Help with bamboo floors with aluminum oxide urethane finish
A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 20192005
I came across your comments on bamboo a few of my friends installed it last summer. It DID get scratches but I think they look cool. It gives the floor character and almost any type of wood is going to have scratches. At first they stand out, but over time they will look very very cool. Good luck and peaceColleen M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Melbourne, Florida
I have to say that this thread scared me to death when I first read it. I had just nailed down my first two rows of horizontal carbonized bamboo and we have 2 50 lb. dogs that I just assumed would totally destroy my floor. I'm a pretty slow worker, so I just put my final rows down today...roughly 6 weeks after starting. During this time, my dogs have been all over the floor, my wife has been in an out of the room painting, and it's seen a normal daily traffic flow. To my knowledge, we have one scratch (that only I seem to see), and a dent (where I dropped the floor-nailer). In fact, I'm looking at the floor right now, and it looks great.
Maybe I haven't given it enough time, so I'll certainly keep an eye on it but so far so good for us.
Also, I'd like to add that at no time during my research and shopping phase did I see advertising that mislead me in any way. On the contrary, everything I saw and everyone I spoke to led me to believe that this was not some sort of "uber product". It was just a beautiful and earth friendlier way of decorating your home...that also happened to be cheaper.
I'm not an expert, but wouldn't a sliding refrigerator damage nearly any natural flooring? ...That sounds sarcastic, but I don't mean it that way. I honestly don't know.Dave W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Saratoga Springs, New York
I began this topic with my letter 2 years ago. I finally came back to the site today and was amazed at what I started. So many of you are disappointed just as I. I feel your pain.
As for an update, my bamboo floors just keep getting worse, i.e., shrinking gaps, bowing, SCRATCHES and GOUGES, have all become the norm. In an area close to a door, I now have water damage under the floor. It literally looks as if the floor is bubble rotting from underneath. And it continues to grow!
The installer won't return my phone calls anymore. The manufacturer takes NO responsibility whatsoever ("Buyer Beware," he says).
Yesterday, I had a new contractor visit and investigate my flooring. To replace one room alone with red oak will exceed $5,000! He, as well as most reputable flooring companies, REFUSE to install Bamboo. The major supplier in the Northeast has gone bankrupt due to the number of lawsuits against them.
As for a class action lawsuit, who do we sue? Last week, our local paper carried an article about Bamboo floors on the inside front cover of its Real Estate section. Although it gave some warnings, it still touted the flooring. It churned up bad memories. I feel it my duty to force the flooring industry to stop promoting this product. Anyone with me?
home owner - Severna Park, Maryland
I am a contractor and have been researching bamboo flooring and aluminum oxide finishes. One of the e-mails mentioned stranded bamboo. This is the "hard" bamboo. All others appear to be exceptionally soft and should be avoided. Unfortunately, the only strand that was available to me was 3/8 thick glue down, which I just don't trust. As for the finish, aluminum oxide is added to urethane finishes for abrasion resistance. If you must refinish, it appears that there only two products that are compatible with the aluminum oxide urethane, so choose carefully. I still have not been able to get good specs on this. From my experience, multiple thin layers of finish are the most durable, but I don't believe that any one finish is "hard". I believe that the hardness of the wood, or substrate, is going to determine if the floor will dent, not the finish. Also, thick coats of finish seem to be far less durable than multiple thin coats, no matter what the material. So, a good finish will not protect a soft floor and I am always hesitant to use a product that does not have a proven track record, such as bamboo. I continue to find that many sales people are ill informed on the products they are selling. My local rep gave my client the same bad information as others received in this thread. I found out the truth when I smacked our sample with the handle of a putty knife. My clients have decided to go for what we know works, which is solid white oak with a 50 year guarantee on the finish. Good luck all.Curtis S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Portland, Oregon
Bamboo (or any wood floor) is a natural product and subject to wear. However, the real issue is really the finish and not the wood underneath. Even if you install CUMARU (also called Brazilian Teak) which is one of the top two or three hardest woods in the world, the finish will scratch even if the wood itself will not dent.
