for gaps to appear.
Prevent this by vacuuming or sweeping your floors at least 2 – 3 times a week in order to gather up as much of this damaging material as possible. Ensure that your are using a broom or vacuum that uses a soft brush; this will also prevent scratches.
6. Consider investing in a dehumidifier if you live in a high-humidity environment
This tip may not apply to all areas, but can definitely apply to homes in regions where there are tropical-like conditions, lots of rain, or homes near the ocean (e.g. South Florida, Pacific Northwest). Purchasing a dehumidifier is more of a nice-to-have addition, but can help a ton in limiting the amount of moisture that your floors are coming in contact with.
In addition, dehumidifiers help with making your bamboo floors less susceptible to the build up of mold and mildew.
7. Limit how often you are walking on your bamboo floors with heavy, rigged footwear.
If possible, get into the habit of taking off your footwear when you enter your home. Limiting the amount of time you walk on your floors with heavy footwear can help with preventing scratching. Also, you are often unaware of the amount of dirt and debris you bring in from outdoors.
If you have children who are actively involved in extracurricular activities that require them to wear cleats, be sure to have them remove these before entering an area with bamboo floors.
8. Place soft, felt tips or rubber caps at the bottom of your furniture legs.
This is especially important when dealing with heavier-than-average pieces of furniture. Furniture legs made of sharper materials can easily scratch the surface of your bamboo floors and even create large dents. Should your furniture legs have sharp corners and hit a plank at a particular angle, you bamboo floors can be knocked out of place.
Use these tips to ensure you can keep your bamboo floors looking and feeling their best for years to come.