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Solid or Engineered - Let's Figure it Out

Solid or Engineered - Let's Figure it Out

Congratulations!  You’ve found the perfect Trinity Bamboo Floor: The price is just-right, the color matches your dogs, the texture matches your lifestyle, and now you are sitting in your living room showing your flooring samples to your installer.  Your installer smiles, nods encouragingly, and asks you whether you are purchasing a Solid or an Engineered Floor.  This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.  Without skipping a beat, you confidently answer the question and you even up the ante by suggesting an installation method.  The installer looks at you with admiration because you are clearly smarter and wiser than most customers.  This is one of life’s sweet moments…savor it.

In the following article, you will learn the difference between a Trinity Bamboo Solid Strand Bamboo Floor and an Engineered Strand Bamboo Floor, why to choose one product over the other, and which installation method to use to install it. 

Trinity Bamboo Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring: 

Trinity Bamboo’s Solid Strand Bamboo flooring is made of one material, Strand Bamboo, through and through.  Other than having a premium urethane coating on both the top and bottom surfaces, there are no layers or plies; it is one homogeneous material with the grain running the length of the plank. 

Our Solid Strand Bamboo flooring has a Tongue and Groove milling profile on all 4 edges and is designed to be nailed-down to a wooden subfloor on or above grade (ground level) or glued-down to a cement or wooden subfloor on or above grade.  Solid Strand Bamboo floors can wrap through doorways, flow into nooks, and be installed under cabinets and appliances, providing customers with a classic vision of a hardwood floor; smooth, monolithic, and uninterrupted by transition moldings in doorways.  With a well installed Solid Strand Bamboo floor, there will be no movement or bounce as the planks are attached directly to the subfloor. 

Historically, solid hardwood flooring has been installed using 15 Gauge Cleat Nails.  Why not use 15 Gauge Cleat Nails with Solid Strand Bamboo?  15 Gauge Clean Nails are too big.  Think of Strand Bamboo as water.  If you put your finger in a glass of water, the water will rise around your finger, it won’t compress and make room for your finger.  The same is largely true for very dense tropical hardwoods and strand bamboo.  If you try to nail Solid Strand Bamboo with a 15 Gauge Cleat Nail, the bamboo will likely rise around the cleat forming a slightly raised surface called a dimple.  This is less than desirable.  Over the last decade, we have tested many options and found that using an 18 Gauge Cleat Nail solves this problem.  Why?  The 18 gauge cleat provides the perfect balance of nail size and holding power.  The nail size is small enough that dimples are not formed yet the nail is strong enough to provide holding power in almost any wooden substrate.  To correctly use an 18 Gauge Cleat Nail, place your nail gun against the tongue edge of the plank at a 45-50 degree angle ensuring that the head of the freshly fired Cleat Nail rests cleanly in the nail pocket.  If you must use 18 Gauge Staples, be forewarned that, depending on the quality of the steel used by the manufacturer of your staples, many of your staples may “curl” due to the density of the Strand Bamboo.

Note: When installing Solid Strand Bamboo flooring into environments subject to liquid spills (kitchens, baths, rogue dog areas), it is advisable to use the Glue-Down installation method to help prevent liquid from moving down between the planks and then migrating underneath the planks. Always clean up liquid spills immediately.

Trinity Bamboo Engineered Strand Bamboo Flooring: 

Trinity Bamboo’s Engineered flooring is constructed of three visually distinct layers: Strand Bamboo, High Density Fiberboard (HDF) made from Poplar, and a Poplar balance layer.  When combined, the three layers form a durable and highly dimensionally stable flooring plank designed to be floated over (rest on top of) almost any kind of level subfloor.  Our Engineered Flooring has a UniClic® locking system with fold-down profile on the ends for a super-easy and rock solid installation below, on, or above grade (ground level).  Engineered Flooring is suitable for installation over Radiant Heating systems.

