F.A.Q. - Installation

Common questions related to bamboo floor installation

We do not provide installation services but have no fear as there are many high-quality contractors in your state and the majority will be eager to provide a free estimate over the phone or in the comfort of your own home.  We recommend that you check out our helpful article titled 7 Tips For Choosing A Floor Installer.

 

 

We recommend you read our maintenance guide carefully for your specific finish type.  As for cleaning solutions, for regular maintenance and spot cleaning it is hard to beat the Bam-Brite hard surface floor cleaner.  Alternatively, you may use most standard floor cleaners approved for your specific flooring finish, such as Swiffer Wet Jet for Hardwood (if you have wood/bamboo), and Bona Hardwood Floor Care Kit.  For spot cleaning, you can also use one cup of white vinegar mixed in with a half bucket of warm water, with a lightly damp mop, but do not use vinegar for regular cleaning as it can affect the finish PH balance and dull the luster over time.

Never steam mop or wet mop bamboo/hardwood floors, and never use mineral spirits, turpentine, or paint thinner on our floors.  If you have a cleaning solution you are not sure about, make sure to test it on an out of the way area or sacrificial plank prior to using it on your floor, to ensure it does not damage the finish.

** Please note that different flooring finishes require different cleaning solutions and methods - read our maintenance guide carefully for your specific finish type.

 

Nail down. This is the most economical installation method, and it's the fastest after the floating method.  The drawback is that over a long period of time nails can come loose due to repeated seasonal cycles (expansion and contraction), resulting in a squeaky floor.   For nail down installations you'll want to use a 15 lb felt paper or similar as underlayment.  To install strand woven flooring you'll need to use a pneumatic nailer that shoots 18 gauge hardwood flooring cleats; using the wrong cleat thickness may result in dimpling or goosebumps in your strand bamboo floor.   We recommend using a Primatech Q550 Nailer or a Powernail 50P Flex for all strand bamboo nail down installations.

Glue down. While this is the most expensive and labor-intensive method, it is also considered the most stable method as the glue provides sound and moisture insulation, and the elasticity in the glue allows the floor to expand and contract naturally with the seasons.  Our floors can be glued down to a multitude of surfaces.  Be sure to check out the Acceptable Subfloor Types table in our installation instructions. If you're gluing down over plywood you can use a basic bamboo flooring glue, but if you're going over a slab you'll want to choose an all-in-one glue for bamboo flooring over concrete. Remember that it's important to use the correct trowel in tandem with the glue you've chosen.  If you use the wrong trowel you may not get the correct spread rate, causing your floor to fail.  This can be a very expensive mistake!

Floating. The advantage to a click-lock floating floor is the ease of installation as it is less time consuming to install.  It is also easier to repair floating floors should you ever have a leak or other problem.  The disadvantage is that, unless your home has stable indoor humidity year-round (meaning it stays within a 20% range indoors the whole year), you are limited in the length of the continuous runs of flooring you can lay.  Across the widths of the planks (tangentially), you are limited to 25 feet with engineered floating floors and 15 feet with solid floating floors.  Running down the lengths of the planks (longitudinally) you are limited to 45 feet with engineered floating floors and 25 feet with solid floating floors.  For this type of installation, we recommend you use a 3 in 1 underlayment.

COLOR STAIN

We do not sell color stain for our floors, as it is not stable outside of a controlled finish environment and would change hue over time; additionally, since wood floors are a natural product, shade lots can vary widely.


SCRATCHES AND GOUGES

Surface Scratches (white lines). Micro-scratches are much more obvious on dark flooring and are common and expected on prefinished hardwood flooring.  You can use the products below to diminish these marks.  Some customers have also had success in breaking a walnut in half and using the exposed edge to rub on the scratches.  On most of our floors, micro-scratches will diminish over time just from walking on the floors, the friction of shoes against the scuff marks tends to make them fade away.

