Basements are generally damp and moist than the other areas of the building. This is why choosing the flooring for the basement becomes challenging. When finding moisture-resistant flooring for the basement, bamboo is one option that comes to mind. But is it the best basement flooring option you have? An analysis is needed to answer that.
Bamboo is quite a reliable flooring option for the basement rather I should say quite commonly used. But that doesn’t mean you have to go for the same option. In this article, my intention is to provide you with enough information so that you can make a wise decision about choosing bamboo for basement flooring. Judging the pros and cons of basement bamboo flooring, you can decide confidently.
All who are considering bamboo flooring for the basement, I request to read this article once. Here, you will know the pros, cons, and many more of installing bamboo in the basement. So let’s dive deeper into the topic.
Best Bamboo Flooring Basement: The Suitable Type
Not all bamboo floorings are suitable for the basement. This is because the manufacturing procedures for each type of bamboo flooring are different. Though made from bamboo stalks, the processing creates a disparity in durability and moisture resistance.
For instance, vertical and horizontal bamboo floorings are not as durable as strand-woven bamboo flooring. Horizontal bamboo flooring has bamboo sheets bonded horizontally. Similarly, fine bamboo sheets have adhered vertically in vertical bamboo flooring. But strand woven bamboo has fine bamboo fibers bonded by pressure and heat. This makes it more compact, tough, and moisture-resistant.
But when it comes to the basement flooring, you have one more option: engineered stranded bamboo flooring. Stranded bamboo flooring is durable but engineered bamboo flooring is more durable. But how? Let’s see that in the comparison chart below:
|Solid Stranded Bamboo
|Engineered Stranded Bamboo
|Solid bamboo fibers bonded together
|Bamboo layer with a plywood or particle board base
|More durable than solid stranded bamboo
|Costlier than engineered bamboo
|Cheaper than solid bamboo
|Same as engineered bamboo
|Same as solid bamboo
As you can see, engineered stranded bamboo has an extra layer of plywood beneath the bamboo sheet. This adds strength and stability to the flooring. Moisture resistance and durability are enhanced too. Besides, as less bamboo is needed in engineered bamboo flooring, the cost is less than solid stranded bamboo flooring.
The longevity of both materials would be the same as both have bamboo on the surface. But maintenance is easier with engineered bamboo flooring. Spills and moisture harm engineered bamboo less than it harms solid bamboo. However, note that neither of them is waterproof. They both need the care to last long in the basement conditions.
3 Steps To Glue Down Bamboo Flooring Basement: Know The Right Method
See, installing bamboo flooring in the basement is truly a sensitive task. The moist condition makes it quite problematic to install bamboo planks on the basement subfloor. This is why knowing the right method is very important to get the best result.
Note that you can also install a floating floor in the basement. While that is a good option too, gluing installs the planks permanently and firmly. As gluing the bamboo flooring would be more challenging, you need to do it right. Otherwise, you may end up messing it up.
So let’s start with the steps of gluing down bamboo flooring basement:
Step 1: Check The Moisture Level And Acclimate The Bamboo
Note that acclimation of the bamboo flooring is mandatory. If you skip this, the bamboo planks won’t get the scope to adapt to the moisture level in the basement. If the planks don’t reach the equilibrium point, expansion and contraction of bamboo would damage it severely during high humid conditions.
Before acclimation, determine the moisture level in the area. Remember that the moisture level should be between 40 to 60%. The temperature of the basement should be between 60 to 80 Fahrenheit. These conditions are ideal for bamboo acclimation.
For acclimation, you have to unpack the bamboo planks and lay them in the basement for at least 3 days. Some may need more time to acclimate. To know the duration, you should check the manufacturer’s guidelines. Acclimate them well before installing.
Step 2: Prepare The Floor And Repair Water Pipes
A basement is generally a damp place. But the subfloor should not contain any moisture. This is why you have to sweep and mop the subfloor very well. Ventilate the area well to make the subfloor dry. In case the subfloor is uneven, you have to sand and polish the surface to make it flat.
