bamboo floors


Howdy all.
Been a while since I've posted here. SWMBO wants me to put in new floors on the house we just bought. She prefers bamboo flooring, but I've read mixed reviews. Anyone here have any experience with this. Looking for info on durability, ease of installation, etc. Never installed wood floors before, but the process seems pretty basic. Should I be able to handle it easily as long as I have plenty of time?
Thanks for any input!
Homer
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I like it, put some in my folks home and its held up very well. Easy to install, no special techniques needed for bamboo. Dave
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snipped-for-privacy@fan.com wrote:

My one experience putting in flooring was hell. Don't use glue-down unless you have lots of help. Racing against the drying time of the glue will wither the most patient of men. (Sorry, I don't know anything about bamboo....)
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snipped-for-privacy@fan.com wrote:

I just installed 250 square feet of bamboo tongue and groove in a family room this weekend. It did take me all day with the mechanical nailer (I didn't opt for the pneumatic one) but there were no major problems and it looks really nice (nicer than the laminate flooring that was my previous project). Obviously I can't say anything about durability yet, but the material does seem relatively hard.
-- -Harold Hill
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snipped-for-privacy@thinksystem.net wrote:

(Disclaimer... I am President of Fair Pacific Bamboo Flooring)
The hardness and durability of bamboo flooring depends on a number of factors; and hardness and durability are two different things. First, where the bamboo is grown, the species, and the age of the harvested planks all have a lot to do with the hardness. Second, natural (colored) bamboo flooring is generally harder than carbonized.
Hardness refers to the amount of force needed to dent the bamboo (there is a standardized measure for this). But durability is also affected by the finish, both its anti-scratch properties as well as its sheen. Also, dimensional stability could be factored into durability.
So, to address those issues, not necessarily in order:
Bamboo is relative dimensionally stable. For installations in the US, especially the western US, look for a company that kiln dries their bamboo to 8%-10% moisture. Most do not. Regardless of the planks you choose, be sure to acclimate them to your area for as long as possible. Fair Pacific recommends up to 72 hours for our planks, but most installations are done in as little as 36 hours with no serious issues.
Anti scratch is often confused with hardness, but they are different. A harder plank may scratch easily if the finish is junk and most bamboo sold by liquidators and the like has junk finish. Klumpp is a popular brand and can be good or bad, depending on the application. Treffert is a newer finish, and we find it more suitable for bamboo, as it is a little more resilient than Klumpp and tends to scratch much less. In addition, nearly all bamboo sold in the US is semi-gloss, and when this scratches it can be very evident, especially on darker planks. A satin sheen shows scratches much less readily.
Finally hardness has to do with how a plank will stand up to thing like high heels or dropped bowling balls :-). Bamboo grown in the eastern regions of China are best for flooring. This is nearly all Moso (also known as Mao) bamboo, and is at its peak when harvested at around 6 years. The natural bamboo planks are pretty hard, a little harder than maple. Carbonized planks are softer, around the same hardness as walnut flooring. This is because the carbonization process involves "cooking" the bamboo, which weakens the fibers somewhat.
Finally, some other things that indicate a quality plank...
Straight milling on automatic equipment if possible. Many of the cheap brands are manufactured using hand presses and mills. This makes for inconsistency in construction and milling.
Consistent use of quality materials with little or no filler. Companies that make long planks (like Fair Pacific Bamboo) must use higher quality stalks to begin with for the longer boards, so the shorter boards tend to have higher quality materials as well.
Crosswise layers in wide plank. Because a wide plank constructed with materials running parallel in all layer can warp or cup, it's important to make sure that wide plank bamboo uses a middle perpendicular layer. A few wide plank manufacturers use a cross-layer in their horizontal product, but Fair Pacific has found that a cross layer is also required in a vertical plank.
These are the basics. Please feel free to contact us (www.fairpacific.com) if anyone has more questions. We pride ourselves on our customer support, and even if you don't buy our planks, we're happy to help you get the best out of your bamboo floor.
-Greg Pasquariello President, Fair Pacific Bamboo Flooring http://www.fairpacific.com
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You know, it's refreshing to see disclosure like that, followed with an extremely useful and informative message.

See what I mean? The guy gives us a ton of good info, oh by the way he sells the stuff too. This is the sort of vendor participation which we have here from several other folks (...who speak the 'plane' truth), and which improves the group. Thanks for stopping in, Greg, and I hope you stick around.
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And Free Shipping!
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My two cents:
I recently evaluated bamboo as part of a plan to replace most of my house's carpeted areas with wood floors.
I'll skip the details and go straight for the bottom line: for my situation, the only bamboo that seemed to be appropriate was what's called strand-woven bamboo. It looks different from regular bamboo strips because the fibers are woven together as the name suggests. It's much denser, heavier and harder than normal bamboo - and looks nice, to boot. Normal "yellow" and carbonized bamboo weren't appropriate for my house because we have large dogs, and the vast majority of info I came across suggests that bamboo dents more easily than most wood flooring - especially carbonized bamboo, which was my preference because of its darker color. The exception to that is strand woven bamboo, which as I mentioned is much more dense than traditional bamboo, so it would have been suitable for my situation.
However, the catch in my case was that I needed to install over concrete. If you're installing over a wood sub-floor you have more options because you can staple, float, or glue. For me, floating or gluing down were the only options, and I decided after reading a lot of DIY nightmare stores that glue-down was not a good choice for a first time floor installer like myself. I could have put down a layer of plywood, CDX or similar and then gone with staples, but that would have added significantly to the cost, plus it would have raised the floors up by about 3/4" which would have made transitions between wood floor areas and other areas of the house very awkward.
As much as I would have preferred bamboo, I ended up going with an engineered Iroko floor, which looks very nice and has so far been easy to install as a floating floor (I've done two rooms so far).
My most important bit of advice is to do plenty of homework and research. I have several friends who bought bamboo from "odd lot" flooring places to save a buck, and ended up with pretty inconsistent-looking floors as a result. FWIW, I purchased the Iroko from builddirect.com and have been happy with the purchase so far (I have no relationship with them other than as a first-time customer).
PQ
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