Water can affect different flooring types in different ways. In this article, we’re going to explain whether or not bamboo floors can get wet.
In short, it is generally OK for bamboo floors to get wet as long as the moisture does not sit on the surface for long periods of time. If water or any other liquids are spilled on bamboo floors, it is important to clean it up as quickly as possible. If water and/or other liquids spill and are left sitting and build-up, bamboo floors can potentially begin to swell, deform, decolor, crack, and shrink.
It is important to understand how water can affect bamboo floors, how damage can be avoided, and what to do if your floors get wet and left with visible damage.
How does water affect bamboo floors?
As is the case with other wood flooring types, it is important to avoid excessive water contact with bamboo floors and to ensure that your floors are not in high moisture areas.
Here are a few ways that water can affect your bamboo floors:
While bamboo floors naturally come in all shades and colors, exposure to water can cause the surface to change colors outside of the original color when installed. This discoloration can present itself as lighter than the original color of your floors, or as darker stains.
Denting & Warping
Another common side effect of water damage is that your bamboo floors may begin to change shape and can often create large dents. This is especially important for individuals who have small children or pets, as a dip in your flooring can be dangerous when you are unable to avoid it.
Swelling and Cracking of Planks
Bamboo floors are made of natural materials and, like most organic materials, will tend to soak in liquids. If large areas of your bamboo floors are exposed to water or other liquids, they may begin to swell.
If the floor swells enough, this will cause the planks to crack and in many cases will need to be replaced.
Shrinking and Shifting of Planks
In addition to the expansion of the planks, if your floors do not crack, there is also the potential that the bamboo planks begin to shrink and cause your floors to shift. You may find that this shrinking will result in large gaps appearing between planks.
Along with all of the reasons stated in our other article related to why bamboo floors can become noisy, all of the reasons above can also cause bamboo floors to start to make creaking noises.
This is a result of the planks shifting and rubbing against each other, and even the dips in the floor causing the flooring surface to make contact with your subflooring material.
How to avoid water damage for bamboo floors?
In order to avoid any water and/or liquid damage to bamboo flooring, it is important to know the best ways to avoid said damage.
The primary way to avoid damage is to ensure that the liquid is cleaned up as quickly as possible. Small amounts of water for a short period of time will not have very much of an impact on bamboo floors. In fact, bamboo floors are known for being slightly more water-resistant than other types of wood floors.
Additionally, be sure to think through the location of your bamboo floors. While it may be tempting to cover your entire flooring surface with one type of flooring material, certain environments and locations are not ideal for bamboo floors.
Because of the moisture build-up and likelihood of water spillage, it is typically not recommended that bamboo floors be placed in bathrooms. Also, try to avoid entryways in your home that may be prone to water buildup. These can often go unnoticed until after the damage is done and the water has already left its mark.
Lastly, ensure that you are not walking on your bamboo floors with wet clothes and/or shoes. This is especially important for individuals who live in areas where it rains and/or snows often.
If you have already made the decision to install your bamboo floors in a high-moisture area or an area that is prone to being wet, you can also lay down small rugs that will collect and soak up any liquid that may spill. While there are many materials that are great for absorbing large amounts of liquid, cotton-based rugs and towels can do the trick just fine.
What to do if your bamboo floors have gotten wet and damaged?
While we’re sure you’ve done everything you could do to avoid damage to your floors, we know that there is still a chance that liquid can damage your bamboo floors.
If this is the case for you and you have no personal experience installing or repairing bamboo floors, then the first thing you should do is contact a professional. Getting in touch with a professional can save you a ton of time and money in the long run, and some local contractors may even be willing to come take a look at the damage at no cost to you in order to survey the effects and recommend a plan of action.
If you have experience with installation, repairing, or replacing bamboo floors, then you may be in a position to solve the problem yourself.
If the liquid only damaged a single plank or a small number of planks, it may be best to simply replace the planks that were damaged. Since the look and color of bamboo planks can vary dramatically from different manufacturers and retailers, it is important to find the flooring that closely resembles your current bamboo floors.
Also, if replacing only a few planks, you’ll want to let the replacement planks sit in the room where they will be installed for at least 48 hours in order to acclimate to the environment of the room.
If the liquid damaged a large part of your flooring surface, it may be a wise decision to completely replace your bamboo floors.
Finally, there still may be an opportunity for you to refinish your bamboo floors. Depending on how deep the damage is, you may be able to forgo a complete replacement.
In any case, a professional may be able to help you weigh all of your options. Keep in mind that many manufacturers and retailers will not honor your warranty if it is placed in a high-moisture area (e.g. bathrooms).
Additional measures you can take
Outside of everything that has been mentioned, there are some additional measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of water damage.
One of these measures is to apply a sealant soon after the bamboo flooring is installed. This is an added layer of protection that can help stop water from seeping into your bamboo floors and causing your planks to swell.
Additionally, more and more manufacturers and retailers are offering bamboo flooring products that are water-resistant. While the decision to purchase these products over others is ultimately up to the consumer, the claims made by these flooring companies suggest that the material is so water-resistant that it can be used in any room you’d like.