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 /

How to Clean and Maintain Your Bamboo Floor

June 16, 2011 in Maintenance Series

In our last Maintenance Series, we discussed how to avoid cupping. One of the mentioned ways was to avoid wet mopping the floor, which of course leads to the question: How do I clean and maintain my bamboo floor?

First, if you have a prefinished floor, be sure to follow the maintenance instructions included with your installation and warranty paperwork. Be warned, if you do not follow the instructions to the letter, you risk voiding the manufacturer’s warranty! If you have an unfinished floor, follow the instructions from the floor finish manufacturer. If you don’t know whether or not the floor was purchased prefinshed or unfinished, or even who the manufacturer is, then keep reading. This article will outline several alternatives given a few general guidelines.

Nip it in the bud!
Spills on the floor, tracked in dirt, food debris – clean it up immediately! Dirt and debris on the floor can cause scratching. Regular sweeping or vacuuming is highly recommended. If there is a wet or sticky spill, wipe it up when it happens. Hard-to-remove spots can be removed with a damp (not wet) cloth and a little elbow grease. Of course, follow with a dry cloth if there’s any remaining moisture or with cleaning product. You can use a generic wood floor cleaner directly on the stain.

Bust the dust
Using a dust mop, dry Swiffer or a similar dry cloth product, can work wonders at keeping your floor in tip-top shape. If using a dust mop, use an untreated mop. Water-based or petroleum-based treated mops are never recommended. Don’t use spray dust cleaners. Spray cleaners can have incompatible chemicals or oils that can leave a film on your floor. Also, they tend to dull the sheen of the floor and even make recoating difficult if not impossible!

Leave it at the door
Using a mat at the door is a great way to keep from tracking dirt onto your floor. Also, check that the taps on your shoes and high heels are well maintained to avoid scratching or impressions on the floor.

Cover up
Have you been eyeing a fancy imported rug? Well consider protecting your floor a good reason to invest. Using area rugs, throws, and floor protectors on furniture prevent scratching and help protect your floor from surface damage.

Get a system
Find a non-harmful cleaning routine. As previously mentioned, wet mopping is not recommended. You should also avoid using ammonia and products with ammonia on it’s ingredients list. Sweeping, cleaning, and polishing, is a possibility. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Although this isn’t a direct endorsement, products by Bona tend to work well on Smith&Fong flooring. There are some natural products on the market, but check with your manufacturer first to see if it will work with their product. For example, some oil based cleaners work on wood, but are horrible on surfaces with a polyurethane finish. In lay-person’s language: ask first because flooring is not created equal and each can respond differently to the same product.

Recoat? Call in a pro
Your floor’s original shine will eventually fade, even with proper maintenance. This is natural and to be expected. You will need to recoat your floor periodically to revive it’s luster. It’s a good idea to call in a flooring professional to help with this.

Photo credit:
Image: Suat Eman /

Plyboo Maintenance Series: How to Prevent Cupping

May 23, 2011 in FAQ series, Maintenance Series

Illustration of a cupped floor. Cupping is the accurate description for this particular type of “warping.”

No one wants a “warped floor,” and with these easy-to-follow tips, your floor will stand the test of time.  Any upward facing warping or bowing of the material is best described in the flooring industry as cupping.  Let me tell you, it’s not a pleasant experience nor is it the sort of thing you’d want to happen to you.  We’ll definitely address several areas in this piece, but first, let’s start simply with:

1. What is cupping?

Image: healingdream /

Cupping is when wood, bamboo, or any other similar timber product takes on a curved shape.  This is most commonly caused by moisture.  The moisture can come from several sources.  Common sources of Moisture include:

  • Uncured concrete subfloors
  • Poor drainage
  • Concrete patch or leveler that hasn’t dried
  • Building leaks, leaks at doors or windows, and leaking appliances
  • Cleaning with water (i.e. wet-mopping)

Although the reason for cupping is moisture related, some floors can cup due to extremely dry conditions.  In this case, it’s helpful to know what’s going on with the relative humidity of your location. Anything under 20% is very dry and humidification is suggested in such conditions.

2. How to Prevent Cupping

Image: joannawnuk /

Try these tools and processes to stop cupping in its tracks:

  • The manufacturer’s installation information
  • Using moisture meters
  • Using moisture testing kits (Such as Calcium Chloride)
  • Administering a complete site inspection and review
  • Allowing all wet materials such as concrete, concrete patch, and concrete leveler to fully cure before installing
  • Reviewing maintenance procedures and avoiding wet mopping the floor
  • Installing the floor last on the project to avoid damage or exposure to water during construction

3. Repairing a Cupped Floor

Image: Patou /

So you’ve found this blog a little too late and want to know how to remedy the situation.  The advice taken from National Wood Flooring Association (NFWA) is to “never attempt to repair a cupped floor until all of the sources of excessive moisture have been [eliminated].”  You will need a moisture meter to perform readings on the subfloor under the affected bamboo, palm, or wooden floor.

If the wood isn’t permanently damaged, the flooring should eventually return to it’s original state.  Keep in mind, that this could take weeks or even months.  If the floor does not return to normal after an entire heating season, it is most likely permanently damaged.  You can sand off the cupped edges on the permanently deformed boards, but first check that they are completely dry.  Take a moisture reading on the flooring itself.  If you find there’s a gradient of 1% or more between the top and the bottom of the boards, they probably haven’t finished drying.

Illustration of a cupped floor after sanding prematurely.  This situation is called “crowning.” Always see that the floor is dry before attempting to sand off the edges.

Information taken from National Wood Flooring Association.