December 27, 2008


Two weeks ago a friend gave me an early Christmas present, a friendly honest contractor with a work ethic and time on his hands. I know. Sounds too good to be true, huh?

Well, so far, so good. He’s painting the entire interior of the house, ripping up my nasty beige acrylic wall-to-wall carpet, and installing a floor. He’s also done other helpful things like move the basement door to the other side so it opens *away* from the door-congested hallway, fixed the ventilation fan in the Cat Bathroom, and fixed my storm door so it actually latches – and when it doesn’t, the TWO plungers are strong enough to keep it from flapping open and banging into the porch light on the wall behind it. He’s also found bifold closet doors that actually match my existing doors.

Anyway, the latest Exciting Thing is that we ordered the flooring yesterday morning. I love the look of hardwood, but I don’t love the price. We tried some laminate flooring, but found out that it would require a seam every 20 ft in one direction and 40 ft in the other direction.

SO, I did what I do best, and investigated our alternatives. Bamboo. Yep, you know all those new-fangled cutting boards that are out now? Made out of laminated bamboo strips? Well they make floors out of that. The jury is out about how strong those “solid” planks are, however. Some accounts online claim that they are actually quite brittle.

I also found out about “strand woven” bamboo planks. This is a process where they compress the bamboo stalks with an adhesive and end up with a plank that’s 94-99% bamboo and the rest is phenolformaldehyde resin. Yes it outgasses a little, but it’s apparently well within the strict European compliance regulations for formaldehyde. Then they typically cover this with some kind of finish. Mine has an aluminum oxide finish.

I ordered samples of these and when they arrived “Bob” and I played with them.  (He prefers to be incognito, so I will call him “Bob.”)  I was able to make a slight dent in the “solid” plank with my thumbnail. The “strand woven” plank is unbelievably dense and seems almost impervious. This is consistent with the relative Janka ratings of the products.

“Bob” was more aggressive and tried banging the corner of each sample into the face of the other sample to see what happens when a lot of pressure is applied to a small point.

The “solid” corner itself smushed in,

and barely dented the “strand woven” plank.

The “strand woven” corner showed a little damage

and multilated the “solid” plank.
solid_face solid_dents

The supplier recommends either a glue-down or a nail-down application.  “Bob” convinced me that it would be even better to drill out and countersink screws so the planks can be attached through the luan and particle board directly to the joists. The supplier couldn’t say whether this was a good idea because they have never tested it, but admitted that as long as the screw hole in the plank is drilled out and not self-tapped, it should be fine. So “Bob” tried drilling the “strand woven” plank. Even with an old, dull bit it drilled out beautifully.

So we’re good to go, have ordered the 6ft planks, and they’re scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. We won’t actually get to start using them until the weekend because they have to sit in the rooms where they’re going to acclimate. He says he can’t wait to work with them. I can’t wait to see how it’ll look.

Update:  I brought the strand woven sample to show my friend Linda who has Newfies because she’s thinking of getting a bamboo floor to replace her nasty carpet.  We gave the sample to Pop to chew on for a while.  We also let him step on it.  This is the extent of the damage:


Basically, he managed to get through the aluminum oxide finish, but not into the plank itself.



  1. A good trust-worthy contractor? How awesome is that! So glad you have one after the last one. Cats must be freaking out over losing their designated barf areas.

    Comment by Kathie — December 29, 2008 @ 7:39 pm

  2. Well, Miaumoto sleeps most of the time and ever since we started with the “Sensitive Stomach” formula he has a lot fewer digestive problems.

    Sunny, on the other hand, just *adores* “Bob.” When he arrives in the morning Sunny runs over and bounces all around him like a large, furry flea. Apparently he follows him around all day, “helping.” I often come home to find new white streaks on him that he didn’t have before (the walls are being painted white). Last week “Bob” had other things he needed to do one day, and when I came home I found Sunny sitting glumly on the staircase looking sad, lonely, and bored.

    Comment by origamifreak — December 29, 2008 @ 9:51 pm

  3. How exciting! I love bamboo flooring! In fact, we’ve just about decided to replace the nasty wedgewood-blue carpet in the living room and dining room with bamboo – depending on the condition of the hardwood underneath.

    And no, I don’t know why anyone would cover hardwood with nasty wedgewood-blue carpet. But I don’t know why the prior owners did a lot of the stuff they did. 🙄

    Comment by Toy Lady — December 30, 2008 @ 8:11 am

  4. Well, so far, so good with this process. The supplier (Ambient Bamboo Products) has been very communicative, knowledgeable, and obliging. They’re also based in MD, so the shipping isn’t exorbitant. I’ll post pictures as the project continues.

    Comment by origamifreak — December 30, 2008 @ 9:34 am

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