As for the cupping, unless you are installing teak, plantation or Asian, virtually any solid wood floor will cup because of differences in humidity between the subfloor, the wood itself, and the ambient room.
Bottom line--some people are not good candidates for wood floors. However, by choosing a natural solid floor, minor damage becomes part of the floor and does not detract from its beauty.
Unique American Teak - Sarasota, Florida
I have horizontal bamboo in the natural finish. It has a lot of light scratches, but they are not highly visible in the natural finish. The problem is the seams between boards and the dents and deeper scratches fill up with dirt and I have black (dirty) seams and dents. (I imagine the dirty seams would have been prevented if I had put on a layer of finish after the floor was installed, but I didn't think of it, and others who have tried it have had problems finding a post-finish that will adhere to the pre-finished pieces). I haven't had the cupping that others have experienced and this may because mine was nailed, not glued. I would eventually like to sand and refinish. Has anyone tried this? What type of a finish would be best? Another question - will the bowling wax fill dents on the natural colored floor (or is it a darker color)? If so, where does one purchase bowling wax?Michelle W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
OK, you have got us seriously worried about Bamboo flooring. We just purchased 2500 ft**2 of this to replace all the tile and carpet in our home. We bought a dark (finish is called Espresso) horizontal engineered product from a large box retail store and intend to install it as a floating floor over a concrete slab. Curious whether or not you would recommend for high traffic or wet (i.e. kitchen) installation.Keith B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
We hate our new floor, which was installed less than a month ago. The installers have had to replace 4 boards from scratches they caused and this morning I noticed, more stains, scratches, etc. Do you all think that a polyurethane finish would have been better? One of the installers told me that the "bamboo itself is very strong, but the urethane finish is soft". Why would they ever coat a hard wood with a soft finish? I think too little is known about bamboo flooring at this point and the installers were telling me tall tales. My floor is the premium vertical carbonized version.
Yes, I would like to be included in a class action!
- Danbury, Connecticut
I'm an owner of a bamboo flooring company in NYC and our brand of bamboo is called SILKROAD. SILKROAD is actually one of the pioneers of the whole bamboo flooring industry in North America -- we've been doing it for almost 12 years -- sold over 2 million square feet of it. The reason why some of you have had poor quality is because you purchased poor quality bamboo flooring. Not all bamboo flooring is equal. But even the best quality bamboo can still be scratched like any other hardwood floor. I think people scrutinize bamboo more because it is new. The most important thing to look for when buying bamboo flooring -- or any product brand for that matter, is experience. How long has the company been around? Most companies are just importers or bamboo flooring. They buy what ever is cheap that month and bring it into the country. SILKROAD, along with very small group of like companies in this country, actually sell and are involved in our own brand of bamboo flooring from start to finish. If you buy bamboo flooring for $1.99 or some crazy low price, you WILL be dissatisfied, or if the company has no history. Our clients rave about our products. It's a whole other world on this side of the fence. All you have to do is your research and remember that you get what you pay for.Jermain T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- New York, New York
I had 1000 sq.ft of natural/vertical bamboo flooring installed 3 months ago, and now the flooring is cupping. It was installed on slab w/bostik's vapor barrier type adhesive.
Has anyone been able to correct the cupping, without ripping up the floor?
