Bamboo Flooring Kacy Childs-Winston, Alexis Rushing & Brooke ThompsonIntroduction to Bamboo Flooring• Bamboo is not a wood, but a reed grass that grows in many different climates and regions from jungles to mountainsides. With over 1,000 species, it is classified by its root system, and ranges in height from 1’ to giant timber bamboos measuring 100’. Bamboo is mainly imported from Asia, Vietnam and China. • Bamboo grows faster than any other plant, and regenerates from its old roots (some species growing 18”/day), and can be harvested in 3-5 years. This means that it is self-perpetuating (even invasive), and does not require costly reseeding or planting once harvested.• Premature harvesting and/or production techniques used by the mills in some Asian countries are somewhat controversial within the industry, and require consideration and investigation by the flooring manufacturer.• As a flooring material bamboo can be purchased in solid or engineered forms, finished/unfinished. It can be installed as strips, planks or as a floating floor. Quality of Bamboo Flooring• Moso is the most commonly used species of bamboo used for architectural products.• Moso species grows to a rapid height of forty feet, and then it matures. The maturing process is key to stability. If cut early, before five years, bamboo will be softer and inferior.• Moso bamboo has a 90% fiber to 10% starch ratio, making it very stable and durable.• Moso forests are a mixed age from 1-5 years. In a sustainable harvested forest, only five-year growth or 20% of the for- est is cut annually. 80% of the forest is left intact, maintaining the natural habitat. 100% of the forest can be harvested sustainably in a five-year period.• Moso grows in its native environment in China and should require no irrigation or fertilizers. Bamboo has few if any, pests to contend with.• Bamboo stalk is called Culm (pole). The most common method for dating bamboo culms is by the talc on the upper lip of the node. Younger plants have a chalky white coating.• Harvesting bamboo is done by hand with a small machete. The leaves and smallest branches are trimmed and left for mulch. The culms are lashed together and hand carried out of the mountains.• Culms are sold by weight. The older the Culm, the heavier the weight, the better the price for the farmer reinforcing the concept of sustainable forestry.• Once culms are weighed and sold, they are cut into 2’ to 13’ and then split into rough strips.• Quality is important to verify with manufacturer. Ask if the company is knowledgeable about the product and the manufac- turing process? Do they have reputable third party confirmation their stated quality claims? What is their relationship with the factory and the forest provider? Is the company FSC Certified?• Lower cost bamboo products can use adhesives with higher formaldehyde content. Anyone can claim “no added urea- formaldehyde” without substantial proof.Styles: refers to the orientation of the bamboo strip Flat Grain: shows the face side of the bamboo strip (typically ¾”nodes displayed) Harder. Edge grain: show edge of bamboo strip typical 3/16” nodes. Hard. End Grain: Shows the internal fiber structure of the bamboos strip. Very hard. Strand: Uses strips that are crushed, mixed with phenol-based binder and compacted under pressure. Can be three times as hard as red oak. Performs will under very high traffic applications. Hardest overall.
TRENDS• According to local suppliers, Strand bamboo is the most popular sales rep recommendation and consumer choice.• Strand bamboo is the most durable type of bamboo available on the market. Traditional Horizontal and Vertical bamboo styles are 2x as hard as Red Oak, Strand bamboo is 3x as hard as Red Oak. • Bamboo flooring is the strongest and best quality hardwood flooring available on the market. • Companies like Starbucks, Nike, Guess and Donna Karan have already completed design projects utilizing green prod- ucts such as bamboo. • Strand woven bamboo features a contemporary look with flowing grain fibers with little variation. A more modern option in bamboo flooring is vertical grain, which has a long and linear grain. • The biggest colors in bamboo this season work in almost any palette and include coffee, gun metal and tiger.Manufacturing and Construction Techniques• The outer layer of the harvested bamboo stalk is removed and sliced into fillets/ long strips. The bamboo is then graded. Strips are then kiln dried to lock in some moisture prior to final milling to avoid too high a moisture content that may later shrink and gap when installed. Dried fillets are glued together to form planks, and planks are hot pressed to form a per- manent bond. Final milling forms traditional tongue and groove hardwood floor-style boards.• Strand bamboo is a waste product of the milling process.• Strips are processed with a four-sided planer to straighten then soaked in a bath of hot water with a 1% hydrogen peroxide to eliminate any possibility of pest and to remove any excess starch.• Strips are kiln dried.