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Frequently Asked Questions: Installation Supplies - Installation

Frequently asked questions about installation of accessories

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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.

Different flooring finishes require different cleaning solutions and methods, so we recommend you read our Bamboo Flooring 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.

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.

Zenith Tibet Almond Stick For Flooring Repair  |  WearMax Scratch Concealer For Hardwood Flooring  |  Rejuvenate Wood Floor Repair Markers

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.

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 bamboo 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

No. 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.

Need help finding out how many cleats you'll need to nail down your floors? Use our handy cleat/nail calculator!

No, asphalt-saturated felt paper is NOT a moisture barrier (neither the 15lb. 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.

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.

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 most of our bamboo floors require at least a 3-day acclimation period, so you'll need to factor that into your plans as well.

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.

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 when installing in the floating method. If you're gluing the floor down, you can use an adhesive that contains a sound barrier.

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, Sentinel is a brand that makes some good non-toxic adhesive removers that will soften the adhesive to allow it to be scraped up easier.

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. 

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:

1) Glue down the floor using an adhesive with a vapor barrier.

2) Choose a click-lock floating floor and install 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 put 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 please note that you may still damage the floor finish itself.

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.

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.

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