Bamboo floors: probably not (further discussion) - Nothing to See Here — LiveJournal
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Bamboo floors: probably not (further discussion) - Nothing to See Here — LiveJournal

Sep. 8th, 2008

02:04 pm - Bamboo floors: probably not (further discussion)

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The story with that is that we have a family room, living room, kitchen, dining area, entrance way and hallway which we wanted to put down wood or wood-like floors in. At present, the living room, family room and hallway all have carpet (in perfectly decent condition) and the kitchen, dining area and entrance way all have tile (cream coloured, contiguous, in good condition, but which separates all three aforementioned carpeted area from each other). We thought it would be nice to have them be one contiguous wood(-like) floor, as it would make the place look bigger and more appealing.

Our realtor's dad is a retired contractor and carpenter who could apparently do a great job of it and wouldn't charge a lot (though it turned out somewhat more than we had been guessing).

We looked around, and Costco has significantly cheaper wood flooring materials than anywhere else, it seems. They had a variety of laminate floors, of which we liked the maple (light coloured) best, and also "hardwood" bamboo flooring. The laminate is standard sort of stuff, with locking click-together sort-of-tongue-and-groove thingies, and with a little padding on the back. You generally also would put an additional layer of padding beneath, to make it feel better, sit better, and not be as noisy. The bamboo is darker than we had originally intended, but is beautiful. It's a toasted bamboo, so sort of a mid-brown. It is simple tongue and groove like most hardwood, so you have to nail or glue it down, unlike the laminate which is generally a floating floor.

Here began the uncertainties. It sounded like our realtor's dad (and unfortunately all our communications has been indirectly, through talking to our realtor) either thinks you could install it "the same as the laminate" or just glued down to the concrete (we don't have a crawl-space; the house is built directly on a concrete slab foundation).

According to the information we've been able to find on-line, if you install a hardwood floor at ground level on concrete you should not just glue or nail it to the concrete. You need moisture barriers -- either by applying a layer of polyurethane sheeting, a layer of 3/4" plywood, another layer of polyurethane, nailing that down with some masonry nails to the concrete and then nailing down the hardwood to that, or by putting a coating on the concrete, gluing down 2x4 "sleepers" and nailing or gluing down the hardwood floor to them.

Only one place suggested that it might possibly be ok to maybe glue down the bamboo directly to the concrete, and this seems like a pretty iffy suggestion to me.

So, we were already going to have to be assertive on which process we wanted, and were going to have to find out whether this would affect his estimate in any way, plus we know he can definitely do laminate floors (he did our realtor's, and they look great), but we don't really have proof either way re hardwood floors.

Yesterday, our realtor told us that his Dad is working on a project for the next two weeks and so...

... so this is why in my post yesterday I mentioned the difficulties having risen to the point where we might not get it done.

Our realtor suggested that we could always move our stuff in to the garage and bedrooms and still do the floor while living there, but I responded that that was precisely what we wanted to avoid by getting it done for us before we moved. If we wanted to shuffle furniture and camp in our house, we could do that a year or multiple years later. The whole impetus for now vs. later was to do it while the house was empty, so it wouldn't be a major performance of ballet/Towers of Hanoi.

There's also the fact that the floors will be thicker/higher than the tile/carpet (which presumably has something to do with the statements about new doors, though they look to me like there ought to be sufficient clearance under them to be able to leave them as-is), which adds to the complexity of the fact that we want to do a little cabinetry modification in the kitchen (or rather, have someone, ideally our realtor's dad, who said he could certainly do it) to fit a fridge in which doesn't quite have enough vertical clearance under the cabinet that lives above the fridge spot, but I think there was room enough to move the cabinet floor up 2" or so, sufficient to account for both the floor thickness increase and current lack of clearance (which is to say, it would have approximatly 0 +/- 1/16" of clearance, without a floor change).

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Current Location: 2000 Seaport Blvd, Suite 400, Redwood City, CA 94063
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Date:September 9th, 2008 05:00 am (UTC)
Yeah, we did ours before we moved in. Enough stuff to deal with after (which is why we haven't yet touched the master bath!)

Our bamboo is more or less identical to the Costco stuff and it is higher than the carpet. The bamboo was 5/8" tall. We used cork underlayment which I think was 6mm (1/4") so the whole thing is getting up to 1" tall... but we still have plenty of clearance under the doors.

FWIW we did not want to glue down our bamboo either even though we have wood subfloors (in case we hated it and wanted to remove it easily). We glued in the groove between the planks. The instructions we read said that's a legitimate method of installation if it's over 1/2" thick, and hey, seems to have worked so far. Ours is semi-floating that way, it's only nailed to the floor at the starting row to allow the rest of the flooring to grow or shrink with the temperature.
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Date:September 9th, 2008 05:14 am (UTC)
I have no idea who you are, anonymous =) ... but interesting re the cork. I almost wonder if we would want that as an additional layer between the bamboo and the plywood/polyurethane, except 6mm is pretty thick, so that would be adding yet more height. I don't know if it is safe to simply put down cork underlayment or whatever on the concrete and put the floor over that (I believe you can glue in the tongue and groove or glue it down (since it's meant to expand/contract a lot less than traditional hardwoods) or nail it down. The glue in tongue/groove way seems weird, because what if the glue seal breaks in one place? Do you end up with two detached bits of floating floor with possible crack between? I guess maybe it's unlikely to crack all the way across a room down one.

It seems like if we had a wooden subfloor or if we had concrete but above ground we wouldn't have to worry about this stuff so much.

I believe the Costco stuff is 5/8" also, and I think probably the plywood (3/4"?) plus polyurethane (thin, but non-zero?) means it would probably be around 1.5" thick in all. I guess that's about 1" higher than the carpets. That seems like it could be ungainly, and I suspect our doors might be iffy, clearance-wise, for that, as I suspect they have around an inch clearance above the carpet, maybe less.
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Date:September 9th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was me. Sorry. It ought to remind me when I've forgotten to log in first.

I think it would take a lot to break the glue, but were it to happen I imagine we'd just re-glue it.

1.5" thick -- I think that would be in the way of our doors. We DID have problems with some closet doors after installing the bamboo (we have bifold closet doors) -- we ended up having to sand away some of the plasterboard above the doors in 2 of the 3 bedrooms in order to raise the doors high enough to account for the new flooring.
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