As the threats of global warming, oil depletion and food and energy crises loom larger, people are looking for greener alternatives to prevent further environmental destruction. From energy-saving lights to sustainable flooring materials, eco-friendly products can reduce your carbon footprint and save money in the long run.
Two of the biggest advantages of using bamboo for your flooring needs are its extreme durability and ability to re-grow quickly. Unlike hardwood trees which can take over 30 years to regenerate before harvesting, bamboo plants regrow in as little as five years.
In spite of these benefits, bamboo has certain drawbacks including being easily scratched and prone to cracking with changing humidity levels.
Is Bamboo a Good Flooring Material for Your Kitchen?
If you’re considering putting bamboo flooring in your kitchen, knowing its benefits and shortcomings is important. This is especially true because the kitchen is a heavily-trafficked area that’s exposed to a lot of moisture.
This post outlines the pros and cons of bamboo flooring so you can make an informed decision.
Advantages of Using Bamboo Flooring in Your Kitchen
As mentioned, bamboo is a fast-growing grass that’s entirely natural. Aside from its ability to regenerate every five years, it offers excellent soil stability. This means the soil around it is rigid and there’s little chance of erosion or other environmental damage. Unlike hardwood harvesting, which requires felling trees, bamboo is harvested in such a way that its roots are left in the ground to ensure a healthy ecological balance.
Somewhat Resistant to Moisture
Although not completely waterproof, bamboo is more resistant to water damage than traditional wood. Unless water accumulates on your floor for more than 20 hours, it won’t damage your floors. This is great for kitchens where water spillage and leakage are primary concerns. Pre-sealed and engineered bamboo have a protective layer that makes them almost impervious to moisture-related problems
Easy to Clean and Maintain
Regular sweeping or vacuuming and occasional mopping (using a microfiber mop) are all you need to keep bamboo flooring in good shape. No special cleaning agents are required to clean it, unlike traditional hardwood or other types of floors. This feature is highly beneficial for busy homeowners who can’t devote much time to floor cleaning.
Any water or other liquid spills should be wiped up immediately to prevent unsightly stains due to liquid seeping into the material. You should also avoid walking with shoes on the floor (especially high heels) and apply felt protector pads to the bottom of furniture, big appliances and other heavy objects.
Almost all types of bamboo (natural and un-carbonized) are hard, durable and considered similar to oak in terms of strength. However, one particular type of bamboo, known as strand-woven bamboo, is incredibly strong and hard-wearing due to how it’s manufactured. In fact, it’s considered over twice as hard as oak.
Bamboo flooring is also dimensionally stable, meaning it doesn’t warp or buckle with changes in temperature and humidity. You can fit it over almost any subfloor that’s been properly prepared. It’s also ideal for spaces like kitchens that experience heavy traffic and are subject to extensive wear and tear.
Allergen- and Bug-Resistant
Bamboo flooring is hard, which means dust, dirt, pollen, animal hair and other allergens are easily noticed and swept away. Since bamboo is (moderately) water-resistant and doesn’t harbor moisture the way hardwood does, there’s less chance of mould and mildew.
If you’re worried about VOCs (volatile organic compounds) like formaldehyde in its production and manufacture, rest assured that most high-quality bamboo floors contain little or no amount. However, it’s always advisable to check this with your flooring contractor before buying.
Disadvantages of Using Bamboo Flooring in Your Kitchen
Prone to Scratches
One of the biggest drawbacks of bamboo floors is its susceptibility to dents and scratches from, among other sources, heavy furniture, pet claws, high heels and dropped objects . Although any type of bamboo floor can develop scratches and abrasions over time, low-quality ones are at the highest risk.
Sensitive to Excessive Water and Humidity
Although more resistant to water damage than hardwood, bamboo can warp, discolour or even grow mould if exposed to excessive moisture. Humidity can also make bamboo planks expand, while dry heat can cause it to shrink. Either condition can result in cracks and breakage.
Potential for Immaturity
Although bamboo grows quickly, it should be given time to mature and harden before being harvested. Otherwise, the flooring will look attractive at first but become soft and brittle over time. Usually, non carbonized and strand-woven bamboo flooring is strong and durable, whereas dark bamboo indicates a weakened structure and brittleness.
Depending on the manufacturing process, bamboo flooring can have off-gassing issues from formaldehyde-based glues and finishes. As the bamboo needs to first be sliced or shredded, it must then be joined back together to build planks that are finally used in flooring. Sometimes, the adhesive used can release VOCs. However, studies suggest that if the percentage of emission is negligible (which it mostly is), it isn’t very harmful.
In many ways, bamboo floors are similar to hardwood. While bamboo is mostly safe and non-allergenic, people with chemical sensitivities can react to even small amounts of VOCs present in the resins. Is bamboo flooring the right option for your kitchen? Consider your health, budget and requirements before making that decision.