WearMax Scratch Concealer For Hardwood Flooring

Rejuvenate Wood Floor Repair Markers

Zenith Tibet Almond Stick Furniture And Flooring Repair

 

Deeper Gouges and Ruptured Surfaces (grooves or areas where stain was penetrated).  For a gouge that has penetrated the finish as well as the stain, you can first use a marker that matches the color to remedy the discoloration.  If you wish to fill the gouge there are several products in the market that you can find at local big box or hardware stores, including Mohawk Fil-Stiks, Picobello Floor Repair Kit, and Timbermate. Some products don't fully harden and thus shrink and expand with the floors, while others do harden may chip and break apart if walked on constantly so you'll want to avoid these products if the repair is in a high-traffic area.  You also might be able to find a wax filler pen at your local big box store.

Rejuvenate Wood Floor Repair Markers

Weiman Wood Floors Repair Kit

Picobello Wood Floor Repair Kits

Mohawk Hard Fill Flooring Kit


To touch up problem spots where the finish may have worn through you can attempt to implement a light buffing to achieve the desired smoothness (with varying 80/12/150 screens) to and follow up with a matte-finish oil-based polyurethane for coating.  Some installers have also reported success with Basic Coating's StreetShoe finish line. Please note you'll want to perform this repair on one entire room as attempting it in one area will make it stand out from its surrounding planks.  We strongly recommend buffing a sacrificial plank or area and applying the polyurethane to that test section first to ensure the buffing and new finish application achieves the desired results.  If you want to fully refinish your floor you can check out our article Can Bamboo Flooring Be Refinished?


**Important: Please note that the comments above are only recommendations and that each installer uses these tools and finishes differently; we strongly recommend that you test your process first on a sacrificial plank or out-of-the-way area before beginning to avoid problems with your floor.

Due to the density of strand woven flooring, we recommend only using a high PSI, high quality 18 gauge pneumatic nailer, such as a Primatech Q550 ALR or Powernail 50P Flex.  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.   When nailing down a floor we typically recommend you first lay 15 lb felt paper.

For moldings installation we recommend a Bostich Porter 23 gauge micro nailer or similar gun. 

For all nailers, make sure cleats and nails are set properly before continuing to the next row, as 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 occurring on less than 30% of the planks.

 

 

 

It depends!  Luxury Vinyl Plank floors with SPC Core do not require acclimation, and neither do our Rigid Core Bamboo Floors (bamboo flooring with SPC core).  Meanwhile, all of our non-SPC core bamboo and eucalyptus floors must be acclimated for a period of 72 hours prior to installation, and we recommend an additional 7 days for geographic areas of high or low humidity.

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 polyethylene 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 barrier at least 18 inches beyond the flooring boxes.

Ensure that the flooring is acclimated within the same room (or adjoining room with the same climate) where the floor will be installed in.  Remember that you must keep your interior humidity settings between 40%-60% (as for all wood floors) or you may experience increased expansion and contraction.

First, stack the boxes up to 5 high, with each stack located at least 2 feet away from the next.  Cross-stacking is preferable if you have space.  

Once the boxes are stacked, use a box cutter or sharp knife to cut each box down one entire side lengthwise, and also the end flaps.  Make sure to also cut open the interior plastic so that the floors really breathe.

We recommend ordering 10% extra for cutting and waste.  If you have one or two large rooms that are square, and you are careful about making cuts, you can probably get away with 7%. If you are installing your floors in a diagonal pattern, we recommend ordering 15% extra for cutting and waste.

Also, keep in mind that bamboo and hardwood floors come in 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.

 

You should follow two basic rules when choosing a wood flooring adhesive:

1) If you're gluing the floor down to plywood or other dry substrate, you'll want to use a zero VOC 100% urethane trowel-down adhesive approved for wood flooring installation.  I.e. when installing over plywood or a dry substrate you don’t need the adhesive to contain a vapor barrier unless there is a crawl space, garage or other moist environment underneath.  If there is a moisture concern, proceed to Step 2 below.

