Forum HomeCA-Modern ForumsHome Maintenance Hotline › Bamboo Installation

Bamboo Installation

16 replies [Last post]
ajm
Offline
Joined: Mar 24 2003

We've decided to go with Bamboo for our living room/dining room floor (Sunnyvale, 1961, with working radiant heat) and the salespeople over at one of the Eichler network flooring places suggested a couple of installation options:

1) Solid Bamboo glued down. The salesperson says to use "Bostic Best" glue which is suitable for use over radiant heat and provides a moisture barrier which reduces problems with moisture in the slab. This method seems to provide for the best thermal contact with the slab, and the lowest total additional height of the new floor.

2) Engineered bamboo with a floating installation. This method seems like the "easiest" installation method, but requires a vapor barrier which limits future leak detection (supposedly) and reduces thermal contact (by an unknown amount. The salesperson said we'd lose about "7 degrees of heat" which tells me that he really has no idea what will happen. )

Anyone have any conrete experience with bamboo installed with either method? Any experience with "Bostic Best" glue which would verify that it does or doesn't do what it's supposed to?

Thanks,
Andrew

Offline
Joined: Nov 20 2003

I just had about 1100 sf of engineered bamboo flooring floated on my working radiant - replacing carpeting, glued parquet and linoleum -and I couldn't be happier. I recently had the boiler replaced, with a pressure test at the same time so that I new I was leak free. I decided to float for easier installation and greater flexibility in the future. Notwithstanding the misinformation out there, the house is warm and the floor even feels warm in certain areas - which never happened with the carpeting.

Offline
Joined: Nov 26 2004

Interested in finding out what the total cost was for this install since we are entertaining the idea of utilizing bamboo. Please let me know:
- price
- if you can make a vendor recommendation

Offline
Joined: Jun 8 2003

We also had floating bamboo installed about 18 months ago and love it. It is very durable (we have two boys under 4) and the house is warmer than it was with the carpeting

Offline
Joined: Aug 30 2003

If you have a working radiant heat system that you wish to continue using, I would not put down any flooring that required a vapor barrier. It makes future radiant heat leaks much more difficult to detect (not impossible, but more difficult). Yes, in a perfect world your radiant will never leak. However, chances are that it will and you will want to repair it.

Think long term. Choose a different type of flooring.

Barry

1959 A. Quincy Jones atrium model in The Highlands, San Mateo http://www.totheweb.com/eichler

tom
Offline
Joined: Mar 23 2003

Barry what kind of flooring do you recommend in the bedroom since there will be moisture in floor

Offline
Joined: Aug 30 2003

Tom, my personal preference is polished concrete, that is what I plan to have throughout my house except for two front bedrooms that my wife uses as an office (they are joined together, we run our own business from our home).

An inexpensive and easy alternative for the bathroom is Armstrong VCT tile, which you could lay yourself after removing the old flooring and stripping the slab.

Barry

1959 A. Quincy Jones atrium model in The Highlands, San Mateo http://www.totheweb.com/eichler

ajm
Offline
Joined: Mar 24 2003

I've seen many posts regarding flooring over the years that claimed that a floating installation wood floor would quash the radiant heat with the insulating properties of the airspace, vapor barrier, and wood.

Yet when I talk to individuals who've actually installed such floors, they report warm floors and little impact on the radiant heat. Actual experience trumps speculative physics once again.

So in the interest of getting at the truth, has anyone who's installed a floating floor encountered subsequent difficulties with leak detection on their radiant heat system? I'd love to hear some actual experience. If there is a problem I'll go with the glue-down bamboo which should not impact leak detection.

-Andrew

Offline
Joined: Aug 30 2003

I did not state that a floating floor in an Eichler "quashed" the radiant heat. Of course the radiant system will warm the trapped air, hot air rises, the floating floor will warm up. But trapped air is an insulator and it will impede the heat flow and slow it down. This is not "speculative physics", it's real world thermodynamics. Those who have installed floating floors in their Eichlers report the radiant still works. Of course it does. But not as efficiently.

As to the vapor barrier, that is a serious issue when it comes time to track down a radiant leak. Copper radiant systems can be maintained indefinitely but sometimes leaks will occur (not always, but it is far from a rare occurrence). Leaks can be readily repaired if they are found. If you love your radiant, don't get flooring with a vapor barrier.

Barry

1959 A. Quincy Jones atrium model in The Highlands, San Mateo http://www.totheweb.com/eichler

ajm
Offline
Joined: Mar 24 2003

I wasn't referring to your post, which did not address the radiant heat efficiency issue at all. I was observing what has been asserted on this board (not necessarily by you), and what is observed in the real world, are often different.

I'm just trying to find out if anyone has actually dealt with the serious issue of leak detection on a floating floor and what the actual results were.

