When thinking of options for different spaces in your home, your bathrooms are bound to be a space that needs a bit of extra thought. Because of the role that bathrooms play in your home, it is important to fully understand what flooring options have the qualities and characteristics that work best for this space.
Given its recent rise in popularity, bamboo floors have become a real option for many who once viewed it as a niche or hard to acquire flooring material. From areas like the kitchen to the basement, it is much more common to see bamboo being used in homes today than even 15 years ago; but is bamboo the right option for your bathroom floors?
In general, bamboo flooring is not recommended as the primary option for your bathrooms (especially full baths with showers). Given the amount of humidity and moisture present in bathrooms, bamboo floors can potentially fade, expand and shrink, crack, and even loosen, among a host of other issues that may arise.
The amount of maintenance and care needed to upkeep bamboo floors when installed in bathrooms may not be worth the investment of time. While bamboo may seem like the perfect match for this space, you will find that the make up of bamboo flooring is less than ideal for the conditions found in most bathrooms.
In this article, we are going to cover the conditions found in most residential bathrooms and the primary reasons why bamboo is likely not a good idea for this area of your home. However, we’ll also share our tips on what to do if you’d still like to move forward with some element of bamboo in your bathroom.
The conditions found in most bathrooms
Before getting into the reasons why bamboo floors are not an ideal environment for bamboo floors, we’ll first look at what one can assume they’ll find in a typical bathroom.
Because full bathrooms are the area of the home where one would shower, the humidity in this area is likely to be higher than almost any other area of the home. Especially when the water used to bathe is set to extremely warm temperatures, you can expect a high build up of water vapor.
In addition to humidity caused by hot water, bathrooms will almost always be an area of the home where water coming in contact with the floor is very common. Whether it’s coming from the sink, toilet, or the shower, water spillage is a near inevitability when it comes to your bathroom.
These are factors that are important to think about as you prepare to make what some would consider a major investment in your home. You’ll want to be sure that you know the facts before making a mistake that could potentially cost you thousands in repairs and replacements.
11 Reasons Why You Should Not install Bamboo Flooring in your Bathroom
As we prepare to share our reasons, it important to note that a good portion of what we are referring to is especially true when it comes to full bathrooms that have showers. Later on in this article, we’ll share our thoughts on bamboo floors for half bathrooms.
Without further ado, here are our 11 primary reasons why you shouldn’t install bamboo flooring in your bathroom:
1. Water spillage from showers and sinks
Let’s face it: no matter which floors you decide to move forward with in your bathroom, it’s bound to come in contact with water. Because of the amount of water activity taking place in bathrooms, water spillage is almost a daily occurrence.
This wouldn’t be an issue for bamboo floors if you are able to detect the spill quickly enough and clean it up within the first 12 – 18 hours after the spill occurs. The issue arises when unseen spills are left to sit on the flooring surface for long periods of time.
Especially in homes with small children who like to splash around in the bath, or for those individuals who decide to bathe their pets inside of their tubs, you can expect a large amount of spillage that can get into corners of the bathroom that may go unnoticed.
As we’ve stated in another post related to bamboo floors getting wet, although this flooring type can be much more resistant to water when compared to others, any water left sitting for long periods of time may lead to permanent damage (see the additional points below for details).
2. High Humidity
As we mentioned earlier in the post, there isn’t much you can do about the build up of humidity in bathrooms. In most cases, even a dehumidifier won’t be able to alleviate the amount of humidity that exists in this space.
Bamboo flooring come from a living, organic grass and holds on to many of the qualities that exist in the plant that it is derived from. It is because of this reason that bamboo floors actually absorb the moisture and humidity that is present in the surrounding environment.
Especially when referring to solid horizontal or vertical bamboo floors, which most closely resemble the original stalks of bamboo, you can expect for there to be lasting damage due to the moisture absorbed through the humid conditions present in bathrooms.
3. Plumbing leaks
While there are plenty of pipes that carry water throughout the entire home, there are typically many more pipes and connections in bathrooms because of the bath, sink, and toilets. Where there are more pipes, there are potentially more opportunities for there to be some form of pipe leak or breakage over time that will lead to a large of amount of water coming in contact with your floors.
With other flooring types like tile, if there is a leak and the bathroom floors are exposed to a decent amount of water, you likely don’t have very much to worry about. However, when it comes to bamboo floors and other hardwood floors, there can be a complete and permanent damage that will likely require a completely new installation.
4. Damaging cleaning products
When thinking of how to clean bamboo floors and any of the other types of hardwood floors, the products that are used to clean the floors are something that should be heavily considered. Given the types of substances and liquids that flooring in the bathroom comes in contact with, it is likely going to need a cleaning product that won’t work well with bamboo.
Many of the products available for cleaning bathroom floors are not specifically made for bamboo flooring. Using a product like bleach can permanently damage bamboo, and therefore may result in having to use cleaning products that work well for bamboo floors, but don’t necessarily allow for the level of cleaning that one would expect to perform in the bathroom.