• Carbonizing turns natural product into amber color. There are no stains; the carbonizing process bakes though the prod- uct, making color inherent.• Strips are then laminated together into single ply panels. Orientation of lamination that determines the style: flat grain, edge grain and end grain.• Manufacturers grade bamboo for quality and lower quality bamboo flooring is often heavily discounted due to the use of this lower quality bamboo.• Quality and environmental consideration should be given to whether a manufacturer has used high-formaldehyde glues and/or high VOC finishing products. Bamboo Flooring Use & Durability• There are three basic orientation styles: horizontal, vertical and strand-woven (twice as hard as the others). • Horizontal v. vertical – depends on the positioning of the stalks in the manufacturing prior to the gluing process. The bam- boo stalk is either running horizontally (shorter pieces) or vertically (longer pieces) within the plank itself, and this results in a different appearance in the flooring plank. Durability of one over the other is debatable.• Strand-woven (a/k/a distressed bamboo) manufacturing process – Left over bamboo from traditional plank manufacturing process is shredded and laminated with an adhesive, and then formed/sealed under high pressure. Final milling forms a wood-flooring plank. This is considered to be the most durable style. This increased durability makes installation of this denser product more challenging.• If a darker coloration is desired, during the manufacturing process the fillets are steamed under pressure or “carbonized.”. This process weakens the bamboo, and should be considered when considering the application of the finished product; however, it does create an inherent color in the bamboo.• Bamboo is considered to be one of if not the strongest hardwood flooring material, and is twice as resilient as Red Oak. Nicks and scrapes, however, are more visible when they occur on bamboo because the color is more universal than that of grained wood. • Bamboo flooring is durable and scores better than hardwoods in hardness, dimensional stability and flammability tests.• The more plies used in manufacturing, the more stable (less shrinkage and expansion). Usually 3-ply bamboo is used in floating floor systems (a/k/a longstrip floors.), 7 1/2” inches wide, and 74 to 87 inches in long.• Engineered bamboo uses a thin veneer of bamboo over structural plywood. Due to the thin veneer it will likely withstand only one refinishing in its lifecycle. Thin veneered bamboo dents easily and can change color when exposed to sunlight.
Sustainability & code related considerations• Environmentally friendly and sustainable natural resource that requires little agricultural labor (no replanting), energy ir- rigation, and is naturally pest resistant. Compared to hardwood, bamboo delivers 25 times more usable fiber per acre/per year, and removes about 33% more CO2 from the air.• Bamboo is the fastest growth segment in the hardwood flooring industry at an annual rate of about 30%.• Bamboo is easy to clean, and resists moisture and stains. Recommended maintenance includes sweeping or vacuuming and mopping with a damp mop and/or non-abrasive cleaner.• FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible manage- ment of the world’s forests. FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.• FSC certification provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value.• FSC is nationally represented in more than 50 countries around the world.• Lacey Act started sustainable forestry in the early 1900’s, which reflects greater accountability in the sourcing of timber products. The FSC is a third party approved steward. • Formaldehyde is a know carcinogen. In 1992 formaldehyde was determined toxic, and many of the composite products used to make building materials were regulated in California. Local SourcesElements of Green Straw Sticks & Bricks Pro Source1919 Wyandotte 1739 Walnut Street 8337 Nieman RoadKansas City, MO 64108 Kansas City, MO 64108-1315 Overland Park, KS 66214-1511816.842.0500 (816) 421-7171 (913) 599-4488Recommended Manufacturers• Teragren: http://www.teragren.com/• Plyboo: http://www.plyboo.com/Bamboo Floor Pricing Information• Bamboo is competitively priced with hardwood, is similarly installed, and comes in a variety of colors.• Teragren Pricing Range• Wholesale: $3.50 - $8.00 SF• Retail: + 50% • Quality is a strong consideration when selecting any surfacing product. Know your product before you buy. Installation Information• Bamboo is simple to install as a DIY project or by a professional for a price similar to hardwood flooring.• Application of subfloor is extremely important. A flooring product is only as strong as its foundation, i.e. subfloor.• Can order material unfinished and pre-finished. Finished will have a bevel to minimize scratching and unfinished will not.• Specify a topcoat finish, check with manufacturer.• Bamboo flooring can be sanded and refinished multiple times.• Trim and moldings are available through most manufacturers.