2) If you're gluing the floor down to concrete or any other sub-floor that may be emitting moisture, this will require an adhesive that contains a moisture/vapor barrier.  These adhesives are slightly more expensive than basic adhesives but well-worth the investment. We sell an affordably priced low-VOC adhesive with vapor barrier and sound retarder that works not only for bamboo but for all types of wood floors and even some tile; many of our clients even use it on their upstairs floors to keep noise levels down.  Important: always make sure to use the correct trowel style and size for the type of adhesive you select or you may not get enough coverage on the floor and this will cause the installation to fail.  For example, our vapor barrier adhesive should only be applied with a 1/4" x 1/4" V Notch Trowel.

About Moisture In Concrete.  Most concrete slabs emit moisture for up to 25 years after being poured, and installing a floor over such a slab is easy to do, however as with any other job done right you want to make sure you have the right tools, and adhesive, on hand.  Moisture is measured in pounds on concrete slabs. Basic adhesives usually protect up to about 3 pounds of moisture. Meaning, if you test the concrete and it comes back higher than 3, you need an adhesive that contains a moisture barrier.

Keep in mind that moisture tests only test the moisture on any given day.  A slab may read 8 lbs per square foot one day but then it rains for a week and the moisture rating jumps to 14.  Our vapor barrier adhesive mentioned above protects your floor up to 20 pounds of moisture emitted per square foot which is usually more than enough for most slabs, however, it's still always recommended to test the slab moisture emission prior to installation using a calcium chloride moisture test kit.  If you have an 'excessively wet' concrete slab or sub-floor (which emits more moisture than the upper moisture limit specification of the vapor barrier adhesive you choose), you'll need to find an unlimited vapor barrier adhesive such as Bostik Ultra-Set Single Step.

Yes, bamboo plywood can be fixed and used, please check out our guide to fixing warped bamboo plywood.

This depends on several factors mostly related to the current condition of the sub-floor.  If the subfloor is observed to be sagging, it is recommended that you install the planks in a perpendicular direction compared to the joists.  This is a call you'll want your installer to make as he/she will need to inspect the sub-floor prior to installation. 

 

All of the information below can be found in our detailed flooring installation instructions document.  We also recommend reading this informative post on our blog. 

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 polyethylene 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 

Vinyl flooring can usually be laid directly on top of a concrete slab, but you'll want to be careful with excessively wet slabs (emitting more than 20 lbs per sq ft of moisture) or you may have mold issues down the line.  With bamboo flooring, you have 3 options over a concrete slab.  One is to glue down any of our tongue and groove flooring with an adhesive that contains a moisture barrier (such as our Ironwood All-In-One Adhesive with Vapor/Sound Barrier), and don't forget to use the correct V-Notch ¼ inch trowel.  Option two is to float any of our rigid core bamboo floors directly on it (again, extra care must be taken with excessively wet slabs as they may need to be sealed first), and option 3 is to float one of our click-lock engineered floors after first laying down a 3 in 1 underlayment (which contains a vapor barrier).

 

You can glue down or nail down our solid floors to a plywood subfloor.  You can also float our engineered and rigid core floors over plywood. For added sound insulation, float our engineered floors over a 3 in 1 underlayment, or use the glue-down method and an adhesive with a sound retarder in it. 

 

To see if you can install our floors over specific sub-floors we recommend reading the Acceptable Subfloor Types section in the related installation guide.  Links to the product's installation guide can be found on each floor's product detail page.

For nail down installations we recommend that you use either 15 lb felt paper (asphalt-saturated roofing paper, essentially) or red rosin paper.   Please note that 3 in 1 underlayment should only be installed under floating floors and should not be used in nail-down installations, as the compressive quality of the pad can result in loose nails, compromised structural stability, and noisy floors.

Absolutely, however, the rule of thumb when installing at a diagonal is to order 15% extra for cutting and waste instead of the usual 10% extra.

Maximum load considerations related to your joists and building structure: we strongly suggest that you always consult a structural engineer before placing any single piece that exceeds 1,500 lbs or the maximum load your joists will hold.

Heavy objects on nailed down or glued down floors.  There are no restrictions to placing heavy furniture floors that are nailed or glued down (aside from structural max weight restrictions) but we recommend placing sliders or rubber weight dispersion plates under the legs of excessively heavy objects to avoid permanent damage or dents.

