Yes, bamboo flooring requires an expansion gap to allow for the planks of flooring to naturally expand and contract without causing any damage or distortion.
What is an expansion gap?
An expansion gap is a space that is left around the perimeter of a room when laying wooden or bamboo flooring. It is an essential part of flooring installation that allows for the natural movements in the bamboo. As bamboo is a natural product it will absorb any humidity in the air and start to expand. Similarly, as the humidity drops and the air dries out the planks of bamboo flooring will reduce in size again. This is a natural process for bamboo and wooden flooring and occurs seasonally with temperature and humidity changes. The expansion space allows the flooring to expand and contract into the gap so that the flooring can move without causing any damage or distortion to the bamboo flooring itself. If an appropriate expansion gap has not been left, the flooring planks will have no room for movement, so will start to rise up and distort.
What size expansion gap do I need?
At least 10mm should be left around the entire edge of the room and anywhere that the flooring may come into contact with fixed objects such as, walls, door frames, radiator pipes and fireplaces. Special flooring spacers can be used to make sure the correct sized gap is left. These are then removed once the floor has been fitted. If you are laying bamboo flooring in a larger room (with a width of 10 meters or more) then small gaps, sometimes known as credit card slots, should also be left in between every fifth flooring plank. This is to ensure that the bamboo flooring can react to natural fluctuations in temperature and humidity and expand and contract evenly across a greater space. This can only be done if the bamboo flooring is glued, screwed or nailed to the existing subfloor.
What can I use to cover up an expansion gap?
There are many different flooring products and accessories available to cover up an expansion gap including: skirting boards, quarter rounds and T-mouldings. These products are available in bamboo to match or complement your flooring choice.