- Cathedral City, California
My husband and I just had a new 2400 sq ft home built. IMO we made a mistake by putting in bamboo throughout the entire house, with the exception of bathrooms and kitchen. The rest is all bamboo. Its horizontal carbonized, and we bought it because we have 2 dogs (pugs which are toy breeds) and 2 kids. We were told this was the strongest wood out there. Throughout the whole installation every time a board would contact another it would scratch. We've been living here for 1.5 weeks now and my dogs nails have completely tore up the hall and entryway. I keep my dogs nails trimmed. If its touched the floor, its damaged it, everything including a rubbermaid box. I am VERY disappointed. I knew hardwood would get some scratches, but I didn't expect to have to tiptoe on it. My in laws have 2 huge dogs, an enormous boxer and a Brittany spaniel, both very hyper, and their floors are 2.5 years old and do not look like my 1.5 week old ones. The retailers must be ill informed, because we went to 3 different ones, and everyone said the same thing, that it was the best thing we could buy with kids and animals... I really regret it. I wish I had let the builder put in their cheap vinyl and carpet.Rebecca R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Beavercreek, Ohio
I too put bamboo floors in my new home and within a year they were scratched and gouged - though nothing more than normal wear and tear mind you - to an unacceptable extent.
I'm thinking this is a bill of goods that the flooring industry has sold the public. Clearly, the production costs for bamboo based on the price of raw materials have to be a mere fraction of what they are for real hardwood, and yet they can market the flooring surface as a premier surface and sell it for a premium. Result? High profit margins.
Too bad the material doesn't perform as advertised. If you get a bamboo floor, you're making a serious mistake.
- Des Moines, Iowa
My husband and I considered all options for flooring when we moved to our new home. We had name brand laminate in our previous two homes but were interested in looking at wood or bamboo. We carefully compared price, durability and care and chose bamboo. We chose it for several reason--partially because of the renewable resource issue, partially because it goes well with our decor, partially because it is just plain gorgeous. We picked the natural color, horizontal, with an Aluminum Oxide finish. It's 6 ply engineered, 3" planks. It's a name brand (a company that has made floor coverings in America for over 125 years) installed by a national floor coverings chain. They acclimated it in the home for a couple of days before installing it, even though the packaging said it was not necessary. They used a nasty smelling brown glue that I'm certain was not water-based.
We realized that the cat's claws would have to be kept trimmed and we don't wear shoes around the house much (usually just Birks), and never heels, or God forbid, stilettos! It's been about 6 weeks. We've yet to trim the cat's claws and they scurry and scramble about like a couple of cartoon characters but they don't seem to have had an effect. We've protected the floors from furniture and tried to be careful about dropping things. That's what you do with wood floors. We have rugs at entrances to catch the dirt. We have a couple of small dents where we have dropped things. Gosh, if we'd dropped a knife on a dining room table or an oak floor it would have left a dent, too. We have seen no evidence of "cupping" or warping or anything alarming. I have not check for fading, I'll do that and post if I find any. It did come with a 25-year finish warranty and a 1-year installation warranty. It's not bombproof like laminate but I have been lucky to avoid the other issues that everyone here seems to be posting about. I wonder if the quality of the flooring makes a difference, like one poster said. We paid just under $8.50 a sf, installed. There are a few tiny gaps between planks, but not big and not worrisome. We did not install in wet areas--common sense tells me that's like putting nice wooden furniture outside or letting children have Thanksgiving dinner on a wooden dining table with no table cloth or coasters. I guess I'll have to post a follow up in a few weeks/months.
I'm sad to see all the poor results that others have had but I have to say we are DELIGHTED with ours. I guess we're in the minority, but maybe paying a little more for it and paying a professional installer was worth the expense. It was not cheap, more than laminate, but less than other hardwoods. I hope it turns out to be a good investment.
Now we just have to figure out what to do about our annual steel drum band home concert for carnival. I think we'll have to require bare feet this year ;-)
- Austin, Texas (Cedar Park)
I also have had nothing but bad results from my bamboo flooring.
I'm not someone complaining about bamboo without a justifiable reason. I'm also not someone complaining by transitioning from vinyl to my first hardwood floor. I've lived with white oak hardwood in my entry for over 5 years and it's held up well to 2 shar-pei's (60 lbs and 90 lbs). It received its share of scratches per say, but they weren't very deep or noticeable. They are what you'd expect from a hardwood floor, but my bamboo isn't reacting the same way.