-Andrew

Ben
Offline
Joined: Aug 12 2004

bbrisco wrote:
....This is not "speculative physics", it's real world thermodynamics. Those who have installed floating floors in their Eichlers report the radiant still works. ....

If anyone really looks at the thermal dynamics of how the slab floor radiant heating works...

Heat moves towards the colder.

It moves via some medium. Conduction if solid material, mainly convection if gaseous material or vacuum. The denser the medium, the better the pathway. The less dense the poorer the pathway and will provide more resistance.

Unless the slab has an insulated layer between it and the dirt, the best path for the heat coming out of the copper pipes embedded in the slab will be towards mother earth...dirt.

The heat will find a better path towards the ground than heating the air above.

Toss in insulation materials and it will think the path to the ground that much better. A vapor barrier is a better insulator than wood. Wood is a better insulator than concrete.

As Barry said, not to say it doesn't heat...it does heat the air inside, but more of that heat is going down into the ground than to heat the above air.

Offline
Joined: Jan 4 2004

Actually, according to an energy consultant (the person who writes title 24
reports that are calcuated for submittal for building review) a vapor barrier actually impedes heat loss. Here is how:
When ever moisture enters the air in the form of vapor, the vapor is usually much colder than gas (air). It causes the oxygen, nitrogen, and other components of the atmosphere to cool. Think of the marine layer of fog (vapor) that keeps us near the coast cooler during summer weather patterns. Another common practical example is a "swamp" or evaporative cooler.
As the radiant heat warms up the slab (unless you are in new living space that contractors such as myself have built, in which new zones were added to the slab, a vapor barrier is required in between the dirt and the bottom of the sand layer below the slab foundation for this very reason).
Moisture in the dirt leaches up through cracks (and the slab itself), creating humid air, which requires more energy to cool (consider also the amout of cubic feet in a house).
Part of the calculation in a title 24 report includes evaluation in terms of what was existing before any improvements occurred (absence of insulation, dual glazed low e windows ventilation, efficiency of heating appliances, etc.) and after (they give you sort of "points", that you start with and gain and lose depending on the nature of your improvement i.e. more glass facing certain direction= less points adding insulation =more points, and then you must reach a certain standard set statewide).

Eichlers have a lot of room for improvement in terms of energy efficiency.

It always strikes me as amusing when people continue on a silly thread about how floating wood floors have any impact on a hydronic floor system, in a house in which about 20%-30% of its' exterior walls are constructed of glass, there is little insulation in the roof (the highest area of heat loss in a structure) and walls, along with a number of inefficient designs (purely from a conservation standpoint).
It sort of similiar one complaining about losing a $20 bill after thowing $500 into the fire place.
Carpet padding is far better insulation than 1/2" bamboo flooring, and, comparatively, it has very little impact on the efficiency of the entire system.
A far as leak detection goes, you want to strip the floor down to the slab and send the guy with the hydrogen sniffer before any flooring is installed. If a major problem mainfests in the next decade, detection is possible, but difficult. (I have heard all the complaints from a few radiant guys personally. Often, tradespersons will "steer" the design of a home to which best suits them, and seem to forget that the owners' preference in finishes should be the primary consideration, and provide objective, honest advice based on research, experience and logic, not on what best suits their agenda. This practice never ceases to annoy me.) The nice thing about floating floors, is that they are fairly easy to repair. It is, however, extremely important to order at least a couple of extra boxes of the material, and store wrapped up it safely away from sun and moisture. This will ensure that you have some on hand in case down the road, repairs are necessary and the product is no longer available (easy to maintain).
Also, many floating bamboo floors have thick enough veneers of finish material to be re-finished once or twice if needed, so the product can last for decades (durable).
Floating floors are cushioned as well, causing less impact than other hard surfaces, such as tile, concrete, VCT, linoleum, or glue-down wood products (comfortable).
If cost is at all of concern to you, there are decent bamboo products available for $4-$7 a square foot, some of which are of the "quick-click" construction-type, which a do-it-yourselfer, some carpentry skill, and a chop saw can install in a few days (installation runs generally $3-$5 a foot professionally installed), Compare to tile $10 a foot and up, concrete $8 a foot and up, plus sealing and polishing (better value).

My personal favorite virtue of bamboo flooring is that it is a green product; that is, it is a renewable resource. It is harvested every 5-10 years or less. BBrisco, this point alone is truly the best example of really thinking long-term. :wink:

renman

Offline
Joined: Aug 30 2003

Renman, the amount of moisture that is drawn up through cracks in the slab is unlikely to be significant compared to the amount of moisture created inside the house by the inhabitants as they breath, shower, wash and dry clothes, and cook (assuming that the homeowner has properly channeled the roof downspout water well away from the slab!). Those human activities are what load up the interior air with water vapor.

Of course it would be ideal if the underside of the slab was sealed against moisture. In fact Eichler attempted to do that with a fabric layer but it didn't last long and is now totally useless.

