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shrinking bamboo flooring?

robertb's picture

i recently looked over a new home that a friend is buying, in bozeman,mt,[dry climate],and as i am a builder and she wanted my assesment. it has solid, pre-finished,bamboo flooring installed in the kitchen/dining area, which is also the main exit to the rear yard and separated garage. the subfloor is 3/4 wafer, over a sealed crawlspace. the flooring has unacceptable gaps - 1/16 to 1/8 on both the sides and the ends. i have no experience with bamboo in particular, so i need some input regarding professional experience to give the buyer in order to approach the builder about it.
does prefinished bamboo flooring shrink? &/or absorb moisture from the air? does it ussually arrive with high moisture and need to acclimate?
will this flooring have buckling/warping problems? is this flooring a potential disaster being in a kitchen/dining area?
what liability does the builder have- now and for how long in the future? [i have never had a liability issue in this area].

(post #76862, reply #1 of 9)

Wow, that's a lot of questions. There are some folks that have posted lots here on bamboo flooring., seek and ye shall find.

My 2 cents though, having installed three big bamboo floors is this: sounds like this floor went straight from the truck to the installation with no time to equalize in moisture content. With shrinkage that greatt I would suspect some lame flooring. I installed some from that woood floor liquidators place that advertises everywhere and it was far inferior to the Teragren/Timbergrass stuff I used on my house and another installation. It began to cup immediately due to to it's construction...each joint of the three layers line up vertically! It's like laying bricks without staggering the joints!

I'd be curious to know how your floor was installed.

(post #76862, reply #2 of 9)

This is tough, as bamboo has so much binding resin in it, I'vew never seen SOLID bamboo move.

Bamboo where the lower plies are softwood? Those are much more prone to cupping and/or shrinkage.

I'll agree that Terragren is a top-notch product. Never ever had a problem with it.

As to your questions?

-Yes, bamboo can move with changes in moisture content.
-Yes, regardless of manufacturer, it needs to acclimate.
-Buckling/warping problems? Can't say. If it is indeed solid, they usually don't cup and/or warp, but they can change ever-so-slightly in width. But not normally in length.
-A potential disaster? Well, let's see whqt it does when the humidity picks up. You chould have the RH in the house measured, and if it's dry, have a humidification system installed. But that's another topic for another day.
-Liability? Was the product installed per the manufacturer's instructions? Everything from : length of flooring acclimation (time period and in box or out of box), type of subfloor (ply/advantech,wafer board), was an underlayment paper used (tar paper/red rosin paper), fasteners used (glue/type of glue/nails/staples/size of fastener), the fastener spacing, what was used to fasten them (hand nailed, pneumatic nailer).

Find out the type of flooring, visit their website, and compare what the manufacturer wants versus what was done by the installer.

Since it's a "new house" there may be some sort of mandated homeowners warranty. Since you're a builder I'm suprised you're not familiar with what's legal in your area, despite not ever having had an issue.

There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.

(post #76862, reply #3 of 9)

thankz to all - the question of liability here in bozeman is a "floating" one, and is determined by who can establish the concept of "standard practice" for any given aspect of the process. ideally, enough evidence is shown to give all parties the desire to pursue a settlement out of court. i won't know the answers to the actual install details unless/until i can dig into the floor, but will gladly post when i find out. my search had shown the "potential" problems, but no actual results, from not following certain practices for bamboo [which are "standard" for all other hardwood floorings]. so thanks again, this has been very helpful.

(post #76862, reply #4 of 9)

i have installed unfinished bamboo flooring. let it acclimiate for 3-4 weeks in house with good air flow in between. installed above a basement and used tar paper underneath. whacked it tight when installed and gradually over a couple of years picked up maybe a 1/16 gap at the end of some of the boards,but absolutely none along the length. Pre finished vs. non finished i don't know if there would be that much difference between the two. You wood think the prefinished would have better quality control in regards to moisture. I seem to remeber that bamboo flooring was supposed to be a bit more dimensionally stable.

I can't imagine they wood ship flooring with a higher moisture content by design. Sounds like it is getting it from somewhere or had it when installed. Anything potentially in the crawl space?


Good luck



(post #76862, reply #5 of 9)

I was watching a "Flip This House" episode last night, they showed the man-in-charge picking up a truckload of wood floooring. As he was loading the truck he said "We're gonna bring this flooring to the house tonight and let it acclimate overnight before we start the installation in the morning."

Always worth a laugh.

There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.

(post #76862, reply #6 of 9)

I saw that episode or maybe one of multiple just like it. You would have to be nuts to buy a home from most "remodelers" on that show. Makes for great entertainment though.



(post #76862, reply #7 of 9)

" what liability does the builder have- now and for how long in the future? [i have never had a liability issue in this area]."

Since this is the sale of a new home by the builder then the buyer could try and get a specific requirement added to the sales contract.

A-holes. Hey every group has to have one. And I have been elected to be the one. I should make that my tagline.
. William the Geezer, the sequel to Billy the Kid - Shoe

(post #76862, reply #8 of 9)

Just anecdotal evidence from another dry state:

We installed bamboo in our basement. It had a couple of weeks to acclimate, was installed in early spring when Utah is at its "wettest",  installed tight, and 5 years later the joints are just as nice as they were when installed. I've never noticed any cupping or separated joints during the course of the heating/cooling cycle. Another engineered floor in the same basement (same installers - us) does have slight trouble with joints during dry times, so I believe it is the bamboo that is performing well rather than good installation.

Pre-finished or not? (post #76862, reply #9 of 9)

Your post doesn't specify what type bamboo flooring that you installed.