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Stephen Perrera, Owner Of Top Floor Installation Co. and native Tucsonan since 1955 has been in the flooring trade for over thirty-two years. He is licensed, bonded and an insured state of Arizona Flooring Contractor and detailed troubleshooter who performs moisture testing and floor failure analysis, installing a variety of floor coverings. Top Floor Installation



10/30/2011
6:52:36 PM 
Bamboo Madness

As an independent licensed contractor in Arizona I generate my own jobs mostly via the internet along with referrals. In doing this I install all sorts of floors for people who buy online or even from liquidators with a designer and builder or two thrown in. I did my time with the local retailers for 15 years out of the 35 years I have been installing.

So in the course of bidding a stranded bamboo job to be glued direct to concrete I ran into a nice couple who bought some 5/8 stranded bamboo from a national outfit who liquidates products.

This bamboo was a close-out sale. I do not really remember the conversation in which the client alluded to where he said it was a close-out and the branded box it came in never gave me any reason to think it was seconds. I checked out a few planks from a couple of the boxes and saw the normal looking stranded bamboo. The T&G fit well. A couple of planks had been taken out of some boxes and were bowed a bit. Not alarming as the Rh in the house was a tad on the low side. When I do any hardwood and especially bamboo flooring, I take great strides to caution clients about low Rh out here in the desert. Even as far as sending them a link to where you can buy a stand alone humidifier. I have one and it keeps my Rh above 30% all winter. I tell my clients about having the Rh and temp in the zone a couple weeks prior to installation. Now remember this stranded does not allow pin meter testing so it's one or the other - keep the home in the zone or expect gaps, splits and checking.

On the first day of the installation I arrived at the job, the client had taken out all of the planks from the boxes and had 1100 sf of bamboo nicely stacked so that air could freely flow through the planks to acclimate them to the indoor Rh and temperature. You know, the old fashioned way. That immediately threw up a red flag. Bamboo tends to warp and bow out here if the Rh is not high enough. I have seen this bowing effect even in your regular engineered hardwood if the Rh is super low. When I say super low I mean in the single digits outside which usually relates to low double digits in a house. The Rh in the house was back up to 30%. As you know the zone for hardwood and bamboo manufacturers require is anywhere from 30-35% to 50% Rh and 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not to worry I thought since this bamboo has so much glue in it, it should not effect it too much. But as I went through the stacks I saw plenty of bowed planks. Many nicks and some slight scratches as well. I immediately notified the client. It was then he reminded me of our prior conversation about it being a close-out. Close-out meaning seconds in this case.

So I had the client sign off on the manufacturers installation guidelines where it is noted about culling defective planks, bowed, scratched and the like. I didn't believe we could get through the job without installing quite a few of those and he had already resigned himself to the fact that it was not going to be a perfect floor. That way he would not have to be so anal about care and maintenance, he said.

After double-checking my Wagner Rapid Rh probes - which by the way were running high 60's to 72 % Rh - my biggest worry was that I had to wrap around through the kitchen from a hallway through the living room to the breakfast nook, about sixteen feet. Then I had to do another wrap around from the same hall through the living room to the entryway, about 8 feet.

It took me two hours to figure out my plan of attack, snapping control lines as we went. The floor was going together tight as I strapped and glued with the new Bostik Seal N Grip one-step adhesive with the rubber bits in it. Oh... did I mention I was using a new adhesive on a stranded bamboo glue down? Like it wasn't already stressful enough? That was the second biggest worry.

As luck would have it the floor met perfectly wrapping around the kitchen. The strapping and control lines worked great. The adhesive was so easy to trowel it was like troweling chocolate mousse (not kidding) and was grabbing great.

I ran into a small gap wrapping around the entry - but not a big deal. It certainly could have been much much worse. How that happened still confuses me. Blame it on milling I always say.

Other than the job taking a couple more days because I had to double check all the planks for defects and damage it went well. I am not the type to bail on a client. Sure I might have bumped up the bid knowing that it was seconds. But I give the client the benefit of the doubt, always.

Next time I am not going to forget to ask about whether or not the product is firsts or seconds that's for sure. Being independent makes you stay on your toes. I hope I have a client for life who will refer me to his friends and family.




Edited by Admin 10/30/2011
8:24:01 PM

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