Engineered Floors were designed to handle challenging installation situations such as “below-grade” (below ground-level) installations and installations over radiant heating systems.  How is this magic possible?  These floors are designed from the ground-up to be dimensionally stable.  In other words, when exposed to dry (below 35% Relative Humidity) or moist climates (above 55% Relative Humidity), an Engineered Floor will expand and contract less than a Solid Strand Bamboo floor will.  It is important to note that because these planks are locked to each other (literally), when one plank moves it will end up pulling or pushing every plank directly or indirectly attached to it.  To understand these forces, imagine the following experiment: Tape three sheets of paper together at the corners.  Each piece of paper is a room with an engineered floating floor installed into it.  Each room is joined to the next room in the doorways via the floor’s locking system.  Ok – here we go: pull on one piece of paper.  Did all three pieces of paper move?  Yes.  Now, push on the first piece of paper.  Did the first piece of paper begin folding because it was pushing against the weight of all the other two pieces?  Yes.  Now, put a cup of coffee on the third piece of paper and pull on the first. Where do the pieces of paper break apart?  The taped joint.  The problem you just discovered with the pieces of paper is EXACTLY what will happen if you install an Engineered Floating Floor without separating each room from the next one using an expansion / contraction joint such as a T-Mold.  I will say it here once and for all: Engineered floors need to be installed into rooms with each room separated by an expansion joint.  THIS is the secret to successfully installing an Engineered floor.

Why to Choose Solid or Engineered Flooring:

Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring - Why to Choose:

  • You want to Nail Down your floor to an OSB or Plywood Subfloor on or above grade (ground level)
  • You want to Glue-Down your floor to a Cement, Particle Board, OSB, or Plywood Subfloor on or above grade (ground level)
  • You want your installation to wrap through doorways and between rooms without needing to install transition moldings in doorways or between spaces

Engineered Strand Bamboo Flooring – Why to Choose:

  • You want a Floating Floor (you don’t want to nail or glue-down your new floor)
  • You want to easily (and inexpensively) isolate your flooring from the subfloor to ensure that moisture never migrates into your floor
  • You want to install your floor below grade (ground level)
  • You need to install your floor over a radiant heating system

How to Install Trinity Bamboo Flooring into a Variety of Spaces:

Note: The following is not meant to act as comprehensive installation guidelines.  All decisions regarding how and where to install Trinity Bamboo products are solely the responsibility of the individual purchasing and installing the floor.  Download Trinity Bamboo’s complete installation guidelines here.

Below Grade Installations (below ground level):

  • Product Required: Trinity Bamboo Engineered Flooring
  • Installation Method: Floating
    • Basements (because they are below ground) are very likely to expose a floor to moisture vapor at some point during the life of the floor. The best way to prevent the transfer of moisture from the subfloor into your Trinity Bamboo Flooring is with an absolute Moisture Barrier such as 10 mil polyethylene sheeting.  Make sure your subfloor is level, roll down your polyethylene sheeting running it up the wall to allow moisture to wick to the sides, tape the seams, and roll your 1/8” pad on top of the polyethylene.  Then, install your floating floor over the pad separating all rooms with a transition molding to allow each room to expand and contract at its own rate.

On or above grade installations (concrete subfloors):

  • Product Required: Trinity Bamboo Engineered Strand Bamboo Flooring or Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring
  • Installation Methods: Floating or Glue-Down Installation
    • Floating Engineered Strand Bamboo flooring over a concrete subfloor works beautifully. Really, this is one of the primary reasons why Engineered flooring exists. To protect the flooring from potential moisture, simply install an impermeable moisture vapor barrier such as 10 mil polyethylene sheeting over the concrete and then place a 1/8” pad over it. Lay your flooring over the top and you are DONE.
    • Gluing down Solid Strand Bamboo flooring onto concrete works great as long as you use a 2 part moisture vapor barrier or a combined moisture vapor barrier/adhesive.  If using a combined moisture vapor barrier/adhesive, please ensure that the system has a perm rating of less than or equal to .183 perm. This is really important. Think of concrete as a sponge.  Eventually, during a particularly wet winter for example, there is a good chance that this concrete will allow some moisture to pass through it.  When that occurs, if there is not an impermeable moisture barrier over the concrete, moisture will enter your flooring and will likely damage it.  Note: when working with adhesive be very careful not to contaminate the surface of the flooring planks with the glue as it may change the gloss level of the plank.

