Due to the density of strand woven flooring, we recommend only using a high PSI, high quality pneumatic nailer, such as the Powernail 50P Flex or the Primatech Q550. These nail guns require an air compressor. You must use an 18 gauge cleat, as larger cleats will cause dimpling. Staple guns will not work on strand woven floors.
For moldings installation you may need to use a Bostich Porter 23 gauge micro nailer or similar gun.
For all guns, make sure cleats and nails are set properly before continuing to the next row, failure to do so may result in goosebumps/dimpling. You may need to try several pressure/PSI settings before finding a setting that will work – test on sacrificial planks. Ensure the connector hose, seal and air compressor are fully functional and have no tears or defects.
If you do not use the correct nail gun or cleat size, you may get dimpling in your floors. Read this important document about goosebumps and dimpling in strand woven bamboo.
NAIL GUN PRESSURE TOO HIGH: ALWAYS practice on a few planks to ensure the correct PSI setting on the nail gun. If the pressure is too high the nail will split the plank. When using the mallet always use small, light taps - as opposed to large, forceful taps – this is the best to get a snug fit.
NAIL GUN PRESSURE TOO LOW: If the PSI is too low you will end up with dimpling (“goosebumps”) on the face of the floor. Always inspect for dimpling from a low angle and with backlighting after installing the first two rows, because it’s difficult to see when standing directly over the area. It is the responsibility of the installer to check each row after it has been nailed down to ensure all cleats are sufficiently embedded in the planks so they don't cause dimpling in the finished floor upon fastening successive rows.
NAIL GUN PRESSURE JUST RIGHT: You will know that the pressure is just right when the cleat is flush or slightly below the surface of the tongue.
Tongues are slightly splitting – that is okay!
When nailing down extremely dense hardwoods like strand bamboo and eucalyptus there is a chance that the tongue on the planks will crack or split when the cleat is driven in. As long as less than 30% of the cleats have splitting around them, and the splitting is minor, this is perfectly normal and is not considered a defect (your floor will still be covered under the warranty if this happens) as the cleat is still firmly driven into the rest of the board keeping it securely in place. When splitting is happening try to use less force when striking the nailer with the mallet. Below is an image showing acceptable splitting, if occuring on less than 30% of the planks.
Do not acclimate the floors on top of concrete, carpet with concrete under it, crawl spaces or any other sub-floor that may contain moisture, without first laying a 6 mil polyethelyne plastic barrier down, or the flooring will soak up the moisture from the concrete and shrink post-installation. Make sure to extend the apron/border of the plastic barrer at least 18 inches beyond the flooring boxes.
We recommend ordering 10% extra for cutting and waste. If you have one or two large rooms that are square, and you are careful making cuts, you can probably get away with 7%. If you will be installing the flooring diagonally then it is likely you will need 15% extra for waste.
Also keep in mind that bamboo/hardwood floors come in unique dye lots so it is a good idea to hold on to a few extra boxes in case you ever need to make a repair down the line. The extra boxes can be stored in an attic, basement or even a garage, just remember to acclimate all floors prior to installation, for at least 72 hours, within the environment in which they’re going to live.
Important Note About Crawl Spaces: Many wood floors fail due to the failure of the installer to address moisture in crawl spaces. If you have a crawl space under your home or new flooring, you must properly remedy this moisture.
You must have a high quality vapor barrier or moisture insulation (with 100% blockage) or the moisture coming up from the crawl space will damage the flooring. A ground layer cover is required - must be 6 mil minimum black polyethylene with joints overlapping at least 6 inches, and sealed with moisture-resistant tape.There must be a minimum of 18′′ from the ground to underside of joists, the polyethelene should also extend at least 6" up the block walls and be sealed there as well, and it should have perimeter venting equal to at least 1.5% of the crawl space total square footage. The vents should be properly placed for cross-ventilation. We recommend you read this document about what happens when crawl spaces are not sealed.
Important Note About Installing Over An Unconditioned Space (such as a garage): Subfloor moisture penetration of improperly sealed sub-floors over unconditioned spaces is a common cause of wood floor failure. If you are gluing the floor down over such a space, you must use a 100% urethane adhesive that contains a moisture barrier. If you are nailing the floor down over such a space, you will need to follow these steps:
In an unfinished space, staple a 6 mil plastic sheet to the ceiling of the unconditioned space with joints overlapping at least 6 inches, and seal with moisture-resistant tape. In a finished space, coat the ceiling with two layers of high-gloss paint.
