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How to Nail-Down Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring | Trinity Bamboo

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How to Nail-Down Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring | Trinity Bamboo

If you have a plywood or OSB subfloor on or above grade (ground level), a nail-down installation of your new Trinity Bamboo Solid Strand Bamboo flooring provides one of the most cost-effective and resilient installation methods available. 

With all brands of Strand Bamboo, there are two primary considerations to take into account as you prepare to nail-down your new flooring:

  1. All Solid Strand bamboo flooring is very hard and very dense
  2. Not all nailers and fasteners work with all brands of Solid Strand Bamboo flooring

First, let’s talk about hardness and density.  Trinity Bamboo’s Strand bamboo is both really hard and really dense.  How hard is it?  For perspective, Red Oak has a Janka Hardness rating of about 1290.  Trinity Bamboo’s Strand bamboo, on the other hand, has an average Janka Hardness rating of about 3700 which means that it is 186% harder than Red Oak!  Why is this a great thing?  Like other super-hard and dense tropical hardwoods, Trinity Bamboo’s Strand Bamboo is very difficult to dent and, as such, you may never need to sand out dents from its surface.  This is great!  Why do you need to take density into consideration when nailing-down a Solid Strand Bamboo floor?  My favorite analogy is that of a glass of water.  If you put your finger into a glass of water, the level of the water will rise around your finger because the water is dense to the point where it is non-compressible.   Strand bamboo is not so different.  If you use a traditional 15 gauge flooring cleat nail (this is the size nail used since the 1950's to install classic site-finished 3/4" oak etc.) the Strand Bamboo will rise around the nail forming a slightly raised area known as a dimple.  This is bad.  The solution?  Use an 18 gauge cleat nail which is thinner and has less mass than a 15 gauge cleat nail.  The bottom line is that an 18 Gauge Cleat Nail has enough strength that it will pass through the super dense Strand Bamboo but not so much mass that it will cause dimpling.  It is the perfect solution.

Can I use 18 gauge staples?  I’m glad you asked.  No.  Please don’t.  If you try using staples more than likely you'll just waste your time and damage a bunch of planks.  18 gauge staples are just not as strong as cleats and many of the staples will crumple and fold when they are shot into the flooring.  Staples are also more likely to damage the plank’s tongue.  Stick with 18 gauge cleats - it is a proven solution.

What type of nail gun should I use?  The reality is there are probably a number of brands of 18 gauge cleat nail guns which will get the job done.  Having said that, the last thing you want to do is to buy a nail gun only to find that it doesn't work as well as you wish it did.  To help Trinity Bamboo's flooring customers find a reliable solution, we worked with Powernail to test their American-Made Cleat Nailers with our Tongue and Groove flooring to ensure we can provide our customers with a tested and proven nailing solution. The following images and their associated comments were provided to Trinity Bamboo by Powernail as part of a report documenting their testing program.  Thank you Powernail!

Powernail 50P 18 Gauge Nailer

Powernail 50F 18 Gauge Nailer

If you are a professional flooring installer and you are nailing-down Strand Bamboo flooring day in and day out, try the Powernail 50P Flex nailer.  If, on the other hand, you want a nailer that is a bit easier to use and costs less money, try the Powernail 50F. In my opinion the Powernail 50F is the PERFECT nailer for Contractors and DIY types and the price is competitive with some much lower-quality brands available out there on the web.  Most importantly, both the 50P and the 50F cleat nailers have been tested with Trinity Bamboo flooring and will get the job done, each and every time.

What length nail to use?  Try the 1 ½” HD Cleat Nails from Powernail.  The patented head of the Powernail 18 gauge HD cleat is unique in its shape and is designed to reduce tongue splitting.  This length of nail is optimal for a nominal ½” thick flooring plank and will not over-penetrate typical ¾” Plywood sheathing.  

Powernail 18 Gauge 1.5 Inch Cleat Nails

Communicate with your installer: Last and not least, even though your installer should read the installation guidelines and know to use an 18 gauge cleat nailer when installing Solid Strand Bamboo, it never hurts to remind them. Remember, most installers will have a 15 gauge nailer in their truck and that is the tool they will turn to unless told otherwise.  Don't let that happen.  Protect your investment by agreeing to an installation plan with your installer before they start the job.  That installation plan should definitely include the use of an 18 gauge cleat nailer.

As always, if you have any questions, please call the Trinity Bamboo team at 1-888-248-6538.  We'd love to help!

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