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Is Bamboo Flooring a Viable Option for Residential Kitchens?

The major concern when purchasing any flooring material for a kitchen is the environmental stress placed on the floor. This can be a pretty tough environment, where food and food ingredients will splatter, spill, and splash across the room, sending a variety of colorful staining agents raining down on your beautiful floors. Water and other liquids are almost certain to spill onto the floor from time to time, and pots, pans, and dishes are likely to strike the floor occasionally. No wonder flooring choices here are so important.

In its natural state, untreated bamboo doesn’t have much of a chance in the kitchen. While it is less absorbent than hardwood, it is still a natural material, and if liquids come into contact with its surface they will seep in. This can cause staining, warping, and mold growth. That is why bamboo flooring in a kitchen needs to be treated with a proper sealing agent in order to create a clear, impervious top layer that can be easily and frequently cleaned.

Most bamboo sealing agents are comprised primarily of polyurethane. In some cases, wax can be used, but this is only recommended in commercial applications, as it will require periodic industrial buffing. Many bamboo materials come pre-sealed, and engineered flooring actually has a variably thick, invisible wear layer that protects its surface, making it nearly impervious to stains and moisture—except through its seams.

There are several different types of bamboo flooring that you can purchase for your kitchen, and they all have very different properties and characteristics.

  • Solid bamboo floor planks consist of solid bamboo fibers throughout the planks, bonded together with adhesive resins.
  • Strand-woven bamboo is a similar product, but one in which the bamboo fibers are woven together at 90-degree angles, giving it very good strength and hardness. Both of these product types can be sanded down for refinishing when they become worn.
  • Engineered bamboo is a product created by applying a very thin layer of natural bamboo to a backing material. It is the most affordable product with good water resistance, but it cannot be refinished.

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