Lay down two layers of 15 lb asphalt saturated felt paper at a 90 degree angle to each other over the plywood before beginning the nail down installation. Thus, lay down the first layer and be careful not to overlap the rolls as this may cause an un-level surface. Once the first layer is down, install the second layer at a 90 degree angle and care not to overlap
On a floor that is nailed down or glued down we recommend that you do not place furniture that exceeds 2,000 lbs or the maximum load your joists will hold, of which it is the installer's responsibility to determine.
However with floating floors there are a few exceptions as to what you can set on them. A piano is fine. A piece of furniture with legs, or with just a few points of contact with the floor, is fine. For pieces of furniture without legs - is the piece of furniture flat across the bottom, and how long is it in comparison to the run of flooring it will sit on? The reason we ask is, in a floating installation you want to avoid "pinning" a long row of successive flooring planks across the widths of the planks, and more so if that run of planks takes up a large section of the overall run. This is more applicable across the widths of the planks (tangentially) than down the lengths of the planks (longitudinally).
The floor needs to expand and contract during seasonal cycles, and pinning the planks down will inhibit this movement and may cause gaps to form between the planks. This is why, for example, we don't recommend installation of floating flooring under kitchen cabinets. If the bottom of the furniture is flat and it stretches across the widths of the planks for more than 50% of that given run, and it's over 200 lbs, we suggest gluing or nailing the floor down. Otherwise you'll be fine.
Our solid (wood all the way through) floors can be put under cabinets if they are being nailed down or glued down. Floating floors of any kind should not be installed under cabinets. This is because you do not want to pin down an entire side of a room of floating floors as it will inhibit their ability to expand and contract naturally.
Important note about Gypcrete: Gypcrete will sometimes exhibit a layer of debris that floats to the surface while being poured. This is usually obvious and if it occurs will need to be removed with coarse open grit paper on a buffer until a solid surface is reached. You will then use a diluted coat of acrylic primer to seal the surface; however, it must soak in and not leave a film. Once the gypcrete is prepped and primed you can proceed with a normal installation.
A note about Lauan/Luan/Luaun: While most urethane adhesives bond to Luan and thus you could glue our floors down to it, Luan is generally considered an unstable substrate for tile or hardwood flooring. It doesn’t have much strength, so it may contribute to squeaking or bouncing. Our recommendation is always to remove it before installing a new floor.
Wood subfloors must be dry and well secured. For nail-down installations, nail or screw every 6" along joists to avoid squeaking. If the subfloor is not level, sand down high spots and fill low spots with an underlayment patch or self-leveler such as Bostik Duralevel 83P Self-Leveling Underlayment.
Concrete must be fully cured, at least for 60 days. If it is not level, grind down high spots and fill low spots with leveling compound. The concrete must be flat to 3/16" per 10- foot radius. Do not install on concrete unless you are sure it stays dry year-round. All concrete must be tested for moisture, or a moisture barrier product must be used. We offer Bilder's Ultimate moisture barrier, adhesive and sound barrier all in one.
Please click here to view which installation methods can be used over specific subfloors.
Properly manufactured bamboo and eucalyptus floors (like ours!) are similar to mid-range hardwoods when it comes to dimensional stability, so they can be installed in all climates whether very dry or very humid. Our floors have been installed around the world from the jungles of Kenya to the heights of the Rockies.
All wood flooring expands and contracts with the seasons due to changes in humidity - there are no exceptions. The key is to control your interior humidity as to avoid excessive swings in humidity throughout the year, as these will cause expansion and contraction in your wood/bamboo. The recommended humidity setting for our floors is 40%-60% in humid climates and 35%-55% in dry climates but even dryer and more humid settings may suffice as long as your humidity is stable (within a 20% range) throughout the year. We do recommend to try to keep the humidity above 25% in almost all cases. In very humid or very dry climates, just follow these tips and you will be all set:
a. Acclimate your flooring for at least 10-14 days prior to installation (instead of the normal 72 hours) in the environment in which they are going to be lived on. Ensure all boxes are opened properly so that the planks can breathe.
b. Glue the flooring down. The elasticity in the glue allows the floors to breathe easily through humidity changes.
c. Make sure to leave ¼ - ½ inch of expansion gap around your flooring perimeter at the time of installation.
d. Try to keep your interior humidity setting consistently in the same 20% range year round (opening windows for a day won't hurt the floors), even via the use of humidifiers/dehumidifiers if necessary. If you allow big humidity swings, larger gaps may develop between your planks during dry spells and they'll close during wet spells.