Heavy objects on floating floors.  If you have a floating floor you can usually sit heavy furniture on top, but there are a few exceptions.  For example, a piano is perfectly fine and so is a piece of furniture with legs (with just 3-4 contact points with the floor).  For pieces of furniture without legs (flat across the bottom), try to avoid "pinning" a long row of successive floating floor 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 be able to expand and contract during seasonal cycles, and pinning the planks down will inhibit this movement and may cause planks to separate from each other.  For this same reason, you shouldn't install floating floors under kitchen cabinets.  If the bottom of the heavy object 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, or not placing the object on the floor. 

As a general rule of thumb, floors that are nailed down or glued down do go under cabinets and islands, and floors that are floated should not be installed under cabinets or islands.  Floating floors aren't installed under cabinets because pinning down a long run of a floating floor may inhibit its ability to expand and contract naturally.

 

If your existing wood floor is clean and level, you can usually nail down or glue down a wood floor to it without issue but you may need to perform a light sanding first depending on the situation (your installer should be able to advise on the best course of action here).  Additionally, you can only nail down to an existing hardwood floor if it is at least 5/8" thick.  In case of either the glue down or the nail down option, we highly recommend that you seek the assistance of an experienced flooring professional.

 

For a thorough section about Sub-floor Preparation we strongly recommend reading the installation guide for the floor you're considering purchasing - you can easily find a link to this guide in that floor's product detail page's "Specifications" section.

The general advice below is for informational purposes only, as you should always consult each floor's specific/official installation guide before making your determination.  Some general sub-floor requirements:

  •     Must be structurally sound
  •     Must be clean - thoroughly swept and free of all debris
  •     Must be level - flat to 3/16" per 10-foot radius
  •     Must remain dry year-round. The moisture content of a wood subfloor must not exceed 12%. Concrete subfloors, crawl spaces, and floors that emit more than 12% moisture will need to be addressed with a vapor barrier.

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 a leveling compound. The concrete must be flat to 3/16" per 10- foot radius. All concrete must be tested for moisture and the appropriate vapor barrier urethane adhesive must be used to account for the moisture emission level.  We recommend reading our full installation guide for details.

Bamboo flooring is 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:

  • 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.
  • Glue the flooring down.  The elasticity in the glue allows the floors to breathe easily through humidity changes.
  • Make sure to leave ¼ - ½ inch of expansion gap around your flooring perimeter at the time of installation.
  • 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.

Almost all of our floors can be installed over radiant heat, however, different floor types have different requirements so we recommend checking each floor's "Specifications" section on its product detail page on this website, find the row labeled "RADIANT HEAT SAFE" that will tell you if it can be installed over radiant heat or not.  Additional important note: in the same Specifications section you will see a link to the installation guide for that floor - please note there is a specific and detailed section in each floor's installation guide pertaining to installation over radiant heat, and maintenance of the floors over radiant heat, and we strongly suggest you read that section of the installation guide to avoid voiding your warranty!

Yes!  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 urethane adhesive (no vapor or sound retarder) and a 1/4" x 1/4" V-Notch trowel that is used with our urethane adhesive with sound and vapor retarder.  The V-Notch is designed to provide a thicker layer of adhesive so you have a complete layer/seal on the slab.  Pro Tip: don’t skimp when troweling down vapor barrier adhesive or your floors will cup later!  The Square notch trowel puts down about 85% coverage which is enough to hold down the floor on plywood or places where a sound and vapor barrier isn't required.

 

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 from the joists 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.

You can typically safely walk on the floors around 4-12 hours after the adhesive was first troweled down but this depends on the humidity levels of where you live, because moisture-cured urethanes dry at different intervals depending on humidity levels.  We recommend reading the adhesive pail label to determine the correct cure time.

