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 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Make Bamboo Walls with Plyboo Plywood

September 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

You’ve seen them in magazines like Dwell, Architectural Record, and Sunset. They’re green, they’re beautiful and, let’s face it, they’re sexy. Bamboo walls are undeniably modern and easily adaptable to virtually any residential or commercial space.  The best part is that you can replicate these looks with ease. Look no further than a sheet of Smith & Fong’s Plyboo bamboo plywood.

Look no further than a sheet of Plyboo’s bamboo plywood.  Plyboo clearly has you covered for bamboo flooring, but with a little artistic vision and a conversation with your fabricator, you’ll soon find yourself teleported into the design major league.

Smooth and Simple

Bamboo plywood can be used like any other decorative plywood panel.  Frequently, bamboo plywood is installed with clips.  Z clips as they are known are part of an integrated clip and grid system that is fasten to the existing structural wall.   Believe it or not, we use this system frequently at our trade shows. It’s easy to install, set up and take down, and is sturdy enough for a permanent installation as well.

Using the clip system can really save time and cost on an installation, however, if you find that you’re not quite so skilled with home improvements, there are wall systems professionals that can help with large or small renovations.  Just do a Google or Bing search for “wall systems installers” and contact with them locally.

 

Did you know that there’s a service that specializes in installing wall systems only?  Run a search on Google, Bing, or any search engine platform and you’ll be presented with several companies that can assist you with your wall installation.  They’ll know exactly what to do if you explain what you’re after, so if in doubt, always keep this as an option.

The beauty of using Plyboo to make bamboo walls is the ease of use.  Of course there are more dimensional options that the materials can be applied.  These options, however are not as simple and most likely will involve the help of a professional.

The photo above shows the bamboo walls curved to give the appearance of fluidity, like a river flowing.

It does help to have some ideas in mind.  For instance, if you live in a small space, perhaps sliding walls to add a bit of privacy or to give a feeling of spaciousness.  In the photo below, this store built out their walls to show off their products.  The walls act as shelving — a very realistic and simple option depending on your needs.

 The walls are build out to artfully display the products in this store.

High Definition Wall Panels

There are, of course, other options for wall coverings using Smith and Fong products. The answer is tambour. For those who are not familiar with the term tambour, it is used to describe a flexible paneling product. How does it work? Tambour can be any material, wood, plastic, even glass cut into thin strips and laminated to a fabric backing. There is a small reveal at the width of each strip allowing the material to form and shape to almost any surface. Tambour paneling made of bamboo or palm can be shaped around a convex, concave, circular or flat surface with great ease making it a great friend of the do-it-yourselfer.

The image above uses bamboo tambour paneling. This installation retains warmth and is very inviting.

Bamboo Alternatives

So you’ve decided to re-design the wall surfaces in your living space and you are looking for something that says “you” in a truly original way. Durapalm paneling options might just be what you are looking for.  Durapalm panels come in a tambour option as well as two other really unique and user-friendly designs. These are the palm Woven and Deco palm designs. The Woven look evokes the sense of a basket weave pattern with its undulating overlap design. The feeling is both calm and soothing. The Deco pattern on the other hand, breaks this all up with a random multi-depth surface that is modern, unpredictable and highly energized. The Deco is truly a one of a kind look and feel.

Make It Yours

Whether you’re just look for a great texture and material to surface your walls with, or if you are looking for utility and function, the DIY or professional should find the range and variety of wall solutions available.

Interview with Kari Whitman

August 5, 2011 in Interview

Smith & Fong Co. did an exclusive interview with celebrity interior designer, Kari Whitman. In the interview, she outlines tips, tricks, and inspiration to incorporate her design aesthetic into you daily life.  To learn more about Kari, visit her website at: www.kariwhitmaninteriors.com.

Smith & Fong Co.: I read that you were an early adapter to environmentally focused interior design. What got you interested in this? When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

Kari Whitman: I’m from Bolder Colorado, a Tree Hugger Hippie, there’s no other way to be. I’ve never NOT been green. To recycle and reuse, even for a modern sleek home, I find pieces to redo, mix old with new, to find more personality in diversity. Older products are typically made with better ethics and better quality materials. I bring things down to the wood frame and re cover them.

SF: I first became acquainted with your work after seeing what you did with the home of Jessica Alba. Was she initially interested in green design or is it something you were able to explore together?

