How to Build Bamboo Stairs

June 24, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring Trim and Accessories Tutorial

If you do a Wikipedia search on stairs, you’ll get all kinds of information. Things like an escalator and even a ladder are types of stairs or that stairs are constructed in practically every conceivable way.  Of course, our concern today isn’t about the history of stairs or their philosophical contexts, but how to complete the look of your palm or bamboo floor between floors.

Useful Facts about Stair Contruction

The stairs pictured here have both treads and risers made out of Neopolitan.

Stairs are constructed of a series of steps. Steps consist of a tread and a riser. The tread is the portion of the stair that you stand and walk on. The riser is what makes ascending possible and is the vertical portion of the stair. Sometimes these are left out like in the photo below. Typically, though, in single family homes they are used.

These stairs do not have risers, so they’re considered to be a floating staircase. Floating staircases are usually supported by one or more stringers, which structurally support the treads (and risers when used).

Giving your stairway the Plyboo Touch

Now that you’re armed with knowledge about what makes a stair step, let’s apply that knowledge to continuing the look and feel of your Plyboo or Durapalm floor on the stairway.  There are several options to build a stairway that’s right for your needs.  The first option is to custom build the stair out of palm or bamboo plywood.

Although the most expensive option, it offers complete versatility as you can build the step into whatever you desire. Floating stairways, spirals, any option that there’s a full view stairway can utilize this method.  Work with a professional to design the stairway of your choice.  This way you have full control over the look and feel of the tread, the visual effect and thickness of the whole step, and complete design freedom of what your step will look like.

Smith&Fong Co. offers both bamboo plywood and palm plywood in addition to flooring.  Contact our main office to find your local distributor if you’d like to know how to customize your staircase.

A second, albeit, more common and less expensive option, is to buy a stair step to meet the riser.  Stair steps are yet another solution to completing the look and feel of your flooring choice up the stairway.  They’re simple to install and they have the rounded nose that extends beyond the tread in one easy piece.  Just purchase as many as you have steps and install.

The third and least expensive option is to use stair nosing with any additional flooring you may have ordered.  Smith&Fong Co.’s stair nosing is different from its stair steps.  While both extend beyond the rising, the stair nosing is an economical solution to offer the continuity of a flooring look. You merely lay the flooring down as your tread and clip the nosing piece onto the tongue of the palm or bamboo flooring.

Stair nosing is implemented for both aesthetic and practical reasons. It extends beyond the tread and rounds off the edge of the step finishing it off and giving a traditional (or in the case of Neopolitan non-traditional), yet polished look. The photo below uses Durapalm flooring and stair nosing to finish off the steps. It makes the tread extend beyond the riser beneath much like the stair step.

As you can see, there are many possibilities with bamboo and with palm as a building material.  Each offers a great deal of versatility and  there is a solution for every price range. If you’d like to know more ways to use bamboo, feel free to contact us at

Photo credits in order of appearance: Patrick J. Killen, Margot Harford (Courtesy of Hershon Hartley), Kotaro Mick Miyake (Courtesy of Boora Architects) , and Benny Chan

How to Use a Bamboo Threshold

June 14, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring Trim and Accessories Tutorial, Uncategorized

So you have finished installing your floor in multiple rooms and now you are looking at the transition between doorways. Not all doorway passages need or require a trim treatment, but when they do you are looking for a threshold molding. These come in two types: a standard threshold and an overlap threshold.

An attractive shot of a standard threshold in Amber Flat Grain

The standard threshold molding is flat on top and tapers on both sides down to the level of your floor. This is designed to fill the gap between the bottom of your door and the surface of the floor.

Palm Standard Threshold

Other advantages of the threshold are to keep the drafty air from coming in under your door, provide a little debris protection from the other side and if installed with caulking underneath the molding, can provide a bit of flood control, say from a bathroom or kitchen area.

An overlap threshold though sharing a name is really a very different type of molding from the traditional standard threshold molding. This product is designed to butt cleanly to a sliding glass door track that can then also receive a caulking treatment to avoid both moisture and debris from collecting between the aluminum track and the installed flooring.

Overlap Threshold, Amber Edge Grain

The overlap threshold also allows for the concealment of the expansion gap that is required around the perimeter of every room.

This is how it works. The overlap threshold at the square nose end is slightly taller than the flooring itself. It is then cut back on the other side to allow the flooring to slide underneath it with the “overlap” coming over and on top of the flooring.

How is it installed? The overlap threshold nose end is squared off to butt to the aluminum framing of the sliding glass door. The flooring is installed to leave both a space for the overlap threshold to drop into as well as leaving room for the required expansion gap between the flooring and the wall. The overlap then coming up over and on top of the flooring, the gap is concealed and the finish is complete.

Smith & Fong Co. offers both types of thresholds, the standard threshold and the overlap threshold.

How to Use a Bamboo Reducer

June 10, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring Trim and Accessories Tutorial

Congratulations! You’ve installed your new Plyboo bamboo floor.  But how will you transition between the vinyl floor in the kitchen and the bamboo floor in your dining room?

With a reducer!

A reducer offers a clean transition to a different type of flooring.  A standard reducer, which is sometimes called a flush reducer or a one sided reducer, is usually used to transition the floor to ceramic, some other type of tile, or ceramic floor. Occasional cosmetic uses, however, can include improving the look of a floor that would but into a fireplace or like fixture.

Pictured above, Durapalm reducer in coconut palm.

In addition to standard reducers, Smith&Fong Co. offers several other types of trim to suit your needs. For example, if the floor needs to transition to a lower floor, try our overlap threshold.

Why Install a Bamboo Baseboard

May 31, 2011 in Bamboo Flooring Trim and Accessories Tutorial, Uncategorized

You’ve done heaps of research on the merits of bamboo floors, and now it’s time to install. Of course, there are always things that haven’t been accounted for… things like flooring accessories, or simply, trim.

Why do you need trim?
Trim can be used to give a decorative element, protect the walls, cover the expansion gap between the floor and the wall, or to add a finishing touch to your intended flooring look. Some types of Trim offered at Smith&Fong Co. include: stair nosing, reducers, t-molding, baseboards, base shoes, thresholds, and stair steps.

This post is focused on the baseboard.  Baseboards are an easy way to add an expressive touch to any room in addition to its utilitarian uses.  Baseboards are know by several names such as, skirting boards, skirting, mopboards, floor moulding, or base moulding.  It’s generally used to cover the perimeter between the floor and the wall.  However, it also protects the wall from kicks, damage from furniture, and abrasion.

Pictured above: Plyboo’s Edge Grain Baseboard

As previously mentioned, using a baseboard covers the expansion gap between the floor and the wall.  If you’re installing the floor yourself, be mindful not to install the floor directly against the wall.  You’ll need an expansion gap for the floor to expand or your flooring may suffer “buckling,” when the planks lift upwards from the floor because there is no room to expand.  Buckling will be addressed later in our Maintenance Series.

Illustration of a baseboard covering the expansion gap.

Smith&Fong Co. offers baseboards for its Plyboo and Durapalm products.  To learn more, visit PlybooDirect.