Recently I upgraded my entire downstairs removing all carpet, vinyl and hardwood (white oak), replacing it with slate, marble and bamboo. The only reason I replaced the white oak hardwood in the entry way is because it really didn't fit in with the slate, marble and bamboo.
I went with horizontal carbonized bamboo flooring from a major reseller who is touted on a variety of "Home Improvement" cable channels. I chose the nail down variety, using a vapor barrier and nailing into OSB subflooring, perpendicular to the flooring joists as is recommended by the manufacturer.
I can honestly say the quality of this product is EXTREMELY lacking. I blindly assumed that if this company was touted by the "Home Improvement" experts, then it must be at least a decent product. Now I feel sorry for all the unsuspecting people in the makeover episodes who received bamboo flooring from this flooring reseller.
The product claims to have a 30 year warranty that's labeled on the outside of every carton, but I found no paperwork describing the details of this included in any of the 600 square feet of bamboo that I installed. I noticed during installation that this flooring was scratching easily, but I wasn't extremely concerned with this. That all changed once I begin moving furniture back into place. As careful as we were (i.e. placing felt pads on everything) the bed frame with it's plastic rollers scratched the floor when we rolled it six inches over to center the bed frame in the room. These weren't slight scuffs, but rather deep indentations from the pattern on the wheels. Even rolling the vacuum across the floor has left unsightly scratches in the floor. We used to let our dogs sleep with us in a bedroom that now has bamboo, but within two days following installation we've no had to ban them from entering the room because their toe nails have severely scratched the surface leaving penetrating gouges.
I never had this trouble with other hardwoods, regardless if it was a vacuum cleaner, hand truck, piano cart, or dogs toe nails. There was never this problem with the white oak in our entry over a 5 year period, but in only 3-4 weeks time this bamboo has forced us to isolate the dogs from any room with bamboo and its forced us to wear slippers in any room with bamboo flooring.
I've been around a lot of hardwood floors in my life and this is not anywhere near the same quality of any hardwoods I've seen. If you don't believe me I'd be happy to send a flooring sample to any dissenters in the audience.
Again, the white oak in our entry was regularly abused. By not only my family tramping in and out of the house, but also by my dogs that aren't the best behaved when someone knocks on the door. I'm most thankful that the entry now has slate and not bamboo--phew!
If there is any momentum with a class action suit, or other effort underway, I would be willing to do what's necessary to seek an equitable solution. I rather just have a decent floor rather than make some lawyer rich off my bed experience.
- Camas, Washington
Isn't it peculiar -- I'm finding this site a HUGE comfort! It's nice to know that I'm not the only person who got caught in this little scam.
I've lived my long life on oak hardwood floors, so I have reasonably good hardwood training. I use a dust mop reflexively, and I always put rugs over high-traffic areas. My wood furniture has felt protectors on its feet, and my dog doesn;t click when he walks. And I have also learned by living with them that actual hardwood is really tough stuff -- it does scratch, but eventually the scratches become a pleasing patina. And you have to drop an anvil on it to actually dent the wood.
Like everyone else here, I was thrilled at the notion of something even tougher and longer-lived. And like everyone else here, I got something very much like balsa wood with a high-tech finish. I had my kitchen floored first, as part of its remodel, and by the time the contractor moved on to the rest of the great room, the kitchen floor had huge grooves in it, along with a lot of random dents from chairs being sat in & so on. Mine seems to have a better finish than a lot of yours -- it even manages to flex enough to cover the really deep grooves and dents without a break in the surface. But the grooves and dents are unbelievable.
I was interested not only in buying green, but in buying locally. So I bought my flooring -- which cost about the same as oak, BTW -- from a local store with a cutesy name, which sells architectural salvage and green building-related products. Their supplier is an importer of a range of high-end products, also pretty local, and has a dazzling website where they explain how superior their bamboo flooring is and why.