After you remove any extra moisture from the subfloor, you have to apply a vapor barrier if it is concrete. The concrete subfloor frequently releases moisture which can affect the bamboo flooring. Therefore, you have to apply a vapor barrier to make the subfloor prepared for bamboo installation.
Next, you should check all the water pipes to find leakages. Fix these issues before bamboo installation to stay on the safe side. Otherwise, the leakage of water can damage the bamboo flooring.
Step 3: Lay The Bamboo Planks
Now that you are prepared, you have to lay the planks. This process is similar to installing bamboo planks in any other area of the room. Just leave an expansion gap of ¼ inch at the seams. Use expansion spacers to leave these gaps. Then measure the area of the flooring and cut the bamboo planks into shapes.
The first row has to be perfect. Use a chalk line to mark the first row. Apply flexible adhesive on the subfloor but don’t flood the area. Then install the planks carefully on the area. As you finish installing the first row of bamboo planks, move to the next row and move towards the door. Make sure to leave the gaps at the sides. The alignment should be correct to avoid any mess on the flooring.
This way, bamboo planks can be installed on the subfloor. After you install the planks, keep them for 2 days for the adhesive to settle. After the bamboo planks settle, remove the expansion spacers and mold the seams. Keep the room ventilated to let the planks settle.
Advantages Of Bamboo Flooring Basement: 5 Reasons To Choose
There are significant reasons why choosing bamboo flooring for the basement is logical. It is quite a popular flooring option for people who want a stunning basement floor at a low cost. So before you finalize, you can note down the advantages:
1. Excellent Aesthetic Appearance:
Needless to say, bamboo gives a smooth flooring texture with a light and soothing color tone. Bamboo flooring has a consistency like no other natural flooring. Its earthy wood-like appearance makes it look natural, raw, and beautiful. It is suitable for both modern and old interiors.
2. Extremely Durable:
Bamboo flooring is very tough and durable. With a Janka hardness rating of 3000, bamboo proves to be harder than most of the common hardwood floorings. Due to its tough and hard structure, bamboo is difficult to break, crack, or scratch. This makes it suitable for basement flooring.
3. Adequate Moisture Resistance:
Note that bamboo flooring is not waterproof but quite water-resistant. Minimal exposure to moisture won’t affect bamboo flooring. It can hold moisture for around 20 to 30 hours. So if you miss out on cleaning the spills immediately, it won’t damage it much. Especially if you pick engineered stranded bamboo, the moisture resistance is quite good.
4. Can Be Floated Or Glued:
You can choose any installation method you want. For permanent flooring, you can glue down the bamboo planks on the subfloor. If you are not willing to get permanent flooring and the subfloor is not even, you can click and lock the planks too. So both installation ways can be applied in bamboo flooring.
5. Easy Maintenance:
If you clean the flooring regularly and keep the surface dry, basement bamboo flooring won’t damage. You should provide space for expansion and keep moisture away from the flooring. Also, water leakage should be prevented. If needed, you may finish the floor from time to time. These are some basic tasks you need to do for maintaining a bamboo flooring basement.
3 Major Drawbacks Of Bamboo Flooring Basement: Why Not To Choose
Yes, bamboo is quite a good material for basement flooring. But it has some drawbacks that you should know. These drawbacks can make you cautious and you can even switch to other options if you want.
Here are 3 disadvantages of using bamboo flooring in the basement:
1. Long Exposure Of Moisture Damages Bamboo:
Remember I have mentioned that bamboo is water-resistant but not waterproof. It can hold water or moisture for about 30 hours. But if the moisture is still there, it will start penetrating the surface and destroy the bonding and color of the floor. Therefore, cleaning the moisture from the surface is necessary to avoid warping or discoloration of bamboo.
2. Molds And Mildew May Grow In Moist Condition:
Now when the surface is kept moist, it encourages the growth of molds and mildew. Bamboo has a lot of starch and sugar in it that feeds molds and mildews. When the area is moist for a long time, molds and mildews easily settle on the bamboo flooring. This makes the flooring unhygienic and discolored.
