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  • Solid or Engineered - Let's Figure it Out
  • Post author
    Tom Goodham

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 or glued-down to a cement or wooden subfloor on or above grade (ground level).  Solid floors can wrap through doorways, flow into nooks, be installed under cabinets and appliances, providing customers with a classic vision of a hardwood floor; 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, 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 nailer 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, 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 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.

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 are 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
  • You are going to install your floor into a kitchen or a bathroom where water may splash onto the surface

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 10-15 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 .13 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
    • Floating a Trinity Bamboo Engineered Strand Bamboo floor over a wooden subfloor works well. Simply roll down Fortifiber Aquabar B, place a 1/8” pad over it, and lay down your floor.  Alternatively, use a combination vapor retarder and pad such as the floorMuffler®.  Really, the only disadvantage to using a floating floor over a wooden subfloor (and this is true for ANY floating installation) is that rooms must be separated by a transition molding to allow each room to expand or contract independently from the adjacent room.
    • Gluing down Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring onto a wooden subfloor works well. For this type of installation, an adhesive with an integrated vapor retarder is more than adequate.  As always, read the adhesive specifications to ensure that the adhesive is compatible with Solid Strand Bamboo. 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.  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.
    • Nail-down installations. This is an optimal way to install Trinity Bamboo’s Solid Strand Bamboo flooring over a wooden subfloor.  Roll down a moisture vapor retarder such as Fortifiber Aquabar B or the floorMuffler® and then nail your flooring down.  Use an 18 gauge cleat nailer.  In a pinch, you can use an 18 gauge stapler but, depending on the quality of the steel in the cleat nail you may have more staples curling 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.

  • Post author
    Tom Goodham

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