On or above grade installations (wooden subfloors):

  • Product Required: Trinity Bamboo Engineered Strand Bamboo or Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring
  • Installation Methods: Floating, Glue-Down Installation, or Nail-Down Installation method
    • To float a Trinity Bamboo Engineered Strand Bamboo floor over a wooden subfloor, simply roll down a vapor retarder such as Fortifiber Aquabar B, place a 1/8” pad over it, and install your floor over the pad.  Alternatively, install a combination vapor retarder and pad such as the FloorMuffler®, and install your floor over it.  Remember, it is very important that adjacent rooms be separated from one another by a transition molding to allow each room to expand or contract independently.
    • To glue-down Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring onto a wooden subfloor, apply a premium quality flooring adhesive such as Titebond 771-Step with an integrated vapor retarder.  If you don't use Titebond 771-Step, read the adhesive specifications carefully to ensure that the adhesive is compatible with Solid Strand Bamboo flooring. Note: Like a nail-down installation, an advantage to a glue-down installation over a wooden subfloor is that because the planks are not attached to one another (as would occur in a floating installation), each plank can expand and contract on its own during transitions from dry to damp seasons and vice-versa.  Note: when installing Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring into Kitchens or Baths where water may be spilled onto the surface, it is advisable to glue-down your flooring to help prevent moisture from moving down between the planks and migrating underneath the planks.  When working with adhesive be very careful not to contaminate the surface of the flooring planks with the adhesive.  No matter how hard you try to remove the adhesive there will likely still be residue which will change the gloss level of the plank.
    • To Nail-down Solid Strand Bamboo flooring onto a wooden subfloor (in environments not subject to water spills such as kitchens and baths), roll down a moisture vapor retarder such as Fortifiber Aquabar B or the FloorMuffler® and then nail your flooring down using an 18 gauge cleat nailer.  In a pinch, you can use an 18 gauge stapler but, depending on the quality of the steel, you may have more staples "curl" than you would prefer to deal with.  Do NOT use a 15 gauge cleat or staple.  Trust me.

As always, if you have any questions, the friendly staff at Trinity Bamboo is here to help.  Give us a call at 1-888-248-6538.  We look forward to hearing from you.

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Trinity Bamboo: FloorScore® Certified and Clean Air Verified®

Trinity Bamboo: FloorScore® Certified and Clean Air Verified®

  • Quality: Designed by Engineers, Built by Craftspeople, Sold and supported by kind folks on Bainbridge Island, WA. There is no higher quality bamboo flooring available...anywhere!
  • Integrity: As Trinity Bamboo’s founder, I, Tom Goodham, promise that any product I deliver to you will meet or exceed your expectations. If not, I will take it back and refund your money. 
  • Value: Up to 50%+ Less than Retail Pricing—we cut out the middle-men (all of them!) Buy direct and save (a lot).  Free Freight on any order over $500 with Free Inside Delivery.

Chock another one up to the goal of Clean Air in your home.

It was announced on January 5th, 2017, that the FloorScore® Certification program has been officially recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its Recommendations of Specifications, Standards and Ecolabels, to federal purchasers.  The fact that the EPA is encouraging Federal purchasers to seek out FloorScore® certified products is yet another strong indicator of how important environmental certifications such as FloorScore® should be to all American Consumers.  Why?  Because the air we breathe should be clean.  Is this really so much to ask?