 

Not only is stable humidity required for hardwood and bamboo flooring, but it's also healthier for you.  If you live in an area that experiences indoor humidity under 35% or over 55% at any time during the year, we suggest buying a hygrometer ($10-$15 at local hardware stores) to keep track of the humidity, and a portable humidifier or dehumidifier to properly control your indoor humidity levels.  Even better, whole house humidity modulators are affordable and readily available in the market for $300-$1000 depending on the size of your home, including installation.

Yes! Rolling office chairs tend to collect grime, dirt, and small rocks under the wheels, which eventually damage the finish of every floor including ours.  Always use a chair mat under rolling office chairs.  It is also advised that you use felt pads under furniture and chairs to avoid damaging the finish.

 

If you are gluing down or nailing down a floor - there are no run limits.  If you are floating a floor - maybe!  The only time we suggest run limits is when you’re floating a floor and you don’t have stable interior humidity.  Also, rigid SPC core floating floors are highly stable but still have run limits in place.  We encourage you to read each floating floor's official installation guide before purchase to determine what run limits it may require; the installation guide is linked to in the "Specifications" section of each floor's product detail page.  Additionally, check out our guide to Nail Down vs Glue Down vs Floating flooring installations for more details!

We recommend that you always carefully measure your walls to determine how many moldings you'll need, however a quick ratio used by many installers is to order 30% of the total flooring square footage.  For example, if you’re installing 1,000 sq ft of flooring you'll need roughly 300 linear feet of perimeter trim moldings.  It also depends on how many cuts need to be made, but that rough estimate will get you started.

Our flooring has been installed around the world and in many different types of structures such as homes, restaurants, libraries, and more, but it is only warranted for indoor use and when installed for its intended use (as flooring).  For our bamboo floors specifically, you can read all about the process in our official bamboo flooring installation guide.

There should be at least 8 inches between where two butt ends of planks meet, in adjacent rows.  This means that no starter row plank should be cut to less than 8 inches in length.

If it is an enclosed, climate-controlled room and the sub-floor does not have a moisture concern, you can install bamboo flooring.  We do not recommend installing our bamboo or eucalyptus floors in a room that is not climate controlled, and you have to be careful with sub-floor moisture as well.  Otherwise, as long as the humidity inside that room is stable, and maintained between 40%-60%, and the sub-floor is dry year-round (emits less than 12% moisture), you can install the floors there. 

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 than 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

 

Only an 18 gauge cleat nailer should be used to nail down strand woven bamboo and eucalyptus flooring (along with 18 gauge cleats).  If you use 16 gauge cleats they are likely to cause dimpling on your floors as described in this article.

Furthermore, using any cleat or staple other than an 18 gauge cleat may cause cracks and splits in the tongue that will cause further issues down the road.

 

Most rugs can be laid over vinyl floors with no issues, however, for hardwood and bamboo floors you have to be careful when laying rugs or pads as they can damage the finish over time.  We recommend reading our complete write-up about acceptable rugs and pads, and below are some general instructions to follow.

It's recommended that you use natural rubber or felt rug pads under all rugs laid on hardwood floors.  If you’re looking for a simple, non-slip rug pad we recommend using a breathable, natural rubber-based pad. Natural rubber has excellent gripping power, is a renewable resource, and won't damage your floors over time like a more typical, less expensive PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pad. Natural rubber rug pads have been on the market for over 30+ years and have a proven track record for performance and floor safety.

If you need a larger area covered you can also use a 100% felt rug pad.  They offer excellent cushioning and support for larger areas and are less prone to slipping. A felt rug pad is thicker and denser than traditional non-slip rubber rug pads and offers a dense buffer.  Whichever rug pad you choose, make sure it's breathable (perforated).

Bamboo, hardwood, and vinyl 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 flooring at least 2 feet away from the stove by putting in an apron of brick/stone/similar around the stove.

2. Acclimate the 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).

 

No, asphalt-saturated felt paper is NOT a moisture barrier (neither the 15 lb felt nor the 30 lb felt).  It may help to slow down moisture and have some wicking qualities but it does not stop it.  If you need a moisture barrier for a floating floor you will need to use a 3 in 1 underlayment.  For a nail down floor, there is no vapor barrier underlayment available, so you will need to seal the moisture concern somewhere below the subfloor, or you will need to glue the floor down with a vapor barrier adhesive.