We highly recommend reading our post about installing bamboo flooring in humid and dry climates too.
And here's a good article about installation: glue down vs nail down vs floating.
*Please note that these are general guidelines. Please contact your radiant heat system manufacturer prior to installation to ensure that your specific system is compatible with bamboo flooring as well as if they have any specific requirements.
**Only our 9/16” thick multi-ply engineered click lock bamboo flooring is warranted over radiant heat.
***We strongly recommend that you read the NWFA Radiant Heat Protocol prior to beginning your floor planning.
PRIOR TO INSTALLATION – RADIANT HEAT SUBFLOORS
If the radiant heat system is embedded in concrete, turn the radiant heat system on with the temperature set on high for 5-6 days. The should help burn off any moisture residing in the concrete prior to installation and this should be done the week leading up to installation. Next, the temperature should be set to 65° F and held at that temperature 24 hours prior to acclimating the floors – during acclimation – during installation – and for 72 hours after installation.
AFTER INSTALLATION / MAINTENANCE
Some adhesives will fail spectacularly if you use the incorrect trowel size and design, so using the correct trowel(s) is a must. We currently sell two types: 1/4" x 1/8” Square notch for our basic adhesive and 1/4" x 1/4" V-Notch for our vapor and sound barrier adhesive. The V-Notch is designed to give 100% coverage of adhesive so you have a complete layer/seal on the slab. Don’t skimp when you’re troweling down vapor barrier glue!
The Square notch trowel does not give full coverage but puts down enough glue for 85% coverage, enough to hold down the floor on plywood or places where sound and moisture barriers are not needed. Square notch trowels typically yield about 140 feet per pail and V notch trowels typically yield about 125 feet per pail.
Most squeaky floors are the result of the house settling and the lumber drying out and shrinking, or the sub-floor nails having come loose over years of seasonal expansion and contraction cycles, resulting in the structural wood parts rubbing up against each other and/or the nails. Loose sub-flooring will emit high frequency chirping noises.
There are several ways to remedy this issue, including drilling screws up under the sub-floor to tighten the lumber up against each other. We suggest that you consult with a local flooring installer to review all options, as some are dependent on how your flooring is installed.
Our flooring has been used in all environments but it is only warranted for indoor use and when installed according to our bamboo flooring installatin guidelines which can be found as a downloadable pdf on this page: https://www.ambientbp.com/bamboo-flooring-installation.php
Most prefinished wood floors are packaged shortly after coming off the finish line, and what you smell is actually slight off-gassing from the polyurethane finish; however there is no need for worry. These are not harmful emissions and within 2-4 days the odor will disappear. If you don’t like the smell we suggest that you open a few windows to air the room out.
The U.S. Green Building Council actually ranks varnish and lacquer as two of the worst offenders in terms of VOC off-gassing, so your wood furniture may be emitting more than your wood floors. Federal laws call for varnishes to include less than 450 grams of VOCs per liter, and they require less then 350 grams per liter for lacquers.
All of our products meet the CARB Phase 2 indoor air standard and we test them on a yearly basis, at random, using a third party U.S. laboratory. You can see all of our test results here: https://www.ambientbp.com/urea-formaldehyde-free-bamboo-flooring.php
We recommend that you only use 18 gauge cleats. If you use 16 gauge cleats they are likely to cause dimpling on your floors, as described in this article: https://www.ambientbp.com/pdf/avoiddimpling.pdf
Furthermore, they may cause cracks and splits in the tongue that will cause further issues down the road.
Bamboo and hardwood floors should be kept at least 18-24 inches away from high-heat sources or the heat can dry them out and cause irreparable shrinkage. Here are 2 rules of thumb to follow and you should be okay:
1. Install the bamboo flooring at least 2 feet away from the stove by putting in an apron of brick/stone/similar around the stove.
