Hot yoga flooring

If you’re opening a hot yoga studio right now and are looking to outfit the place and do a search on the internet for “hot yoga flooring”, you come up with results that range from concrete to carpet to wood flooring.  Problem is that there’s a down side to every one of those alternatives.  Concrete is unyielding and take a lot of heat to get warm.  Carpet gets wet and stays wet and then you have to address problems like molds and mildew.  Wood can get damaged by the high temperatures, fluctuating humidity and pooling perspiration. 

So, what’s a hot yoga studio owner to do? 

Well, we have three practical solutions to their problem.

In this post, let’s just look at the bamboo alternative.  We’ve talked a lot about bamboo, but really haven’t addressed its usefulness for yoga.  Certainly its Eastern aesthetic and green renewable properties fit right into the yoga motif.  But its physical properties make it equally appropriate.

See, as we’ve discussed, bamboo is a grass, and not a hardwood.  As such, it does not have the expansion and contraction to the degree that wood does.  When wood gets wet or is exposed to high humidity, the grain will absorb water and cause the board to expand and this expansion can cause boards to cup.  Of course the opposite occurs when it dries out and the contraction can cause boards to gap and even crack.  Not so with bamboo.  Yes, the boards will expand with moisture, but not to the same degree.  It will also move back in place much faster when it is dried out.  Since it is not moving as dramatically, it is also less likely to crack.

Same goes with water from perspiration on top of the boards.  This can often cause cupping of the boards in a wood floor, but it is unlikely to affect bamboo much at all.  In fast, we have done lab testing where we have taken a board and laid a soaking wet towel on both bamboo and hardwood and left it there for an entire day.  In the hardwood samples, we found significant damage to the face of the board, even after the board was allowed to dry.  In the bamboo sample, we saw absolutely no effect.

So there are some points in favor of bamboo for your yoga flooring.  In the next post, we’ll look at some of the other new alternatives for yoga rooms.

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23 Responses to Hot yoga flooring
  1. Do you know anything about PEM flooring? What are your thoughts on it? their website is WE are installing a welness clinic and it has two yoga studios. One hot…one not. Which type of flooring do you recommend for the hot studio? Is bamboo good for dance and would it be approproiate for the noon-heated studio? Thank you so much for your help. Sunny

    • Fitness Flooring May 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm Reply


      I’ve only heard of PEM flooring and have not seen a sample of the material, so I honestly don’t know enough about it. Bamboo is good for dance and would be appropriate for either studio, but certainly for the non-heated studio. On our website, we have several alternatives for the heated studio under our yoga category. Let us know how we can help you! And thanks for your post.

  2. Sunny,
    PEM floor will leave you with mildew on your subfloor. Its hard to keep clean and will carry a nice shade of green after time.. Check out Zebra Yoga Floor, it is the best floor for your hot yoga needs.

  3. We’re opening a hot yoga studio and trying to determine the optimal flooring.

  4. We are beginning our search for flooring for our hot studio. I have practiced on Zebra Yoga flooring, however, I wonder about the sustainability. Also, as our studio grows it may necessitate a move. Could you compare the expense of bamboo to Zebra flooring and any other comparable alternatives?
    I’m new to your discussion, sorry if you’ve already done this on a previous communication.

  5. Hi. I opened a new studio in June. I had Cali HD Bamboo installed in my studio in two colors. Natural with Dark planks every 24″ for as a guide for mat placement. My heating system is infrared radiant heat panels in the ceiling. The bamboo is tongue and groove and layed over a pad and glued along the edges.

    After the first two weeks, there was noticeable cupping of the planks.quite a few of the natural color planks started cracking at the ends and now thee are 1/4 to 3/8 inch gaps at several places in the room.

    However, not one of the dark planks has started cracking. I started looking real close at a couple if natural planks I had left (3) and one of them exhibited a hairline crack at one of the ends.

    The manufacture states that both colors went through the same process and says that the extreme heat and moisture is causing these concerns. I keep the room at 90 and 20-35 % humidity when not in use

    I have been to studios that have a bamboo floor but are heated by hot air furnaces. Their flooring looks great.

    Do you think there is a problem with the radiant heat or a manufacturing defect with the natural planks?

    • Fitness Flooring March 12, 2013 at 2:28 pm Reply

      Typically, the cupping that you describe has more to do with humidity than heat. Cupping typically is caused by excessive moisture beneath the flooring. With heat coming down from the ceiling, it’s easy to see why the top side would be drier than the bottom of the wood. Do you have the ability to raise the humidity in the room to something more along the lines of 45-50%?

      How thick is the pad that it is laid over and is it a foam pad?

      The manufacturer is correct – there is little difference in how the bamboo is made based on color. If one is cracking, the other one should crack as well. It may simply be that the darker boards are not under as much as the direct heat as the darker boards are. Is this at all a possibility?

      Please keep us posted about any of these possibilities.

    • I would like to update you on my bamboo floor. To start with, I believe the cupping was a result of the concrete not fully cured and the floor installer not setting the bamboo out and following manufacturing installation guidelines. However, the light colored boards continue to crack at the end and the dark colored boards don’t. Both boards receive the same exposure to the radiant heat. The manufacture also told me after the fact that the bamboo is not rated above 80 degrees, go figure.

      I am replacing my bamboo floor so i would caution anyone to get a warranty from the manufacture before you buy the bamboo. I don’t think you will get one for hot yoga.