3. Low-Quality Bamboos Are Risky:
By any chance, if you choose low-quality bamboo for basement flooring, you are surely going to suffer. While I suggest using engineered stranded bamboo only, using low-quality bamboo means to waste your money. The hardness and moisture resistance of cheap bamboo is so low that it won’t be able to adapt to moist conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is Bamboo Flooring The Cheapest Flooring For A Basement?
Bamboo flooring is generally not considered the cheapest flooring option for a basement. While prices can vary depending on the quality and brand, bamboo flooring tends to be more expensive compared to other flooring materials commonly used in basements.
When considering budget-friendly flooring options for basements, some common choices include vinyl flooring, laminate flooring, and carpet tiles. These materials often come at a lower cost and can still provide durability and moisture resistance, which are essential factors to consider in basement environments.
It’s important to evaluate your specific needs, budget, and the requirements of your basement space when selecting flooring. Additionally, consulting with flooring professionals or conducting thorough research can help you make an informed decision about the most cost-effective and suitable flooring option for your basement.
What To Check Before Installing Bamboo Flooring Basement?
As bamboo is not waterproof, you should look into some factors before choosing it for your basement. Below is a list of considerations that you should look into before installing bamboo flooring:
- Check for any leakage in the water pipes or faults in the drainage system. Such issues increase the moisture level in the basement damaging the bamboo flooring;
- Don’t forget to check the humidity and temperature in the basement and acclimate the bamboo flooring. If you miss out on doing this, bamboo would expand and contract, cracking the flooring. So you should acclimate the plank in ideal moisture and temperature in the basement;
- If the basement has a concrete subfloor, you have to apply a vapor barrier to it. Otherwise, concrete will release moisture up to the bamboo damaging the core. Applying a vapor barrier prevents moisture from going up.
Note these points and be cautious and ready before installing bamboo flooring in the basement.
Is Bamboo Flooring Good For Basements?
Bamboo flooring can be a suitable choice for basements, but there are some considerations to keep in mind before opting for it:
- Moisture: Basements can be prone to higher levels of moisture compared to other areas of the house. Bamboo is generally more resistant to moisture compared to hardwood flooring, but it is still susceptible to water damage and warping if exposed to excessive moisture. It’s important to ensure your basement has proper moisture control measures in place, such as adequate insulation, vapor barriers, and a dry basement environment.
- Subfloor: Bamboo flooring should not be installed directly on concrete basement floors. A proper subfloor system, such as a moisture barrier or plywood subfloor, should be in place to provide a stable and moisture-resistant surface for the bamboo flooring.
- Acclimation: Bamboo flooring, like any other wood-based flooring, needs to acclimate to the basement environment before installation. This process involves allowing the bamboo planks to adjust to the humidity and temperature of the basement for a certain period, as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Quality and Finish: Ensure you choose high-quality bamboo flooring specifically designed for below-grade installations. This type of flooring often has enhanced moisture resistance and may come with a factory-applied finish that adds an extra layer of protection.
Is Bamboo Flooring Water Resistant?
Bamboo flooring is generally more resistant to water compared to traditional hardwood flooring, but it is not completely waterproof. Bamboo is a natural material made from compressed bamboo fibers, and while it can resist water to some extent, it is still susceptible to damage if exposed to excessive moisture or standing water for prolonged periods.
Most bamboo flooring is pre-finished with multiple coats of sealant, which provides some water resistance. However, it is important to note that the level of water resistance can vary depending on the quality of the bamboo flooring and the specific manufacturer’s specifications.
To maintain the water resistance of bamboo flooring, it is recommended to promptly clean up spills or any water that comes into contact with the flooring. Avoid leaving standing water on the surface and make sure to wipe up any moisture immediately.
It’s crucial to note that for areas with higher moisture levels, such as basements or bathrooms, additional precautions should be taken when considering bamboo flooring. Proper subfloor preparation, moisture barriers, and ensuring a controlled moisture environment are important factors to consider for the longevity of bamboo flooring in these areas.
How To Install Bamboo Flooring On Concrete?
Installing bamboo flooring on concrete requires proper preparation and the use of appropriate materials and techniques. Here is a general guide to help you with the installation process:
- Acclimate the Bamboo Flooring:
- Allow the bamboo flooring to acclimate to the room where it will be installed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended acclimation period, typically around 72 hours.