FloorScore® Certification means the following:

    • Note: The standard CREL (Chronic Reference Exposure Level) listed for formaldehyde (reference B) is 9µg/m3 which equals .0073 ppm or Parts Per Million.
  • Audited Factories: The factory where these Certified products are produced is routinely audited by U.S. based Scientific Certification Systems Global Services.  The audits confirm that the materials the factory says they are using are, in fact, being used.

Trinity Bamboo’s Premium Solid and Engineered Flooring products are FloorScore® certified to the following Standard:  SCS-EC10.3-2014 v3.0 and conform to the CDPH/EHLB Standard Method v1.1-2010 (California Section 01350), effective January 1, 2012, for the school classroom and private office parameters when modeled as Flooring.

Trinity Bamboo’s products are also Clean Air Verified®.  Rather than trust that the testing performed by others is always correct, just to be sure, Trinity Bamboo gathers and submits samples from random production runs directly to International Accreditation Service (IAS) Certified Labs in the U.S., for Formaldehyde Emissions testing.

What are VOC’s anyway?  Volatile Organic Compounds are organic molecules which easily evaporate into the air. We are surrounded by VOC’s: some are dangerous and many are not. Whether they are dangerous or not often has a lot to do with concentration.

This brings us to our nemesis: Formaldehyde.  Recently, there has been substantial attention paid to a particular VOC known as Formaldehyde. Why? Formaldehyde is very common because it is emitted from both manufactured and natural materials. In other words, like it or not, it is everywhere.

Where does formaldehyde come from? Formaldehyde is emitted by many things including you, your dog, many composite wood products, trees, some paints, many fruits, adhesives, and wait—almost everything.

Why is formaldehyde bad? In high concentrations, formaldehyde is an irritant and long-term irritation to the human body can be very harmful.  Formaldehyde is considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to be a "probable human carcinogen".

How much formaldehyde is already in the air around you?  The Agency for Toxic Studies and Disease Registry states that the following are common concentrations of formaldehyde:

    0.0002-0.006 parts per million (ppm) in rural and suburban outdoor air

    0.0015-0.047 ppm in urban outdoor air

    0.020-.04 ppm in indoor air

How much formaldehyde does Trinity Bamboo’s flooring emit?  Because Trinity Bamboo is FloorScore® certified, it cannot have Formaldehyde emissions exceeding 0.0073 parts per million (ppm).

As with all Trinity Bamboo testing, you can view and download all of our test results here.

How do I keep formaldehyde levels low in my house?  Remember the “one dog” rule: One dog will smell like one dog.  Two dogs will double that smell…at least. Make smart decisions about everything you purchase.  Every building material used in your home should have documented low-VOC emissions or there is a possibility that their combined emissions will raise the total VOC content in your house above acceptable standards.

You get what you pay for.  It’s true – you know it is.  The fact is, sustainably produced Strand Bamboo flooring is expensive to manufacture.  Any flooring costing less than a product sold by Trinity Bamboo costs less for a reason.  Choose wisely.  Choose Trinity Bamboo.

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Trinity Bamboo: Seeking Perfection with Strand Bamboo

Trinity Bamboo: Seeking Perfection with Strand Bamboo

  • Quality: Designed by Engineers, Built by Craftspeople, Sold and supported by kind folks on Bainbridge Island, WA. There is no higher quality bamboo flooring available...anywhere!
  • Integrity: As Trinity Bamboo’s founder, I, Tom Goodham, promise that any product I deliver to you will meet or exceed your expectations. If not, I will take it back and refund your money.  See Trinity Bamboo’s Satisfaction Guarantee for details.
  • Value: Up to 50%+ Less than Retail Pricing—we cut out the middle-men (all of them!) Buy direct and save (a lot).

Let us examine a commonly held assumption about the inevitable wear and tear of all hardwood flooring.  The truth is, many of us expect a new floor to retain the shine and gloss level of a new car even though we are going to walk, run, play, skid, drop sausages, slide, hop, entertain friends, feed dogs, roll Hot Wheels, and otherwise live life to the fullest on our floor.  This is as it should be.  So, how do we avoid denting and scratching our floor?  Should we even try?