5. Constant cleaning and maintenance
Since bamboo floors can be extremely sensitive to water build-up left sitting for long periods of time, it is almost required to clean up as frequently as every day or every other day. Remember, we have yet to say that you cannot install bamboo floors in your bathroom, but one of the primary cons is the time commitment required.
In addition, because of the damage that can happen over time, bamboo flooring in bathrooms may eventually need additional rounds of refinishing to keep them looking as close to the original shade and color as possible (we also detail refinishing restrictions below); this may be an added expense if you need to buy/lease tools for refinishing or hire a professional.
One of the pros of bamboo flooring is the many colors, shades, and hues that have become available over the years. However, the aforementioned issues of standing water and moisture absorption can actually lead to your floors fading over time.
If the fading is due to a spill that is left sitting for too long, you’ll likely be left with a single area that is discolored (this is true no matter which space bamboo floors are installed in), but if there is widespread moisture build up, the entire floor space will likely change shades completely.
For most, the color they decide to move forward with is just as important as the material itself, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re going with a flooring option that is strong enough to withstand elements that will cause color damage.
7. Hard to seal completely
Many who recommend bamboo floors for bathrooms point to the fact that, during installation, a sealant can be applied to the floors that should allow for less water and other substances to seep through the cracks. While this helps as an added defense in most areas where bamboo flooring can be installed throughout the home, it is not enough for the conditions present in bathrooms.
While much of the area of the floors will be sealed and protected, areas like the corners and edges can be susceptible to water creeping in and causing damage. The biggest concern with this is that you will likely notice the damage when it is too late for any remedies.
Because the water and moisture through humidity can seep in slowly over time, there is likely water damage taking place for weeks or months before it is noticed.
8. Refinishing restrictions
Understanding the refinishing limitations when it comes to bamboo floors is important to understand how many opportunities you have to get your floors back to their original look. While we cover this at some length in our post covering the different types of bamboo flooring, engineered bamboo floors are likely the best option when it comes to spaces with lots of moisture or humidity.
The problem with engineered bamboo is that it is primarily made up of a base layer that consists of a mixed wood material. Only a thin layer of bamboo is attached to the bamboo as the top layer, and this limits the number of times your floors can be refinished.
On the other hand, solid horizontal and vertical bamboo can be refinished multiple times, but these are the worst types of bamboo floors for areas with conditions like the bathroom.
9. Build up of mold
Individuals also need to worry about the potential build up of mold and mildew which is most prevalent in humid environments. While bamboo does naturally contain certain antimicrobial properties, it is still susceptible to mold and mildew when exposed to humidity and moisture for longer periods.
Be certain that you understand the potential health hazards of mold growth before moving forward.
10. Potentially void your warranty
While many bamboo flooring options come with some form of warranty that provides some additional coverage, there are certain brands that will void your bamboo floors depending on where it is installed; the bathroom happens to be one of the areas of concern.
For those still planning on moving forward with bamboo floors in their bathroom, manufacturers will normally list this on the packaging or on their website, so checking in on this is a good idea in order to avoid issues in the future.
11. Tough to acclimate
We’ve previously written about bamboo flooring and acclimation and why it is important for bamboo floors to have some time to get adjusted to the conditions of the space where it will be installed. Because of the wide range of humidity and temperature that bamboo floors will be exposed to in bathrooms, it will be difficult for them to grow accustomed to the conditions.
The inability of bamboo flooring to acclimate can lead to shrinking when there is less humidity present (this can cause loosening and shifting of planks) and expanding when there is lots of humidity present (this can cause the bamboo planks to crack).
3 tips if you’re still determined to have bamboo in your bathroom
In cases where you’ve read all of our reasons above, you understand the risks that you’re taking, but you are still tied to having bamboo in your bathrooms in some form, there are still options.
Engineered bamboo floors
As mentioned previously, engineered bamboo is the best option for you if you’re planning on moving forward with bamboo flooring in your bathroom because it is the type that is made up of the least amount of bamboo. The compound of other woods makes the base layer more durable and potentially less prone to some of the issues that affect other types of bamboo floors.
You can also consider only installing bamboo floors in half bathrooms that don’t contain a shower. In general, half bathrooms will not deal with the same levels of humidity present in full bathrooms and these types of bathrooms may be less active.
Other bamboo accessories
Bamboo is a such a unique material that in recent years it has been used in products we use everyday. If you’re simply a fan of bamboo because of its eco-friendly qualities and want to use the material in some way in your bathroom, you may be a fan of some of the other bamboo products available.
Wrapping things up
While we hope that this article did not come off as too pessimistic or extremely negative on the topic, our goal is to always ensure that you are armed with the most accurate information without bias. If you’d like to get a separate opinion or have the humidity level in your bathroom measured before making a final decision, you can always reach out to a flooring professional who can provide a recommendation based on experience.