Bamboo Flooring FAQ
Can Bamboo Floors Be Refinished?
Question: We were very excited about our new floor but now that we need to make our final decision we were disappointed to hear the rep at EXPO say that we cannot refinish in any way their bamboo (manufactured by Bamtex). Other supplier websites have said their floors can "withstand up to three sandings," which isn't too reassuring. Do you have any experience with care and maintenance of these floors? What if a portion gets damaged? Can't we sand out and refinish? Or if we decided on a different shade -- can't we restain? We'd appreciate any other practical advice or experience. (e.g., how hard is it to get experienced installers, do stairs pose a problem?)
Reply:- Expo? The experience I've had with those folks is they don't know what they're talking about half the time. YES, bamboo can be refinished and YES they can be stained. Stairs? Yes, they can be done with solid treads and risers or nosing and plank. One benefit with repairs is.... it doesn't age (change color) like common hardwoods and a repair will not be noticeable with the right hardwood flooring installer.
Harder Than Maple?
Question: We've been looking at bamboo flooring as a choice for our new remodel. The stores I go to tell me that it's harder than Maple. Having done a few tests on both this does not seem to be the case. Can you help? TIA
Reply: I see that all over websites. Harder than this, more stable than that etc. There are so many different species it's hard to pinpoint or find a general guide as to what the exact hardness number is. They all vary. The darker carbonized, caramel, or darker shaded products is even harder to figure out. The color is achieved by pressure steaming. The longer the procedure, the softer the material becomes.
Our Floor Has Waves or Curls In It
Question: We just had some bamboo flooring installed one month ago and it has waves all over it. It's at the edges and looks like they're curling up. What can we do? What could have caused this?
Reply: Your description sounds like the flooring is "cupping." This often occurs when using a water based adhesive if it's glued to the subfloor. It could also be a result of moisture from below, such as a basement. I'm assuming this is a concrete subfloor?
Scratches Too Easy
Question: We had some bamboo flooring installed in our beach house six years ago and now they look horrible. Why do they scratch so easily? Is there anything we can do to bring them back to the way they were when new?
Reply: I believe it has more to do with people expecting too much from the product. Not your fault but the internet really and those trying to sell the product. Too much hype over how durable it is which leads to many problems. Depending on the depth of the scratches your floor could be screened and recoated. If they are worse, a complete refinishing would be in the cards.
Question: My husband and I are thinking of doing a remodel on our kitchen (I HOPE!) and he's thinking he really likes these floors and/or the cork. However, I've not heard very many good things regarding these floors. I haven't heard of cork at all. Can you help shed some light?
Reply: A large reason for bad press is similar to when laminate flooring first became popular. They were oversold touting indestructibility. In a way the same is true with bamboo as many manufacturers claim their stuff is so hard, which is not true in some cases. Taken care of properly with common sense maintenance, they should last as long as any hardwood floor.
Cork flooring is incredibly resilient and has been around for a long time. They can also be refinished if need be at a later date, but does require someone knowledgeable in how to handle properly.
Floor Store Says Aluminium Oxided. Worry Free
Question: The store we've been dealing with has this great bamboo and it has that new aluminum oxide finish on it. They tell me I probably won't have to worry about scratches. Is this true?
Reply: Any type of hardwood flooring will scratch. With aluminum oxide finishes they become more scratch resistant but won't prevent scratching. These types of claims are very similar to when Pergo was introduced.
Too Hard To Cut?
Question: Some people have told us bamboo is so hard it's extremely difficult to cut. What kind of tools do you think we need?
Reply: It seems like what you have been told is somewhat misleading. They could have it confused with other products that are used for furniture. Bamboo is near to red oak in so far as cutting. When doing any flooring projects it's best to use carbide tipped blades for any cutting. Incidentally, if you're allergic to hay or straw that's what it smells like when cutting.
Murphys Oil Soap
Question: Our cleaning lady insists on using Murphys oil soap on our new floor. What's your take on this?
Reply: Although I've been told Murphy's does work, the problems occur when directions are not followed. I've found it's best to stay away from Murphy's unless you know what you're doing. Wet swiffers are also an enemy to avoid, along with any steam vacs.
Question: We're looking at bamboo for our new home with radiant heat and hearing all sorts of stories from our local experts. Could you please settle some arguments. Thanks in advance.
Reply: Bamboo is ideal for in floor radiant heat. However, understanding how radiant heat and wood floors work successfully should be considered first. Also manufacturers will be different in their specs. Best to follow them to the letter to avoid any non compliance in warranties.
Lock & Fold
Question: We're looking for a floating bamboo floor but our local retailer says they don't make any. We would prefer the lock and fold type brands in the vertical natural type. Do you offer these or can you offers some manufacturer names?
Reply: There are a few click style products. Lock and fold? Sorry I cannot answer that. Unfortunately I cannot come up with any names except for Hartco for the click style.
Updated October 2012. Several companies offering click or lock and fold type include Teragren, Cali Bamboo, Hawa and Ambient Bamboo.
Cheap Prices At Floor & Decor
Question: We visited Home & Decor in Dallas, TX the other day and couldn't help wondering why the price of the bamboo their offering is so cheap. Home Depot wanted $4.89 versus the $1.89 at Decor. Why the large difference in price?