In the old days, our industry used to sell a lot of Traditional Bamboo flooring (slats glued together in a Flat Grain and Vertical grain format).  This beautiful flooring was sanded until it was very smooth and then factory coated with multiple layers of UV cured polyurethane.  The result?  A really-smooth floor which reflected light like polished stone.  The problem?  Even though most of this flooring was (still is) about 45% harder than Red Oak, just like oak, it was easily dented by common household activities.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard folks say “I’ve had oak floors for years and they still look beautiful – this traditional Bamboo floor shows every dent!”.  The truth is these customers were right about the denting of their traditional Bamboo floors but NOT about their oak floors.  If they had gotten down on their hands and knees and looked carefully at their Oak floor they would have seen that their Oak floor was likely one unending mass of dents.  However, because of the natural grain patterns and texture of Oak, the dents on their Oak flooring went unnoticed.  In summary, both the Traditional Bamboo and the Oak floors dented, you just couldn’t easily see the dents in the Oak flooring and they were all too easy to see on the smooth Traditional Bamboo flooring.

When I decided to start my own Bamboo flooring company I promised myself that I would sell flooring that had just enough grain and surface texture that folks wouldn’t see most of the common dings and scratches that occur on a daily basis to all floors in any home (yes, your home too). How did I propose to accomplish this? 

First of all, I started with premium Strand Bamboo.  Trinity Bamboo’s Strand Bamboo flooring uses some of the hardest Strand Bamboo in the world.  In November 2016 we received updated ASTM D1037-12 Janka Test Results from Benchmark International, a lab in Eugene, OR, specializing in the testing of Wood, Concrete, and Steel products. If you’d like to read the original report yourself, you can download it from the Downloads section of at testing measures the force required to push a .444" steel ball .222" (half-way) into a sample. The greater the force required to push the ball in half-way, the higher the Janka rating. For perspective, Northern Red Oak has an average Janka rating of 1290 and North American Hard Maple has an average Janka rating of 1450. Trinity Bamboo performed six tests on our Natural Solid Strand Bamboo flooring and six tests on our Carbonized Solid Strand Bamboo flooring (If you are comparing Trinity Bamboo to our competitors, note how many tests some of our competitors performed (if you can even download or view them).  Trinity Bamboo's Strand Bamboo received the following average results: Natural Solid Strand Bamboo Janka average of 3780 and Carbonized Solid Strand Bamboo Janka average of 3646. These are really-high average values.  What this means to you is that, no matter what, your Trinity Bamboo Flooring will be exceptionally difficult to dent. 

Secondly, to help folks not see the inevitable scratches and dents, rather than sand Trinity Bamboo's flooring until it is mirror-smooth, I have chosen to highlight Strand Bamboo’s natural textures by hand-scraping and wire-brushing the flooring’s surface to create a sophisticated and predictable “antiqued” appearance.  The result of this treatment to the floor is a rare depth of richness and beauty, consistent and elegant, yet possessing the grain patterns and texture of old barn wood; used, loved, and lived on. 

Thirdly, to help prevent scratching and premature coating wear-through, Trinity Bamboo’s Strand Bamboo flooring is coated with premium UV Cured anti-scratch coatings and high-performance aluminum oxide barrier layers which help protect against coating wear-through.

When you combine the exceptional hardness of Trinity Bamboo’s Strand Bamboo with the antiqued surface finished with premium coatings, you have a floor that allows you to instantly start living on it.  No fears.  No worries.  Release the hounds, schedule a party, and enjoy your floor. 