Also, it is clear that the single biggest way Eichlers lose heat from the interior to the exterior is through all that lovely floor-to-ceiling glass. After that, the tar & gravel roof, then the walls (which may not have any original insulation in them at all in many Eichlers, it was an added-cost option!). However, it makes absolutely no economic sense to spend tens of thousands of dollars replacing original single pane glass (R-1) with double pane (R-3). You would have to live for a few centuries to recoup that cost in lowered heating bills. Sure, do it if you have the money (and enjoy some increased comfort and lower interior noise levels), but don't expect it to pay for itself.

The fact remains that a sub-floor vapor barrier is going to make radiant leak detection MUCH more difficult. I would never do it. The negatives far outweigh the positives.

Yes, obviously carpet paddding is a bad thing in Eichlers because it impeded heat flow, as does carpeting. Personally, I am going to rip out all th carpet and padding a previous owner installed and go with polished concrete floors. Absolutely the best thing for radiant heat, and it's a LONG TERM solution that is also eco-friendly: no trees or vegetation of any kind is cut to create the flooring.

In a perfect world, we could easily install a modern, high-efficiency, radiant heating system in our Eichlers and abandon the inefficient design that was originally used (but which was pretty good for the time). However installing a new radiant system is a HUGE undertaking and is impractical for most Eichler homeowners. So we have to live with what we've got. Bare concrete flooring, a well-insulated foam roof, modern R-13 fiberglass insulation in the exterior walls, and a modern high-efficiency boiler are the most cost-effective measures you can take in your Eichler to reduce your heating bills and stay toasty in the winter.

Barry Brisco

1959 A. Quincy Jones atrium model in The Highlands, San Mateo http://www.totheweb.com/eichler

Offline
Joined: Nov 26 2004

We have decided to replace the flooring in our Eichler with floating Bamboo in the main areas and carpeting in the bedrooms and we have two questions that we are seeking advice on:

1) Removal of Old Flooring - the existing flooring is a thick carpet over a very thin original vinyl/tile material. The vinyl/tile appears to have been glued to the floor. While I know the ideal situation would be to install the new flooring over the bare slab, we have been told by a few flooring folks that removing the original vinyl/tile material would have a neglible impact on the effectiveness of the radiant heat system AND it could be a laborious/expensive job since apparently the glue in the original tiles often had asbestos. With that said our first question is whether or not we should heed their advice and float the floor over the original thin vinyl/tile OR if we should go thru the time/expense of removing it before installing new flooring.

2) Underflooring Suggestions - With the floating bamboo floor, we were encouraged to use a product called Tuplex. See: http://www.snt-group.net/tuplex/usa/ominai.htm . Does anyone have any experience with Tuplex underflooring in their Eichler? What type of underflooring would you suggest under the floating bamboo floor? Also, what type of underflooring would you suggest underneath the carpeting?

Thanks in advance for your advise.

Offline
Joined: Mar 20 2003

I recently walked through the NOW House, on display in the parking lot of SBC stadium in SF. It had floating bamboo flooring and it felt quite "cheap" walking on it.

When you walk on hardwood floors, you expect a certain firm, solid feeling. You don't get that with a floating floor. Like most laminate and floating floors, it felt "temporary" and flimsy.

I also don't find bamboo flooring attractive and fitting for an Eichler interior, clashing with the redwood ceiling and mahogany paneled walls. I think concrete, VCT, or a commercial ceramic tile makes the most sense financially and design-wise.

As history has proven, trendy remodeling options usually are not the best thing for an Eichler.

Joined: Mar 2 2004

It's normal to want to rid your home of asbestos. Get reliable advice first. Encapsulating asbestos will expose your family to little or no asbestos. The very cleanest and best removal job will expose you to a lot. Disturbing the asbestos laden material puts so much in the air, it is unlikely you will escape it.

Radiant heat takes a long time to work using a small temperature difference between the concrete slab and interior air. When carpet (or flooring) slows this process, the covered concrete may get a little warmer. I doubt this warmth escapes outside the home, since radiant pipes don't go near the perimeter. Some enterprising Eichler owner could put a thermometer under the carpet and compare slab temperatures. My guess is about 10 degrees.

Besides, Jarom Feriante in our office says that dirt under the slab is not a bad insulator. Maybe I can get him to post a good explanation. He studied stuff like this getting his MS in Construction Engineering at the Farm...meaning, he didn't figure this out himself, but was told by someone that really knows.

I have really admired the bamboo floors that I have seen. I have walked several of them with shoes and with socks. They felt smooth and seemed to have a very hard, durable surface. I have traditional oak hardwood floors at home. I'm beginning to think EVERYTHING looks and feels cheap to joe b, and am having serious reservations about inviting him to Christmas dinner.

Offline
Joined: Mar 20 2003

that's OK, Randy at Dura-Foam, I already have plans.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.