The standard requirement for all wood flooring (including bamboo) is that you maintain proper interior humidity levels between 40%-60%.  As long as your installer follows our installation instructions, and those interior humidity settings are maintained, you'll have a trouble-free and super durable floor for a long time. Meanwhile, vinyl flooring is generally stable outside of that range, but you still want to avoid extreme temperates (outside of 35 degrees to 85 degrees) and humidity (outside of 10%-80%).

3 in 1 underlayment should never be used when nailing down a floor.  These underlayments are nullified as a vapor barrier once you nail through them, and the compression of the pad results in the loosening of the cleats over time, which can result in noise squeaks and also structurally compromise the floor.  Most installers use 15 lb asphalt-saturated felt paper when nailing down a floor, it reduces wood-on-wood squeaking and helps wick moisture away from the bottoms of the flooring planks (please note that 15 lb felt paper is not a vapor barrier!).  Remember, if you're nailing down a strand woven bamboo floor it is required you use an 18 gauge cleat nailer.

Yes, you can store flooring boxes in a covered building outside of the home under the following conditions:

  • The boxes are protected from the elements (moisture, rain, snow, etc).
  • The boxes are not open or cut.
  • The temperature does not drop below freezing.
  • The boxes are sitting on top of a pallet or other substrate that keeps them at least 5 inches off of the ground, and the ground is not wet.

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 rigid core (SPC core) and engineered bamboo flooring can be installed below grade, but it is not recommended that solid hardwood or bamboo flooring be installed below grade.  When installed via the floating method, we recommend the use of a quality 3 in 1 underlayment to serve as a moisture barrier and for footfall noise reduction.  Engineered floors can be installed via the glue-down method on any level of the home, but if installing over concrete or crawl space you must use a urethane flooring adhesive that contains a vapor barrier (all-in-one glue).

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.

Some of our floors and plywood contain the densest hardwood material in the world (strand woven bamboo) and will wear down standard saw blades pretty quickly.  For this reason, we recommend a minimum 80 tooth tungsten carbide saw blade.  Diablo is a brand that sells such a blade (check your local big box store or online). Plywood tip: if you get burn marks on some of your cuts you can sand them off saw using a few stages of different high grit sandpaper. 

Dimensionally stable flooring can be installed over well-bonded vinyl asbestos tile using our trowel down adhesives.  However, all waxes and sealers which have likely been applied to the VAT, must be stripped prior to installation. It is prudent for this sort of prep to be done by a licensed asbestos abatement professional.  Epoxy can be used as a sealer of asbestos tiles as long as there are no loose pieces, and the key is to abrade the epoxy surface so the glue can bond to it. Please note: we cannot guarantee that other adhesives will bond, so you would proceed at your own risk if you are using adhesives other than those sold by Ambient.  

We do not recommend installers. However, you have several options available to you to locate a good installer:

  • Ask friends and family. Someone you know has had wood flooring installed within the last 5 years. Ask neighbors, friends, family and coworkers if they were happy with their wood floor installer and if so get their name. Contractors appreciate word-of-mouth referrals and some may even offer a "neighborhood" discount. Yelp is also a good way to find installers; look for those with a minimum of 3-5 reviews.
  • Do your homework. If a contractor disparages a certain product and tries to convince you to buy one of their own floors, be wary. Sometimes this is done because of a bad experience with a low quality brand in the past, and other times they're trying to earn an extra commission from a product distributor.
  • Get at least 3 estimates. Most installers will give you a free estimate over the phone or charge a small fee (from $20-$50) to do an in-home estimate. Try to cover all bases and ask as many questions as possible to get a good sense of their experience and knowledge.
  • Pay a fair wage. Doing price comparisons is vital for you as a consumer. The vast majority of floor installers are honest, hard-working men and women that charge a fair wage and are working to support their families. If they go above and beyond it doesn't hurt to give them a tip at the end of the project.
  • Request a warranty. The best installers are confident in their installation skills and will offer a warranty to back up their workmanship.
  • Plan ahead. You'll want to assume that most installers are booked up with jobs for the ensuing 2-3 weeks, so the earlier you start getting estimates the better off you'll be. Also remember that all hardwood and bamboo floors require a few days to be shipped, another 2-8 days in transit, and at least a 3 day acclimation period, so you'll need to factor that into your plans as well.

