Bamboo Flooring Moisture Content


Not long ago we came across a discussion on a flooring message board that proved to be particularly interesting. It dealt with a consumer that had been told by an installer to acclimate the product by as much as two months which we considered to be a bit on the severe side. However the customer resided in a dry western state. The only confusing part of testing bamboo is how to perform it. Then we put in a call into a representative of Tramex, the world leader in moisture testing.

How To Test?

Considering bamboo is not wood but a grass, the response was to compare samples that we worked with in the past, as they have no calibration for bamboo itself. We thought "what a great response" and have pursued it since. Bamboo will react to moisture swings just as wood flooring will. In earlier days a distributor claimed they had a great product at a great price and wanted to move 40,000 square feet. We thought, why not check it out.

It spooked us to say the least and we avoided it after picking up a sample box and did some testing. Pictured below from left to right: Sample board, actual product, and a product we've had great success with. We were told initially when concerns were expressed about the high moisture content to let it acclimate for two weeks. The reading of 13.5 is two months of acclimation and it's obvious it will not improve. The reading on the far right is one of our proven products that has been sitting in the same environment.

Testing moisture content in bamboo floors
Moisture content reading
From Sample Board
Bargain Bamboo
Established Brand

Okay, I'm sure you're wondering; how does 8.6% and 13.5% relate? The readings represent the moisture content in the material itself without any calibration to go by. 13.5% may perform well in humid climates or where high water tables are common, but that represents only a small portion of the United States. Installed in much drier climates, expect shrinkage and gapping once the material adjusts to the conditions of your area.

Recommendations

In conclusion we feel the proof is in the pictures. Be careful out there when shopping for bamboo flooring as you never know what you're going to get. We recommend proven brands or ones that have more visibility as seen in hundreds of flooring showrooms across the United States. It's more likely these brands will have a deeper customer support base if problems should occur.

Related Pages

Installing Bamboo Floors
Bamboo Styles
Maintenance Problems