      • Looks like the manufacturer should have told you that sooner. Of course if the source of the problem was the subfloor not being fully cured, almost any type of material would have damage to it. Too bad you had this experience with what has been a great product.

        Just so you know, our flooring comes with a five year warranty and has been installed in a number of hot yoga studios, although I’ll admit that none of them use radiant heat.

    • Comment *Hi Dennis thanks for sharing your problem, i also have a hot yoga studio and at the moment have flo tex carpet ,
      i am looking in to revamping with infa red heating which is fitted out with air flow also and the guy installing the heaters and air flow recommends bamboo flooring as he as seen and fitted a lot of hot yoga studio out that have this flooring ??
      do you have air flow system fitted also?

  6. I am looking at builing a new studio myself. I have researched flooring somewhat. I wonder if you are having the problem because the floor you installed is floating and not glued down. Not sure. Just a thought.

  7. I am researching yoga studio flooring as well. We are leaning towards bamboo because of the eco-friendliness of it.And no formaldehyde. I don’t see any mention of cork. We found bamboo for 1.99 sq ft and figured out that cork, which is also eco-friendly, would only cost a bit more. Any thoughts anyone? Thanks~

    • Fitness Flooring May 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm Reply

      Cork is an excellent option as well. The only time it becomes any type of a problem is if it is also used in group exercise, where a lot of sliding motions take place. But if you are using it solely for hot yoga, it should work well, especially if it is a prefinished cork.

  8. Comment *any new info on the best choice for flooring for hot yoga studio??? and also, what flooring would you use in a yoga studio that wasn’t heated-a restorative studio….I am opening a studio with two rooms-one hot, one not and would appreciate anyones advice..

    • Actually, we’ve found that our Exterra beech flooring reacts fine for hot yoga, but only IF the humidity can be kept constant, which is hard for many studios to achieve. However, if that’s the case, we’ve had a lot of luck with rolled vinyl floors. They can withstand the heat and the subsequent increase in humidity without any ill effects. Drop us an email if you’d like more information about those types of floors.

      • Hi, Like reading the comments on the different flooring. Planning to build a Moksha Hot Yoga set up. So I need all the info on flooring as I can get before we make the decision on purchasing the floor material and get all the info sorted on laying it in it’s best manner.
        Do you have more up to date info on flooring? Would love to hear all about the different flooring, pros and cons..

        With thanks.

        James Hart

        • James:

          I think we can help you out with that. I’ll have some information emailed to you.

  9. Hi! I’m currently in the process of building a barre studio that will also include hot yoga and hot pilates. I am doing my research on flooring at the moment and I’m leaning towards bamboo. I am looking for durability but I am also interested in cleanliness. I heard hardwood is the most hygienic, but I would love to learn more about the durability and how to best clean and care for a bamboo floor vs. hardwood floor.

    • Micheline:

      Thanks for posting! Hardwood and bamboo are pretty much the same when it comes to maintenance. Both have several layers of finish on them, which creates hygienic seal and will not promote the growth of molds or fungus. This finish is extremely durable and should last for many years, depending on traffic, which is typically light, except near the doors. After several years, if the finish is showing signs of wear, the floor can be recoated with a new layer of finish, or sanded and several new layers of finish laid down. The finish that is used is specifically formulated for traction, so it should not be slick under most circumstances. Does that answer your concern?

  10. Hi there guys. I was wondering if you could help me with some info.

    I’ve got a 5 year old floating bamboo surface with an underlay underneath then concrete base. In the last 6 months we have started running the studio as a yoga studio (not hot yoga). Just normal studio. Humidity and heat is high during the summer and the dehymidifier isn’t always on as the instructors sometimes turn it off leaving the environment quite sweaty for lots of hours.

    What’s been happening along the edges is bowing where the bamboos has expanded. And is getting worse.
    What do I do? Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Ventilation could be better but it’s only been happened since the last month or so during the hotter months. I thought bamboo didn’t expand much. I read above that it’s because there’s moisture now underneath the floor being soaked up?

    The surface has been fine up until now.

    If it was wet from below the surface , if I dried it out would using dehymidifier and heaters would the floor contract to where it was before? Because I was thinking of trimming the bamboo to give it more space to expand. But then if it contracts during the winter then we’re going to have gaps.

    Sham from London

    • Sham:

      I’m sorry to hear about your dilemma!

      I assume that by bowing, do you mean that the boards are higher in the middle than on the sides? Or is it the opposite problem, where the sides are higher than the middle?

      I’m assuming that it’s not so bad that the floor is buckling, or lifting off of the subfloor.

      Either way, you’re correct that it is a moisture problem and dehumidifying will help it and it should return to its normal state when all the water gets out of it. It’s true that bamboo doesn’t expand much, but if each board is only allowed to expand 1/64 of an inch, when you multiply that times the number of boards in your floor, you’ll likely see that it could have expanded more than an inch in total. Keep that dehumidifier running and as we are almost at the end of the warmer months, you should see it return to normal by the time the heat comes on again and it thoroughly dries out.

      Let us know if you have questions though!


      • Thanks for the reply. It’s lifting along one side along the skirting.
        So dehumidify and it should contract again. Will it definitely contract to how it used to be? Or could the expansion and the lifting be permanent.

        Thanks for your reply


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