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 floor.  This humidity range can also be achieved via the use of a portable humidifier or dehumidifier.  Also, some geographic areas have relatively stable humidity year around (like Southern California or Florida) so run limits usually aren't an issue in those areas. 

However, if you live in an area with distinct seasons and a wide variance in humidity throughout the year, and you don't have a way to control your humidity, you'll need to be careful with your run limits.  We strongly recommend reading the specific installation guide for the floor you're considering installing before purchasing - a link to this guide can be found in the "Specifications" section of each floor's product detail page on our website.

Once adhesive cures on a wood flooring surface it is very tough to remove and may leave behind permanent cloudy/dull spots on your finish, however you can try these steps:

    1. Pour a small amount of Bostik Urethane Adhesive Remover on the glue spot, or squeeze a small amount of remover from a Bostik Adhesive Remover Towel.

    2. Let it sit for about 15 minutes.

    3. Wipe the area clean.

    4. Apply adhesive remover again to the same spot.

    5. Let it sit for about a minute.

    6. Use a Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser® to remove cured glue.

    7. Clean the area well.

If the steps above fail, you can also attempt to wear the glue spots down using denatured alcohol, but make sure to test on a sacrificial plank first as overdoing it may also rub off some of the finish.  Finally, if none of the steps above work, or you are left with cloudy spots as a result of removing the glue, you will most likely need to cut out and replace the flooring plank.

 

Yes you can! However you must use our urethane adhesive with vapor and sound retarder in combination with our Super Silencer underlayment. For maximum effect you can first glue the underlayment down to the sub-floor, then glue the flooring down to the underlayment. You will need a 1/4 in by 1/4 in v-notch trowel and some adhesive remover wipes are always recommended when gluing down any floor.

When it comes to installing moldings and trim, there are two main methods:

Molding/Trim Installation - GLUE DOWN: We recommend Titebond Wood Glue, as it is a tried and true product for installing moldings and trim. Liquid Nails Construction Adhesive is another product that can be used for gluing these pieces to flooring and/or walls. When installing moldings on LVP floors, be sure to use an adhesive that specifies it will bond to PVC/plastic or vinyl surfaces. Most adhesives will not bond to either the vinyl or the PVC, so ideally you want something that will bond to most surfaces like this product.

Molding/Trim Installation - NAIL DOWN: This method is most often used for trim pieces like quarter round or shoe molding. To nail down your moldings, we recommend using a 23-gage micro pin nailer, which can be rented at most local big-box stores. 

REMEMBER: For moldings that click into place (into click-lock floors), there is no glue required as the moldings simply click into the flooring planks. 

There are a few concrete sealer products on the market you can find via basic web search and also some glue down flooring adhesives with unlimited upper moisture limits that are suitable for these types of installations such as Bostik Single-Step.  You can always test the moisture levels in your concrete using a calcium chloride test kit.

Cork underlayment is usually recommended because of it’s sound muffling qualities, but we sell 3 in 1 underlayments that have higher STC and IIC sound ratings than cork (meaning better sound muffling) so we normally recommend those.  If you're gluing the floor down you can also use an adhesive that contains a sound barrier.

No.  Our floors are already optimized for moisture content, and ready to be acclimated and installed almost anywhere in the world.  Also, please not that due to the structurally dense nature of strand woven bamboo and eucalyptus, it is practically impossible to achieve accurate and consistent moisture readings outside of a controlled moisture chamber, even with a wide variety of moisture meters that exist on the market today, so we don't recommend testing the floor moisture before installation. 

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.   Also, you will 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.