So I figured the importer was responsible for the installed flooring, which has absolutely failed to live up to its billing. And I figured the retailer would be responsible for taking back the 800 sq ft of flooring that's still in unopened boxes, since I clearly wasn't going to install this defective product in the rest of my house. Silly me! They both came out to inspect the damage, and told me both before and after their inspection that their flooring is not the problem -- no reimbursement for the installed flooring, and no refund for unopened boxes.
I live in Washington State, and our Attorney General has a consumer protection program. I called them, they told me I definitely had a valid complaint, I filed my complaint on-line, and now I'm waiting to see what happens. Might be worth checking in your various States to see if you can do likewise.
I'd be happy to participate in a class-action suit, but I'm wondering who we'd sue. I get the impression that there are lots of smallish importers like the one who posted here, and that they don't form a sue-able bloc. I'm wondering, too, since all of us seem to have the same experience -- of having bought a supposedly warranted product that nobody stands behind -- if those same importers are now desperately trying to make each of us feel that we're unique, that nobody else is having problems, because otherwise they'll be doing so much refunding and replacing that they'll go under. I notice that a number of us have used the "25% harder than oak" phrase -- possibly we could act based on false advertising? In the meantime, I am planning to write letters to the local Green Builders' Guild, and to the Northwest Builders' Association, which is part of the National Builders' Assn. I'm not sure what to do to warn other people like us, who buy the flooring ourselves and then get it installed.
For what it's worth -- the store that delivered my kitchen appliances told me to bring in a very experienced local hardwood-floor guy. He and a colleague came out and did an impressive forensic analysis on the damage. Their opinion -- the worst of the grooves were indeed caused by my refrigerator being rolled into place, and an oak floor would have been scratched by it, though not grooved. As to the chair dents and so on -- they say that they estimate my bamboo floor is about the hardness of fir. So I'm putting oak in the living areas and good old indestructible porcelain tile in the kitchen -- at my own expense, of course!
- Port Angeles, Washington
I'm another person with gouges and scratches in her bamboo floor. Has anyone tried stopping the damage (not fixing it, but keeping more from happening) by coating with varathane?
This is what they suggested to me at my good hardware store, but I'd like to hear the experience of others.
- San Francisco, California
Wish I had found this site before we installed our bamboo floor 1 year ago. Our problem is some of our boards are getting dark streaks; I'm assuming it's mildew under the finish. We glued the boards directly onto a concrete slab(20 years old) and though dents and scratches haven't been a problem( no kids or dogs) we do have some major cupping. Has anyone else had the very dark streaks in light bamboo appear-I'm terrified that the whole floor will turn black.Renee B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Vero Beach, Florida
We finished installing our vertical bamboo flooring yesterday morning, by yesterday evening there were a half dozen deep scratches from our dog. We put Red Oak all through the rest of our house and after 6 months the floor is still flawless. Has anyone figured out how to fix the scratches and dings?Dan S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Portland, Oregon
Like many others I am having the same problems of scratching, denting, and bleaching. I have several rugs down to prevent future damage but then I end up with two different colors of floor. Has anyone tried to use Johnson paste wax these floors? I know the instructions say not to but they are really looking bad with all the scratches. ThanksPat O [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- St. Louis, Missouri
Wow, I'm so glad I found this. I was about to order bamboo and something felt off. The folks at the hardwood store I'm dealing with haven't installed a bamboo floor yet. The owner talked to the distributors but, she said, "None of them would say anything negative about their product." She had one customer come in who gave a negative report, so she passed it on to me. I had also heard the claims about bamboo being harder than oak, yet she said the hardness index of the product I was looking at is less than oak. I guess I'll be going back into her showroom and picking another wood.Rita F [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Nashville, Tennessee
As a professional in this biz, and I admit I did not read all the posts, bamboo is a product oversold.
First, the nice people from the Republic are not aware of our ad laws and the fact they can not, should not, place ads with false info.
I am a full time professional flooring inspector, trained by hardwood flooring associations with 30 plus years in the flooring biz. Many people importing bamboo are not even aware of the different species characteristics or the differences between the carbonized or caramblized dark bamboo.
