From Haiti, Day One

November 30, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring

The following post is from Dan Smith, the President and CEO of Smith & Fong Co., the makers of Plyboo.


Photo taken by Sue Rooks. Please click to view her Flickr Photo Stream.

Haiti gets a bad rap. I have to say that. With as much hardship as Haiti now experiences, it is a greatly hopeful country with some of the world’s most inspiring minds within Haiti and around the world imagining the possibilities for positive change. I have been cohort to Haiti by Alice an inspired, big-hearted creative from Parsons design school in New York. “Haiti needs bamboo, you need to come, she says.” And so I am…. happily here. The “Invest in Haiti Forum hosted jointly by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Clinton Foundation and the Haitian Government is running and I am here to listen and learn.

I arrive in Port au Prince from Miami at 1pm in the afternoon. It is hot and the airport is casual. Flying in over the Haitian landscape I was curious to see the terrain. I had read that Haiti has lost most of its native forests. I see a mountainous landscape only sparely covered in green and imagine a time when lush tropical forests might have covered the hills and ravines that I now see. And then, what it would take to return it to a verdant landscape.

We are met by a Haitian five-piece band and after claiming my luggage and being processed, we are bussed to our lodging. The drive from the airport to our hotel on the hill, the El Rancho, tells the story of today’s Haiti. The roads are wrecked and at time uncertain. Trucks, buses, cars and foot traffic compete to get to their destinations. Large and small groups of people line the streets sharing space with makeshift stands, selling food, cloths and essentials. Buildings in various states of collapse, construction or reconstruction compete with tent villages labeled by the organizations that provided them.

When we finally arrive at the hotel it is more of the same. The hotel was badly damaged during the earthquake some years back and is still only half back to its former glory. The swimming pool is broken and contains only a small amount of rain fall, a sign of the ongoing draught. It is clean though and the staff pleasant. A heliport graces the lot just above us over the wall. The streets are narrow and stonewalls are very much part of the landscape. From poolside the ram-shackled sprawl that is port au prince stretches to the left and right below with more mountains in the far distance.

I am anxious to make contact with Alice and Maryline who are my unofficial hosts here in Haiti. Maryline is Haitian, bubbly, fun and dedicated to everything that Haiti can be. We drive to the karibe where the forum will be held the following day. I meet Alice face to face for the first time. We all fall into conversation on what is going on, what can be done, what needs to be done, who is doing it, who needs to meet and connect with who. Wonderful people join us in conversation. Everyone is involved in something, so many are interconnected and everyone absolutely everyone is infected with infinite possibility.

Throughout this magical evening I meet and shake hands with Bill Clinton, have a warm exchange with Donna Karen and hear Michel Martelly the President of Haiti
talk about the Haiti to come. I finish my evening in the company of my hosts, a mangrove restorationist, a PhD. in aquaculture, goat stew and the stars that blanket the night skies in this Caribbean country unlike any other.

Tomorrow is the first day of the forum.

What is SoyBond? Part II

November 17, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring

Although, Smith & Fong Co. has been manufacturing with soy for some time Plyboo SoyBond was formally introduced at GreenBuild 2011 in Toronto this year. To help customers understand the benefits of Soybond, the company created this helpful visual explanation of Plyboo Soybond:

Why Are Strand Bamboo Floors So Thin?

November 3, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring

PlybooStrand is not only the brand’s hardest bamboo floor (3 times as strong as oak!), but is it’s thinnest floor offering at 3/8” and 9/16” compared to the standard Plyboo flooring product at 5/8”.

Strand bamboo flooring is a composite floor, using  great compression and tremendous force to mold and sharp both the look and the durable quality of the product. This allows  the flooring  to be manufactured at a thinner thickness while still retaining it’s great density and hardness. PlybooStrand bamboo flooring has been very popular and its strength and beauty are the reasons.

Thinner thicknesses also have other benefits for both residential and commercial spaces.  For residential environments where ceiling heights are limited or door heights have been adjusted for thinner flooring products the 3/8″ can save ceiling heights and possibly eliminate the need to adjust doors to accommodate a thicker flooring product. For commercial spaces a thinner floor is idea for pairing up with other thin flooring surfaces such as tile, carpet or vinyl. This can minimize or eliminate the need for transition strips between flooring products and make the installation go much more smoothly.  Along with PlybooStrand’s superior durability  and easy glue-down characteristics, the PlybooStrand product at 3/8″ is idea for commercial uses.

