April 13/20, 2015; Volume 29/Number 1
By Bill Treiber
Bamboo accessories (moldings, treads, risers and vents) always follow bamboo flooring trends. Today’s popular trend—woven, strand woven or stranded bamboo construction—differs dramatically from horizontal and vertical construction. Instead of gluing strips of bamboo together in a uniform way, strands of bamboo fibers are compressed under intense pressure to form the floorboards.
Part of the appeal of woven bamboo is its unique visuals. Manufacturers can create exotic looking flooring, blending colors and lengths of bamboo strips. Strand woven bamboo floors can be highly designed, including handscraped, wire brushed, antiqued, distressed visuals, in addition to being stained almost any color.
Woven construction is the most environmentally friendly form of bamboo flooring because it uses very little adhesive. And it’s considered the most durable of all the bamboo flooring due to the intense pressure used to create it.
Continuing the “green” theme, oil finishes are the latest trend to hit bamboo flooring and accessories. These natural finishes contain no VOCs and enhance the depth and beauty of the floor. The finish bonds with the cells of the wood to give a no-gloss appearance that is appealing to many customers.
Different colors, sizes and thicknesses of accessories are now available to complement trending bamboo products. It is important to maintain consistent coloring for both flooring and accessories such as moldings, vents, treads and risers. With all types of bamboo, color changes from season to season, harvest to harvest.
Many contractors are not aware that bamboo moldings, treads and vents can be made from the same type of bamboo used for a flooring job (except engineered bamboo). Bamboo accessories need to adjust to the climate of the installation room, so they should be left in small piles for a few days. In addition, samples of the flooring should be sent to the accessories manufacturer to ensure an exact color blend.
Installing strand bamboo moldings can be more difficult than moldings made of other materials. The strand woven material in particular is extremely dense and installers will need to either pre-drill these moldings and then nail them, glue them in or use a nail gun that can fire a 1”-long micro thin nail.
Glue transition moldings down as opposed to nailing them. The same adhesive or an alternative product can be used to glue down flooring as long as the manufacturer recommends it and instructions are followed. Once the pieces are installed, the moldings need to be weighted to ensure a solid bond. For transitions, blue painter’s tape will help to hold the molding in place while the adhesive dries; a weighted object may have to be placed on top of the molding to hold it down.
For installing bamboo stair treads, both nailing and adhesives will be needed. A stair jig for scribed ends and nail guns strong enough to nail through a 3000- plus Janka hardness is needed. The proper construction adhesive is critical to proper and long term performance. Due to the moisture transfer from the sub tread and riser, be it wood or concrete, a water permeable adhesive is necessary. All other recommended methods of install for treads apply. Bamboo treads are made 12 inches wide which typically requires a length cut on the square edged side, further complicating the install. An experienced installer should talk with the manufacturer and get additional recommendations before installing bamboo treads.