One importer got upset with a report she commissioned that stated the differences because she had been stating in her lit it was harder than red oak, sorry, not true. Carbonized is softer.
Since she paid for the report and it was not in her favor, she was upset with me. She thought if she paid for the report, it was to be in her favor, that is not the way professional inspectors work. That is another "CHARACTERISTIC" of the impostors, they do not see lying as wrong or illegal because it is "biz".
All this to get here, bamboo, who do you guys sue? the dealer who bought it to sell to you? or the importer who will disappear as soon you have papers served? Who? if you do, you must first act to secure property when the papers are also served.
For twenty grand, you too can become an importer of bamboo. Today, many hardwoods are imported that do not have to meet the National Oak (wood) Flooring Manufacturers Associations stringent standards. Heck, many American firms also do not and are asking another wood association to set their own standards that will be lax to steal from consumers, but, back to bamboo,and hardwood. The imported hardwood is cut in Russia, shipped to China, sawn, dried and sent here. They do not have to meet any standards as do our NOFMA suppliers.
The hardest part of the bamboo is cut off in the processing. Bamboo is soft, will scratch, and dent. All wood will scratch and indent.
If you can find an honest inspector in your area trained in wood, you may be able to have your bamboo inspected, get a report to show your dealer, and maybe he can "go back at" the importer. The manufacturer in China is beyond your reach currently.
An inspector can not write a report on the "implied warranty" used by the salesperson, but, you can get copies of the lit from the importer, and, then, the warranties, and compare industry "facts or data" to what was told to you about performance and maybe get your money back, maybe.
Bamboo is not a hard product and despite what they say, it is extremely moisture sensitive, think of it this way, bamboo grows in "wet areas", then dried, so, inherit natural characteristic "to want to get the moisture back", it will swell more than wood and react more quickly. Buyer beware!
- Laurens, South Carolina
ok, last one, here you go, more bamboo info from an inspector
Subject: bamboo plywood
"We have a small file on bamboo-related journal articles. Bamboo is a remarkable material. It can reach maturity in about 3 to 8 years...that's about 1/10 that of wood. With this rate of growth, one would expect greatly reduced properties when compared to wood. On the contrary, the following table shows some comparison between Bamboo and Southern Yellow Pine (Loblolly) (from reference 1, below):
strength...........MOE.........................Modulus of rupture (Bending
In this same study, the shrinkage from green to air-dry was measured to be approximately....0.02% in the longitudinal direction, 9.3% in the tangential direction, and 18.2% in the radial direction. When compared to Northern Red Oak, for example, Bamboo shrinkage values are approximately TWICE that of N. Red oak.
Information for this comparison to Oak can be found in Table 3-5 of our Wood Handbook (these values are from green to OVEN-dry, not AIR-dry)..
If you have concerns with using a 3-ply panel consider the following: In regular plywood, this would mean that you are dealing with (likely) 1/4" plywood. However, in this case, the concerns that you have should be reduced because you are dealing with 1/4" layers, rather than thin veneers. Be sure that you are dealing with a panel that has a balanced layup. That is, outer layers are aligned in one direction and inner core is cross-banded....
Two things should be considered:
1. The panel should be finished on BOTH sides so that you do not get moisture entering on one side (the unfinished side). A moisture gradient across the thickness (which happens when only one side is finished) will surely cause a flat panel to warp.
2. Given that you now know that Bamboo moves (shrinks/expands) twice as much as Oak, be sure to incorporate this movement into the design of your furniture.
1. Lee, A.W., X. Bai, and P.N. Peralta. 1994. Selected Physical and mechanical properties of giant timber bamboo grown in South Carolina. Forest Products Journal. 44(9):40-46.""
aluminum oxide finishes, not actually in the finish, beneath it, covered by the finish,,,,,,, and, do you ever actually wear down to the bare wood? just another ad trick or marketing tool, one man's post about multi layers of thin finish is correct.
- Laurens, South Carolina