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

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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Solid or Engineered Flooring - How to Choose | Trinity Bamboo

Solid or Engineered Flooring - How to Choose | Trinity Bamboo

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 a Trinity Bamboo 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. 

Trinity Bamboo's 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.  Trinity Bamboo Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring should not be installed below grade (below ground level).  Trinity Bamboo's Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring may be installed over Radiant Heating systems (on or above grade) using the nail-down method following NWFA Radiant Heat Installation Guidelines. Trinity Bamboo's Solid Strand Bamboo Floors, when nailed-down or glued-down, 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 Trinity Bamboo Solid Strand Bamboo Floor, there will be no movement or bounce as the planks are firmly 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 Flooring?  15 Gauge Cleat 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 Flooring 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.

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) or glued-down to almost any kind of level subfloor.  Our Engineered Flooring Planks are milled with the UNICLIC® L2C Locking System. Plank side-joints are milled with a Fold-Down Lock System and plank end-joints are milled with an Overlap to Lock system for easy Floating installations above, on, or below grade (ground level), and easy Glue-Down installations above or on grade.  Trinity Bamboo's Engineered Strand Bamboo Flooring may be installed over Radiant Heating systems (above, on, or below grade) using the floating method following NWFA Radiant Heat Installation Guidelines

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), a typical Engineered Floor will expand and contract less than a Solid Hardwood Floor will.  (Interesting Note: Unlike traditional hardwoods, Solid Strand Bamboo has an almost identical dimensional change coefficient as its Engineered counterpart.  What does this mean?  It means that when exposed to dry or moist climates Trinity Bamboo Engineered Flooring will expand and contract the same amount as Trinity Bamboo's Solid Strand Bamboo Flooring).  It is important to note that because Trinity Bamboo's Engineered Flooring 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.  Now pretend that 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 using the floating method 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: When installed as a floating floor, Trinity Bamboo's Engineered Flooring must be installed into rooms with each room separated by an expansion joint.  THIS is the secret to successfully installing flooring using the Floating method.

Why to Choose Solid or Engineered Flooring:

Trinity Bamboo 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

Trinity Bamboo Engineered Strand Bamboo Flooring – Why to Choose:

  • You want a Floating Floor
  • You have a radiant heating system and you want to Float your new floor over the top of it
  • 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)

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 Flooring 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 (Engineered Strand Bamboo Only) or Glue-Down Installation (Solid or Engineered Strand Bamboo Flooring)
    • 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 Engineered or 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 Eco Ultimate Silencer™ 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 Engineered or 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 Strand Bamboo Flooring.  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, lay down a moisture vapor retarder such as Fortifiber Aquabar B or the Eco Ultimate Silencer™ 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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