2. Acclimate the bamboo flooring that will be installed near the stove in the same area where it will be installed, with the stove turned on (no closer and no farther than where it will be installed).
Vapor barrier underlayments are not used under nailed down floors because once you nail through them they’re no longer a vapor barrier. 3 in 1 underlayments are used under floating floors only (they’re not used under nail downs because the compression of the foam results in loosening of the cleats over time).
Usually in a finished basement the humidity doesn't affect the hardwoods on the main level above it, unless the basement is excessively wet due to a high water table, uncovered ground layer, or similar problem.
That being said, if there is any concern about a basement having excessive humidity, we recommend putting a portable dehumidifier right in the basement. Different humidifiers will condition different sized spaces so make sure you buy one that's big enough for your entire basement. We've also heard of folks taping 6 mil or thicker polyethelene sheeting (tarp) to the ceiling of the basement but that can get tricky.
In cases where the basement humidity is slightly elevated we've also heard of installers laying down two layers of 15 lb felt paper under the flooring first (on top of the subfloor), with the second layer of 15 lb felt being laid in a perpendicular fashion to the first, to help "wick away" moisture from the floors. Please note however that the 15 lb felt paper is definitely not considered a vapor barrier, it just helps wick away some moisture.
Yes, you can store flooring boxes in a covered area outside of the home under the following conditions:
Remember, storing boxes in a garage or non-climate controlled space is not considered acclimation. In fact, for floors that are stored in a garage/shed first, we recommend acclimating them at least 2-3 extra days on top of the normal acclimation period. The boxes will still need to be brought into the space in which they're going to be installed first (for acclimation) as per our installation instructions.
All types of engineered bamboo flooring can be installed below grade, but it is not recommend that solid hardwood or bamboo flooring be installed below grade. We also recommend the use of a quality 3 in 1 underlayment to serve as a moisture barrier and for footfall noise reduction.
Remember that you'll want to acclimate the floors in the same room in which they're going to be installed at least 72 hours prior to installation, and be careful not to acclimate them directly on concrete or over crawl spaces as they will absorb moisture, which will cause problems. Instead, ensure to lay down an 8 mil thick plastic sheet or 3 in 1 underlayment for the boxes to sit on during acclimation, and you'll want the apron of the sheet to extend about 1 foot away from the boxes themselves for added protection. The interior humidity settings of the basement must be maintained between 40%-60% just like on any other level in the home.
We do not recommend installers. However, you have several options available to you to locate a good installer:
The adhesives that we sell are moisture-cured urethane adhesives. These types of adhesives cure (dry) faster when the humidity levels are higher. This is why adhesives usually come with a tack time and a cure time in relation to temperature and humidity. Thus, the same pail opened in Florida may dry in 12 hours where it may take 16 hours in Colorado. We recommend allowing the adhesive to cure at least 12-15 hours before walking on it, and 24 hours before moving heavy furniture back into place.
If you have a humidity modulator in your home that will successfully and constantly keep your indoor humidity at a level of 40%-60%, you do not have any run limits on your floating wood floor. This humidity range can also be achieved via the use of a portable humidifer or dehumidifier. Also, some areas in the Southern United States have relatively stable humidity year around (like Southern California or Florida) so this usually isn't an issue in those areas.
However, if you live in an area with distinct seasons and wide variance in humidity and you don't have a way to control your humidity, you'll need to be careful with your run limits. We recommend reading our flooring installation guidelines in all cases.
Due to the nature of strand woven bamboo and eucalyptus it is difficult to achieve accurate moisture readings from the variety of moisture meters that exist on the market today, so we don't require testing the flooring before the installation. You will however want to make sure the floors have been stored in a dry, covered area and have not been left out in freezing temperatures for more than 24 hours.
Our floors are already optimized for moisture content to be acclimated and installed almost anywhere in the world. We do however require that testing be performed on the subfloor to ensure it's not emitting more than 12% humidity/moisture before, during and after installation.
The installer/homeowner must also ensure that they acclimate and maintain the flooring in conditions between 35%-55%. Please note that to acclimate flooring on to of concrete or an unsealed crawl space you must first lay down a (minimum) 8 mm polyethylene tarp or similar vapor barrier under the acclimating boxes, with the apron of the vapor barrier extending out at least 18 inches from the opened boxes. (This is to prevent the flooring from absorbing moisture while acclimating).