KW: She hired me because of my green knowledge. She understands sustainability and she will do everything she can to be non toxic. Jessica knows the value of creating a healthy home and worked with me to promote her standards through a designer’s aesthetic.

SF: What were the aims in the Alba home? Indoor Air Quality? Using rapidly renewable materials. What were the two of you going after when you collaborated on her home?

KW: Mold testing is a standard for about 65% of the homes, especially for a baby’s room. There are many issues about vocs (volatile organic compounds). So everything down to cleaning supplies was an issue. No quick fixes using chemicals. For maintenance, we used a combination of hemp oil, vegetable oil, and a splash of tea tree — wipe and clean everything, even on wood floors, they look great.

SF: I read in an interview not too long ago where you mentioned our Durapalm product (thanks by the way!) What drew you to it initially and what made you feel it was a product worthy of recommending by name?

KW: Plyboo is easy to work with as a company, has the most variation with different dimensions, and a large variety of products. I’m obsessed with Durapalm and it’s many ways of being used, along with coconut palm products having so many textures and tones. I love all the different grains. It is a sleek, yet gives an organic feel, but it can also look modern. Because it has a sleek look, I love to add metals to create a balance and harmony.

SF: Which projects did you use our products in? Do any come to mind? I am currently working on an estate, in Texas. We are creating furniture pieces with Plyboo, and possibly incorporating flooring. We might even use some of the materials to create an indoor and an outdoor look. In Aspen, with Tony Banderas’ house, I am using Plyboo to modernize a very rustic cabin to have a better balanced feeling.

KW: What challenges do you face when suggesting ecologically friendly building materials to homeowners? Challenges with manufacturers are finding those who are actually green and meet high sustainable standards. I want to use smaller companies, who are passionate. I do a background check to make certain they live up to what they say. Also getting a client to understand that green products can be sleek and modern.

SF: I see that you have a pretty large influence in green design, and you’re covered quite heavily in popular magazines. What advice would you have for a homeowner interested in making more environmentally sound design decisions — improving indoor air quality for instance? What advice do you have for renters?

KW: Find pieces of furniture, which are timeless. Also refurbish, reuse and give another life to a product. Take a chair and gut it. Perhaps use a beautiful royal blue fabric with cream piping. You can after five years take that same chair and use a silver grey fabric with nail heads and create an entirely different look. There are fantastic green no voc paints. I like AFM Safecoat. Take a few of their vibrant colors, add some lighting at lamps plus (a store known for green products, kooky and funky with a bit of hollywood glam). Find a few pieces of lighting, add some timeless pieces of furniture, use a Plyboo woven palm panel in a key place, and you have great design. It does not have to put you into debt to make your space sleek and well designed.

SF: Which eco-focused media do you follow? Any blogs in particular?

KW: I read the Bolder Magazine, Bolder Daily Camera, my home town is so profound they seem to be one step in front of everyone else. They even started their own sustainable place, Boulder Sustainability Network. CU has an education center which is tremendous. Dwell is great for ideas. Also Solar Row, reading from my roots, listen to lectures from CU sustainability project.

SF: Do you feel it’s difficult to transition into running a sustainable household?

KW: Not at all. Once you take steps, starting with cleaning solutions, fabrics, carpets — they all add up to a better organic aesthetic. You can feel the healthy environment. it becomes evident!

SF: I noticed that you’ve also done commercial design, and even have extended your brand to designing pet spaces. Is there any one area you feel people should really reconsider impact on their immediate environment when making their design to-do lists?

KW: Design with Paws in Mind, my book, is in the works. Pets and children, should use durable, non-toxic products. Chemicals and petroleum based products interact with pets and kids. I recommend when working with Don Henley when they were expecting their child, to look at all household cleaners. We also made certain that no carpet or other materials on the floors were going to be toxic. As we researched chemicals used in carpet I became more ware of how unhealthy carpet can be with all the added chemicals for stain resistance and simple binders they use for backing. Kids and pets are so interactive with materials that we focused on natural organic flooring and coverings. Also, take a look at Greener Pup Dog Beds. Remember use natural products, meaning few chemically developed fragrances and harsh solutions. The more simple it is the better.

SF: What would you like to see happen with the future of interior design?

KW: I’d like to see mandatory laws to really guide. I’d also like for sustainability not be a trend but a reality, from fad to a way of life. We should figure out a way for really green companies to be noticed and validated and be successful.

The views expressed are those of the interviewee and may not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Smith & Fong Co.

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 sales@plyboo.com.

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 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 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net