Jobsite Requirements• Prior to installation of any flooring, the installer must ensure that the jobsite and subfloor meet the requirements of these instructions and are compatible with industry standards. • Room temperature and humidity of installation area should be consistent with normal, year-round living conditions for at least a week before installation. Room temperature of 50-75 degrees F and humidity range of 35-65% is recommended.• Extreme temperature and humidity swings can cause problems for your floor.• Store flooring at the installation site for at least 72 hours before installation to allow the flooring to adjust to ambient conditions, including room temperature and humidity. Do not store directly on concrete or near outside walls. Open the boxes, remove any plastic wrapping and spread the flooring to and let it breathe. Note that this floor may not be accept- able for bathroom installations due to excessive moisture associated with such environments.Acceptable Subfloor types:• Plywood or OSB 3/4” or Concrete slab or Existing wood floor 3/4” or greater• Subfloor must be Structurally sound• • Prep: Thoroughly swept and clean all debris and loose material from the subfloor surface• Level: Flat to 3/16” per 10-feet radius• Dry: Subfloor must be dry year-round. Moisture content of wood subfloor must not exceed 12%; concrete moisture content must not exceed 3lbs. as tested using the calcium chloride method.Moisture Control:• If the moisture content in a concrete slab exceeds 3lbs., or dry conditions cannot be confirmed year around, a moisture vapor protection system must be utilized. • New concrete must be fully cured, at least 60 days. • Wood subfloors must be dry and well secured. Nail or screw every 6” along joists to avoid squeaking. If not level, sand down high spots and fill low spots with an underlayment patch.Further Notes:• Flooring should be the last product installed on any new construction or remodel project. In the event that your floor is not the last product installed at a job site, you must protect the floor during continued construction.• Never apply tape directly to the floor surface. This includes 3M Scotch-Blue Painter’s tape.Methods of Installation:• Nail Down Installation:• Glue-Down InstallationFinishing the job• For Unfinished Floors: Seal, stain and finish as other hardwood flooring. All quality finishes work well,but always remem- ber to test a small area to confirm expected results.Cleaning and Maintenance• The following simple steps should at least be used to ensure the best performance and appearance. The use of other products like wax, water or oil soaps should be avoided and use of any such products is at your own risk.• After your floor has been installed, floor protectors should be placed under the legs of chairs and tables. Doors leading to the outside should have floor mats placed both inside and out.• Your floor should be cleaned weekly with the use of a suction vacuum (but avoid any abrasive rotary brush vacuum) to remove grit and debris from the surface of the flooring. • Higher traffic floors may require more frequent cleaning to keep floor free of grit and abrasive debris that can• damage your floor and finish.Refinishing:• When refinishing is necessary, and the floor has been maintained properly, a floor with a site applied finish or a factory finish can be recoated by a process of cleaning, light abrasion, and reapplication of an appropriate finish product. • If a full removal of the finish is required, the floor can be sanded to wood and a new finish system can be applied. Bamboo Product Comparison• Out of 50 floorings tested, ConsumerReports, reported in the August, 2009, issue of its publication that, 3 of its top 4 floors were composed of bamboo. The top rated flooring product was strand wove and manufactured by EcoTimber.
Summary Bamboo is a natural resource with unlimited applications. It is a grass of many varietals. Bamboo grows faster than any other plant, is naturally pest-resistant, self regenerates, and requires little agricultural labor for either planting or harvesting. When manufactured into a flooring product, it is durable, aesthetically pleasing, easily installed, and easily maintained. It has become a tough competitor against traditional oak hardwood flooring both in durability and pricing, and is the fastest growing entry in the hardwood flooring industry. Bamboo flooring is a fantastic option for a durable, multi-faceted and sustainable installation. Conscientious har-vesting and manufacturing is key to a quality, long lasting flooring surface. FSC Certified bamboo is readily available from reputable manufacturers and local suppliers for a minimal cost difference above non-FSC Certified products. Research manufactures thoroughly to ensure sustainable methods were used to harvest and process the material. Well researched and quality products must be installed to the highest regard to manufacturer specifications. As with any flooring installation, your finished floor is only as durable as the subfloor which it is installed upon. Local suppliers recommend Strand bamboo for durability, strength and aesthetics. Bamboo flooring is for anyone that is eco-conscious or looking for an alternative to hardwood floors. Since it’s a renewable source, it’s easy for consumers to replace if needed. It is ordinarily harder than many other hardwoods used for flooring purposes. Some species of bamboo have hardness ratings double that of red oak, and bamboo is nearly always rated higher than maple. Another great feature of bamboo is that it is resistant to moisture making it a great alternative for kitchens and bathrooms.Samples Flat Edge End Sports Strand
Bibliography“Bamboo in a Sustainable Design Environment.” McGraw Hill Construction Continuing Education. 2011. <http://continuinge ducation.construction.com/crs.php?L=150&C=479>Elements of Green. 2011. <http://www.elements-of-green.com/>Plyboo. 2011. <http://www.plyboo.com/>Pro Source. 2010. <http://www.prosourcefloors.com/lenexa/Pages/default.aspx>Straw Sticks & Bricks. 2010. <http://www.strawsticksandbricks.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=10&chapter=1Teragren. 2011. <http://www.teragren.com/>