PlaNYC hopes to make New York the “Greatest Greenest City” by 2030. Look what they are doing with their transportation infrastructure to get there –
Evaluating the Pros and Cons of engineered vs solid strand woven bamboo
Woven, strand-woven or stranded bamboo construction, as it’s sometimes called, differs dramatically than both horizontal and vertical construction. Instead of gluing strips of bamboo together in a uniform way, strands of bamboo fibers are compressed under intense pressure to form large blocks or lumber and then are cut into veneers to create various products, such as flooring. (refer to pics)
Solid strand bamboo flooring – Is typically available in thickness from 3/8” to 3/4” and, as indicated, is solid bamboo in its entirety in a uni direction without cross ply. In tradition nail down installation solid bamboo flooring is the preferred product.
Engineered bamboo flooring, by definition, is cross laminated. These floors are real wood from top to bottom vs. Pergo which is particle board with a picture of wood laminated on it.“ The cross laminations may be comprised of bamboo or may be a species of wood, such as poplar, fir or rubber wood with a veneer of bamboo as the wear layer. This veneer, which can be quite thin (often more affordable) to a full thickness above the tongue (typically of higher quality and price point) sits on top of the substrate which will allow you to refinish your floor 2-3 times based on the veneer thickness. The benefit of an engineered product is that the substrate provides additional lateral support which prevents the flooring from expanding and contracting as much as solid planks. Engineered floors were developed in part so that they could be installed over radiant heat and because they are more stable in areas where hardwood alone does not hold up well.
Moisture and humidity is the enemy.
The bottom line is that traditional solid wood floors were nailed down over wood subfloors and typically had similar moisture levels so that they were “balanced” in their moisture and humidity levels. With current building methods concrete subfloors are commonly present and or radiant heating which typically offer higher humidity and moisture levels. The advent of a engineered product offers more stability in these conditions. If the bamboo flooring will be exposed to humidity and moisture an engineered product is preferred, while in all other conditions a solid product is preferable. The following is a typical warranty statement concerning humidity.
“Unexpected changes to subfloor moisture content or changes to Relative Humidity outside of the approved range of 35-55% may cause bamboo flooring to gap, cup, buckle, or otherwise dimensionally change. Bamboo Flooring must be installed into a relative humidity controlled environment over a moisture barrier or vapor retarder.”
There are three sources of moisture to be aware of (pertains to all wood floors); humidity due to local weather conditions, moisture from surface below the flooring and human induced moisture. All need to be managed and fortunately quite easy to do.
Humidity due to local weather can be managed by warming the house during cold periods and cooling the house during hotter periods. If near the ocean or foggy weather keep doors and windows closed during these seasons to keep interior humidity down. Install an affordable humidity meter to warn you of high or low levels so that proper action can be taken.
Moisture from below is typically due to concrete moisture which can be taken care of by installing a moisture barrier. This can be in the form of a moisture barrie pad or a warrantied trowel down product that is compatible with the warrantied glue.
Human induced moisture is easily reduced by typical care. Meaning wipe up spilled or tracked water and fix leaks as soon as they appear. Do not ever wet mop a wood or bamboo floor.
There are three ways to install bamboo flooring. You should consider what type of subfloor surface you’ll be attaching the bamboo boards to and whether you’ll be doing the job yourself or hiring a professional installer.
- Bamboo boards are nailed onto the subfloor with nails or staples. Any type of bamboo flooring can be installed through nailing, which seems to be the preferred method for wood subfloors.
- Flooring is glued directly to the subfloor. Any style of bamboo flooring can be glued to a subfloor. Glueing to concrete is much more tricky and requires a moisture test and most possibly a layer moisture vapor protection before applying glue. Make sure to use a glue warrantied by the manufacturer.
- Floating, click-on or snap-lock flooring is the perfect option for do-it-yourselfers. There is no nailing or gluing involved, meaning less mess with the same results. The bamboo planks are fitted during milling with cuts and grooves that click into one another and lie flat on the subfloor. Not all types of bamboo floors can be floated – engineered floors are the most popular floated floors. If you’re going to tackle this job yourself, follow all instructions carefully. For example, when you install floating flooring, you have to leave enough expansion room, or you’ll end up with buckling and other problems.
Remember, a cheap bamboo floor will yield cheap results. As the saying goes, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.