The PlybooStrand 9/16″ flooring is great where a thicker flooring is desired and where a nail down application is appropriate. Whether for commercial or residential this product will be there for the long term. As Smith & Fong continues to advance strand bamboo technology and explore applications, you can be sure to see new and exciting additions to the PlybooStrand flooring line.

Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

How to avoid denting your bamboo floor

October 25, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring, Maintenance Series

If you have kids, dogs, a kitchen, or an active lifestyle, then you may have experience with how well high activity melds with flooring surfaces… NOT VERY!  However, don’t despair; there’s no need to wait patiently on those empty nest days to save your floor. With a few considerations, your floor can be well maintained for years to come.

If you’re building new or remodeling, there are so many options to consider when bamboo floor shopping.  Is bamboo flooring “green?” How hard is bamboo flooring? Is bamboo flooring sustainable? The most important question however may be: Which bamboo floor is right for me?  Honestly answering this question could save you lots of time and extend the useful life of your flooring choice.

Situation 1: The neighborhood coffee shop

The neighborhood coffee shop is pretty popular. There are several regular and new customers coming in and out daily. Since it’s a business, it’s unlikely they’ll leave their shoes at the door, so dirt and grit gets regularly tracked in.  The best flooring choice in this higher traffic situation would be a strand bamboo floor, such as PlybooStrand or Havana or Neopolitan.

Adding a PlybooFit or PlybooQuiet underlayment pad system could help absorb some of the impact of dropped items as well as the tired feeling from standing on a hard surface all day.  Instituting a regular cleaning schedule would be appropriate for this situation and will add life to the product and prevent additional scratching and indentation from hard debris left on the surface.

Situation 2: The Nuclear Family

Throw two hard-working adults, a kid or two and a dog and you’ve got one floor that had better deliver.  This is a situation ripe for a darker tone strand bamboo floor with great durability.

In the kitchen, simply putting a mat down by the oven and by the sink would spare these “drop zones” from the constant pummeling of dropped kitchenware. Also, putting a mat near the entrance would lesson the likelihood of scratching from accumulated debris from outdoors.

For families with an upstairs, installing a padded underlayment, like PlybooFit or PlybooQuiet will lessen the noise of tender feet over head.

Situation 3: The Quiet Couple

If there is only one or two adults living in a residence, without children, pets, or a constant barrage of guests, then most flooring choices will would be ideal. Limiting the use of shoes indoors and a regular cleaning regiment will help things stay looking good and performing well.

Of course, using the same precautions as the nuclear family, plan for the worst, hope for the best, for both the kitchen and entryways, is the best plan for your well loved and hard-working friend-under-foot, your floor.

Image: photostock /

Design Philadelphia

October 19, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring

There’s no better time to be in Philadelphia because for 10 days, the most thought provoking, useful, and innovative design will be on display at Design Philadelphia 2011 hosted across several local venues.  The event kicked off on Thursday, October 13th and will continue until Sunday, October 23rd.

Smith & Fong Co., the makers of Plyboo, along with EcoSupply and Fessenden Hall Inc. sponsored the talented design students of Philadelphia University earlier in 2011 with a challenge to build artwork, furnishings, or whatever they could imagine that highlighted the qualities of Plyboo’s bamboo plywood. An awards night was held by Fessenden Hall Inc.’s Center for Architecture on Saturday, October 15th for the participating sophomores.

The students work emphasized the grain and workability of the bamboo plywood products, particularly Plyboo’s edge grain orientation bamboo plywood.

Below are a few of the amazing completed products of the students who took up Fessenden Hall and Eco Supply’s Plyboo Design Challenge.

Here’s Marty Perkins standing next to his design.

Detail shot of Mr. Perkins’s Plyboo bamboo chair

“Oko” lamps by Christian Loos

This “PlybooBloom” chair was designed by Kubarius Kerner

The Rock-a-Boo Rocking Chair by Kristina Gaudio

Michael Shannon’s “Lotus Lamp”

“Apollo” folding screen by Steven Metzner

“Chi-eez” Lounge chair by Dante Porcelli

Christian Ost’s “Sunburst” lamp

Special thanks to:
Lyn Godly, Associate Professor, Industrial Design, Philadelphia University: School of Design and Engineering
Mark Havens, Associate Professor, Industrial Design, Philadelphia University: School of Design and Engineering
Michael J. Leonard, Interim Academic Dean, Philadelphia University: School of Design and Engineering
The Students in Spring 2011 Design II, Philadelphia University: School of Design
ECO Supply Center
Fessenden Hall Incorporated