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Trinity Bamboo: The Industry

Trinity Bamboo: The Industry

  • Quality: Designed by Engineers, Built by Craftspeople, Sold and supported by kind folks on Bainbridge Island, WA. There is no higher quality bamboo flooring available...anywhere!
  • Integrity: As Trinity Bamboo’s founder, I, Tom Goodham, promise that any product I deliver to you will meet or exceed your expectations. If not, I will take it back and refund your money.  See Trinity Bamboo’s Satisfaction Guarantee for details.
  • Value: Up to 50%+ Less than Retail Pricing—we cut out the middle-men (all of them!) Buy direct and save (a lot).

Greetings!  Thank you for taking a moment to visit Trinity Bamboo’s blog.  My name is Tom Goodham and I am the owner of Trinity Bamboo.  I will be updating this site frequently with a mixture of technical and whimsical musings, all (or mostly all) pertaining to Strand Bamboo Flooring and other bamboo products. 

Today, I would like to take a moment to talk about the Bamboo Flooring industry as a whole; why I’m in it, where it’s been, and where its heading. 

For more than a decade I have been part of a movement which believes that we can do things better; building premium Bamboo Flooring in a sustainable manner while providing our customers with some of the finest flooring (of any material) the world has to offer.  The missing link?  Price.  The fact is that in the world of premium flooring there are just too many people between the manufacturing side and the retail side of the industry. Walk into any flooring retailer, see what is available, look at the pricing for this material, and make your own decision.  I think that all people should be able to afford premium Strand Bamboo Flooring, and to make this possible, I started Trinity Bamboo.

I began my flooring career with Teragren Fine Bamboo in 2003, entering into the world of bamboo flooring straight from the world of coffee at Starbucks’ corporate office in Seattle.  It was a super exciting evolution from a global scale corporation to an environment where a small group of us were writing our game plan every day and our decisions had an immediate impact on the industry.  We were sustainability activists, riding the crest of the “Green” wave and carrying with us the enthusiasm and fervor of those who had figured out that it was possible to have fun and succeed in business by taking care of the planet, our workers, and our customers. 

Right around 2005 Strand Bamboo Flooring exploded onto the market and began to rule the world.  Why?  It is one tough product that is dimensionally stable, almost impossible to dent, and can be stained to look like almost any specie of hardwood.  How is it made?  Bamboo culms (the big green stalks) are cut down by hand, carried down a mountain, and then cut into six foot lengths.  These six foot sections are then split into small, slightly curved wedges, using a tool very similar in appearance to an apple slicer.  These bamboo wedges then have their outer green skin and inner paper-like lining removed.  The now roughly rectangular slats are crushed and dried before being immersed in a bath of phenolic resin (the adhesive).  This adhesive coated fiber is then removed from the adhesive bath, dried, and set aside for pressing.  Next, large platens (hot press method) or large rectangular molds (cold press method), are filled by weight with the adhesive coated fiber.  The molds are then heated under tremendous pressure, fusing the bamboo into a solid block.  This solid block is cooled, sliced to a working thickness, and then moisture balanced for many weeks until a moisture content of 7-10% is achieved. 

Is all Strand Bamboo of equivalent quality?  No. Why?  There is such intense market pressure to keep costs down that some manufactures use inferior glue, poorly prepared raw materials, and they do not moisture-balance the Strand Bamboo blocks for a long enough period of time.  As we have all learned at one point or another, you get what you pay for.

Where is this industry going?  Strand Bamboo is not going away any time soon.  We just keep making it better without significantly increasing the cost.  For those of us willing to pay for it, Strand Bamboo made using today's premium adhesives is absolutely amazing as evidenced by the formaldehyde emission verification test results Trinity Bamboo received from Berkeley Analytical.  For both Trinity Bamboo’s FloorScore® Certified Engineered and Solid Strand Bamboo flooring, the testing found our products' formaldehyde emission levels to be undetectable.  You can see the original reports here.  I have kids too…I get the importance of this.

So…what next?  How do you protect yourself as a consumer?  How do you make a wise purchasing decision?  Buy your Strand Bamboo flooring from a company such as Trinity Bamboo that prioritizes Quality, Integrity, and Value.

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