The installer/homeowner must also ensure to acclimate the floor** correctly prior to installation and maintain the humidity level between 35%-55% post-installation.  Remember - if acclimating on top of concrete, a crawl space, or other moisture emitting surface you must first lay down a (minimum) 8 mil thick polyethylene tarp or 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).

**Not all of our floors require acclimation - check each floor's product detail page "Specifications" section where you will see an "Acclimation Period" row with required acclimation data.

The short answer is – it depends on a lot of factors! There are many different concrete and cement products from various manufacturers on the market today. Because the components are going to differ from product to product, there is no set time frame. Although, the product manufacturer should have instructions that may list drying or curing times. Other big factors are the humidity levels, temperature, and whether or not you have fans blowing as those can all affect curing times.


The best way to determine if the subfloor is ready to be glued down to is to use to perform a calcium chloride test to ensure the vapor emission from the subfloor in question does not exceed the upper moisture limit of the adhesive you plan on using. Take for example our very own urethane adhesive with vapor barrier and sound retarder, which can be used on slabs with moisture emissions up to 20 lbs (per 1,000 square feet). That means if your calcium chloride test results come back under 20 lbs (per 1,000 square feet), then you are good to go! But let us say your test results came back at 6 lbs (per 1,000 square feet) but your adhesive is only rated for 3 lbs (per 1,000 square feet), then your floors are very likely to cup as the moisture in the slab exceeds the capabilities of the adhesive.

The fastest method to take up cured adhesive is to use grinding machines. A clean and less toxic one is a dustless diamond grinder. If you need to scrape glue out of a smaller space, the company Sentinel makes some good non-toxic adhesive removers that will soften the adhesive to allow it to be scraped up easier.

 

Nailing and gluing a floor down won't cause damage or defects but it's usually only required on extra-wide solid hardwoods.  On wide plank solid hardwoods that exceed 6 inches in width, it is recommended.  On planks that are less than 6 inches wide, doing both is superfluous - you only need to do one or the other.   Also, never nail or staple through click-lock floors, they are not intended to be nailed down.

Most glues average around 1-3mm in thickness once cured, however, the exact level can be more depending on the glue spread rate required, and the type of glue being used.  Note: for a vapor barrier glue the spread rate should not be less than 2mm. 

Overlap moldings can be used in almost any installation situation; The only difference between overlap moldings and standard moldings is that part of the overlap molding sits atop the flooring surface, so this creates a small ridge. 

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, and you can also test the humidity on the main grade sub-floor itself.  If excessive moisture is coming up from the basement you have a few options. The first is to glue down the floor using an adhesive with a vapor barrier. The second option is to choose a click-lock floating floor, so you could float the floor on top of a 3 in 1 vapor barrier underlayment. Both of these will seal off your floor and protect it from any sub-floor moisture.

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 require 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 that it was improperly installed or the glue failed, this should be covered by your installer's warranty or the warranty of the adhesive you purchased.

We strongly suggest only hiring installers that provide a 1-year warranty on their labor as most flooring problems arise within the first 6 months after installation, and the great majority of flooring issues are installation-related.

Gapping in hardwood floors is normal wood behavior and dry, cold days can cause this; in summer when the humidity increases and the planks swell, 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 using a hygrometer and if your humidity is at or below 35% we recommend turning on a humidifier to remedy the solution.  If gapping exists but 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), or the humidity was allowed to drop below 30% in which case the gaps may be permanent.

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. Want to know more?  Here's another great article on how moisture affects hardwood flooring.

 

Check out this page to see step by step instructions on how to refinish bamboo flooring, along with some helpful pictures of a past Ambient floor that was refinished.

No, you should never add any substance (glue, silicone, etc) in between the click-lock profile/mechanism.  In fact, you'll want to ensure that the click-lock profile/,mechanism is clear and free of all debris prior to clicking the planks together or else you could compromise the stability of the connection.

Most designers and installers will lay the flooring longitudinally so that it is parallel to the longest run or wall in the installation.  There are some exceptions, but this is a general rule of thumb.

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