- Prepare the Concrete Subfloor:
- Ensure that the concrete subfloor is clean, dry, and level. Remove any debris, adhesive residue, or paint from the surface.
- Repair any cracks or imperfections in the concrete using a suitable patching compound, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Test the moisture levels of the concrete using a moisture meter. The moisture content should be within the acceptable range specified by the bamboo flooring manufacturer.
- Install a Moisture Barrier:
- Lay down a moisture barrier over the concrete subfloor to help prevent moisture from seeping into the bamboo flooring. Use a suitable moisture barrier recommended for bamboo flooring installations.
- Roll out the moisture barrier, overlapping the seams by a few inches and securing it to the concrete using adhesive or tape.
- Install Underlayment (Optional):
- Consider installing an underlayment for added insulation, soundproofing, and cushioning. Choose an underlayment designed for use with bamboo flooring and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation.
- Install the Bamboo Flooring:
- Start in a corner of the room and lay down the first row of bamboo flooring with the tongue side facing the wall. Leave a small gap between the flooring and the wall to allow for expansion.
- Use a suitable adhesive recommended by the bamboo flooring manufacturer to attach the bamboo planks to the concrete subfloor. Apply the adhesive according to the manufacturer’s instructions, working in small sections at a time.
- Insert the tongue of each bamboo plank into the groove of the previous plank and tap them together using a tapping block and mallet.
- Continue installing the bamboo flooring row by row, cutting the last piece of each row as needed to fit.
- Use spacers along the walls to maintain an expansion gap. Remove the spacers once the installation is complete.
- Finishing Touches:
- Trim any excess underlayment or moisture barrier along the edges of the room.
- Install baseboards or moldings to cover the expansion gap and provide a finished look to the installation.
Is It Better To Glue Or Click-lock Bamboo Flooring Basement?
In my opinion and observations, gluing down bamboo planks is the best way. This makes the flooring long-lasting, firm, and durable. A floating floor is also an option but isn’t as strong as glued flooring.
Gluing bamboo planks not only makes it strong but also allows bamboo to expand. With flexible adhesive, bamboo flooring can expand and shrink in moist conditions without damaging the planks. In fact, the adhesive can even soundproof the flooring!
Also, firm bonding between the adhesive and planks doesn’t allow moisture to travel much between the layers. However, removing glued planks is difficult while removing a floating floor is simpler. So you see, anyone wanting permanent flooring should opt for glued bamboo flooring in the basement.
What Are The Issues With Installing Bamboo Flooring Basements?
Well, there are some common issues that happen all the time you install flooring in the basement. The same problems occur with bamboo flooring as well. Here is a list of issues that you may face with installing bamboo flooring in basements:
- High humid levels in the basement are not controllable. And long exposure to moisture and water can damage bamboo flooring severely;
- Regular cleaning and drying of the floor are mandatory when you install bamboo in the basement. This keeps the moisture away from the flooring. But then again, regular cleaning is a hassle;
- In case of poor drainage or water leakage, the moisture level in the floor increases. This discolors, warps, and distorts bamboo flooring. Also, this encourages the growth of molds.
These are some common issues that you may face if bamboo flooring is installed in the basement.
Is Hardwood Better Than Bamboo Flooring In the Basement?
Hardwood has an excellent aesthetic appearance that many may choose over bamboo. But in reality, bamboo flooring is more suitable as well as sustainable than hardwood.
Bamboo is harder and tougher than most hardwood species. The surface is more scratch-resistant and tough than hardwood. Also, hardwood needs sealing and refinishing to be moderately water-resistant.
So evidently, bamboo flooring is naturally more water-resistant than hardwood. Also, cleaning and maintaining bamboo is easier than caring for hardwood flooring. Thus clearly, bamboo is a better candidate for basement flooring than hardwood.
Bamboo is quite a good option for basement flooring if you can maintain it. With its hardness, aesthetic appearance, and moisture resistance, it is considered quite a good choice for a basement.
Now that you have all the information, it is your turn to think and choose. Does bamboo seem a good option for basement flooring? Think and decide!