Reply: We also checked out one of their stores in Jacksonville, FL. We couldn't believe the prices either. Looking at the products a little closer you'll notice the finishes are very high gloss (will show scratching quickly) and the products are extremely soft. A good judge to check for hardness is to press your fingernail into the top of the board. Better brands will show minor indentations, but this one showed deep ones. Also their "longstrip type" appeared to be a "b" grade, that showed gapping between the pieces on the surface.
Pricing has a lot to do with quality. Don't expect longevity and scratch resistance with prices under $3.00 per square foot.
Dirty Natural Colored Floor
Question: We visited some friends the other night and couldn't help notice how dirty their new bamboo floor was. They have that lighter colored natural type. Are these floors hard to keep clean?
Reply: Keep clean? Not really, although the natural colored ones with micro bevels will show dirt more than the darker carbonized ones. One way to avoid dirt in micro bevels is to choose a square edged unfinished or floating floor. Most are not micro beveled.
Question: I am planning to install engineered bamboo wood over the concrete slab which is now covered with carpet. I have decided to glue directly to the slab but while installing tile in the kitchen I discovered that the slab is cracked. The crack looks to extend into one of the rooms where the wood will be installed. I used a crack protection kit for the tile but what is the proper procedure for glued wood? Also, is it a requirement to remove the baseboards in the areas where wood will be installed. Thank You
Reply: If the crack is not severe I wouldn't be concerned with it. Remove baseboards for hardwood? Hmmn, you've given me a new topic idea for the website. You can either leave the base on(easier) or remove and re-install it. Damage to the wallboard is likely to incur if your remove it. For the most part, many choose to leave the base on and install shoe mold or quarter round against it.
Bamboo Floor Rot?
Question: We are putting on an addition which needs to have a slab floor because of the distance to the septic. Should the slab be poured low enough to lay floor joists over it? My concern is glueing wood flooring to the slab. Will the wood rot? Will there be dampness problems? Is it much better to nail the flooring? Thank you and your fine site!
Reply: If the proper procedures are allowed there should be no problems for this type of flooring on concrete, though I would suggest calling in a professional in both cases. It's important to consider the grade around the home and have moisture barriers laid under the slab before it is poured.
Beveled Edges - Create Allergies?
Question: Please help! I've been on all the wood floor websites and can't find an answer to my question. We want to install prefinished (5/8" strip) flooring. The difference in cost between beveled edge and square edge is significant (almost $2 SF); what are the advantages of square edge? I'm guessing that dirt and dust would get trapped in the bevels (why do they even bother making beveled edges? any advantages?). The purpose of replacing the carpet with hardwood is to reduce allergies (both our kids have dust allergies). Would the beveled edge strips defeat the purpose? Thanks.
Reply: The cost difference has to do with the precision and/or time it takes to mill a square edged product. Beveled edges, eased edge, or micro bevels reduce the amount of "overwood" in the product. One board may be slightly higher than the next and may be seen or felt after the installation. In other words a beveled product won't be as noticeable and one reason so many are made that way.
Certified Inspector - Bad Installation
Question: Recently had some bamboo floors refinished and the contractor left me with swirl marks, laps, runs and mismatched areas. Where can I locate someone certified to inspect our floor and give an opinion as an expert witness in court?
Reply: The National Wood Flooring Association(www.nwfa.org) has a database of qualified inspectors. Our suggestion is locating someone that actually owns a local business that deals in these floor types on a consistent basis.
Wood Glue To Fix Popping Boards
Question: I bought a home w/ a 10 year old bamboo floor. Sometimes a few of the pieces will pop up, usually clinging to a bare foot. They pop right back in like from a jigsaw puzzle. No difficulty with that. HOWEVER, I would like to glue them back in and want to know if I can use a simple "wood glue" since a gallon of the adhesive is almost a gallon more than I would need? THANX!
Reply: Bostik hardwood flooring adhesive manufacturer provides caulk tube type containers that would work. Wow, that was a lot to say.
Boards Installed Across Hallway
Question: I have a master bedroom and a joining hall wall I intend to refloor with bamboo. It's now carpet over concrete. The question is about pattern direction design. The hallway is joined to the side of the bedroom like a T of sorts. The hall joins the bedroom on one of the long walls. The bedroom is about 15x13. The hall is about 4x12. That hall has a bathroom near the entrance but then it joins another hallway at a 90 angle. I don't really want to have two different directions of patterns so I'm thinking of installing the floor lengthwise in the hallway and continuing it into the bedroom the same direction even though the room is not long in that direction. What do you think? Thanks!
Reply: I've never been fond of the look of hardwood running the short dimension of a hallway. Makes it look cut-up for lack of a better word. Have you considered a diagonal look?
Installed Against Tile Floor
Question: I am planning to install a bamboo floor in my living, dining kitchen and entry. I don't want to go to all the trouble of taking up the existing tile in the kitchen and entry. If I take up the carpet then my floors will be uneven from the tile areas to the carpet area. Can I still put these floors in the entire area even though they are uneven? Should I do something to raise the previously carpeted area? I have concrete slab underneath. Help!!
Reply: You could add plywood to the areas so the new flooring would be the same vertical height as the tile in the entry and kitchen. The cost will be up there, but it's an option instead of removing the ceramic tile. Personally, I try to persuade folks to remove the tile as other areas(carpet) may become troublesome to transition or become more of a trip hazard.
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