Typically, if the finished basement is climate controlled, you do not need a moisture barrier in between the subfloor and the new floor you are installing. However, some basements can emit excessive humidity – upwards of 70%. To be sure, we recommend testing the humidity with a hygrometer to get an accurate idea of the indoor air humidity. If elevated moisture coming form the basement or crawl space is a concern, you have a few options. First, you can glue the floor down using a moisture barrier adhesive. If it is a click lock floor, then you would float the floor on top of a padded underlayment that contains a moisture blocking protective film. If you are nailing down the floor, you can lay two layers of either 15 lb or 30 lb felt paper, with the second layer crossed over the first layer.
Adhesive remover wipes are designed to clean up wet adhesive before it dries. Wet glue is much more difficult to remove with soap and water, but the wipes have a special compound that helps to break down the glue.
Once flooring adhesive dries it is impossible to remove and will irreparably damage your floor finish as the topcoats will be stripped away when you remove the dried glue. Absolutely never use mineral spirits to remove any glue from our floors as mineral spirits will damage uv cured urethane finishes If adhesive dries on your finish we advise that you dump some of the Adhesive Remover liquid on the spot, let it sit for 10 minutes and then use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. This can get in the pores of the finish and get most of the glue off, but there is no guarantee that you may still damage the floor finish itself.
Cupping can happen for several reasons, but the #1 culprit is installer error or improper maintenance of environmental conditions onsite. Cupping is usually caused by elevated moisture content rising from the sub-floor and hitting the bottom of the flooring planks. Moisture affects the sides of the plank quicker than the center, causing them to swell and form the “cup” shape. There are many causes including improper flooring adhesive, incorrect trowel with the wrong spread rate, improper acclimation of the floor prior to installation, and many more. If you follow our installation and maintenance guides, you should not experience any of these issues.
Some cupping can be considered normal on wide planks, but if it is significant, there is usually an underlying issue. Important things to look out for:
1) The flooring was installed over a crawl space that wasn't properly sealed and the humidity is coming up through the subfloor and hitting the wood/bamboo floor.
2) The bamboo flooring was glued down to a concrete slab but the glue wasn't troweled down properly (either wrong trowel was used or there isn't full coverage on the slab) and there are gaps in the glue, so the moisture being released by the slab is hitting the bottom of the wood/bamboo floor. Different glues have different moisture barriers (3 lbs, 5 lbs, and 12 lbs are common) and you will need to use one with a high enough barrier for your subfloor.
3) The flooring wasn't acclimated properly so now the wood has adjusted and it's now it's drying out and changing shape.
4) Dry cupping: when a homeowner leaves the home and turns off the hvac, it can result in what is called the "Green House Effect" in summer time. Excessive heat and humidity followed by air conditioning will cause cupping.
Below are a few good links for further reading:
It is the responsibility of you or your installer to determine whether the glue brand you are using with our floors will suffice, and we do not recommend nor reject specific brands. You should be able to place a quick call to the glue manufacturer you are considering to determine whether it can be used in conjunction with hardwood and bamboo flooring.
Using a glue other than those we sell will not void your floor warranty per se as our warranty covers our floors, not the tools or materials used to install them. If the floor fails later and the reason is because it was improperly installed or the glue failed, this should be covered by the labor warranty or glue warranty.
We strongly suggest only hiring an installers that provide a 1 year warranty on their labor as most flooring issues arise within the first 10 months after installation.
Gapping in hardwood floors is normal wood behavior and dry, cold days typically result in slight gapping in hardwood floors (including bamboo); in summer the gaps may or may not close up. This is normal and to be expected as wood is a hygroscopic material that expands and contracts to balance itself out with the humidity in its environment.
Check your humidity levels and turn on a humidifier to remedy the solution. If humidity levels are between 40%-60% (recommended humidity range for hardwood and bamboo) it may be a result of improper acclimation or an uneven subfloor (where the planks are “sliding” down opposite sides of a mound due to repeated foot traffic).
The National Wood Flooring Association recommends that you maintain a range of around 40%-60% humidity levels in your home if you have any wood floor installed. Here is some further reading you can do on the topic:
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