What installation method is recommended for strand bamboo? What are the pros/cons of each option?

Asked by Tasha Pruess
Somerset, NJ

We are considering installing Morning Star 5/8" x 3-3/4" Strand Natural Bamboo and need some feedback regarding the best installation method - glue, nail or floating? Also, how would this type of flooring be installed on a set of stairs? Is it typical to cover the whole stair or only the step? Thanks!!!


Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Bainbridge Island, WA

A Kitchen That Works LLC

February 8, 2012


Your question is more of a DIY remodeling question rather than the type of question we generally answer here at the Green Home Guide. We typically offer information on the environmental attributes of building materials and/or design principles.

Since it sounds like you're still deciding on which bamboo flooring product to purchase, I will address the environmental qualities of strand bamboo to help you choose a good floor. Not all bamboo products are created equal!

Here are some points to consider when choosing bamboo flooring:

  • When selecting bamboo products you want to make sure that you are getting quality and as such you will want to focus your purchases on bamboo products derived from Moso bamboo. Reputable companies will state on the their website the species of bamboo used in their products. 
  • Has the product earned any third party certifications? In the flooring industry the certifications to look for are: 1) Floor Score, 2) Scientific Certification System's Indoor Advantage Gold, or 3) Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). While researching your question, I noticed that one manufacturer of bamboo products has a brochure printed on FSC certified paper but the way it was presented was very misleading making the casual reader believe that the company’s product was actually FSC certified. (This is referred to as green washing).
  • What are the harvesting practices of the manufacturer – are pesticides used? Is child labor used? Is the bamboo harvested prior to full maturity? Moso typically matures at 6 years. 
  • Do the adhesives used in the production of the bamboo planks have added formaldehyde? If considering pre-finished bamboo, is the applied finish low in volatile organic compounds? Is it water based and solvent free? You might want to consider using a sand in place product so that you can control what finish is used.
  • When considering engineered flooring consider the thickness of the wear layer. Compare the thickness of the “decorative” wear layer between different manufacturers. The thicker the wear layer the longer the life of the floor. Additionally, factory finished product is typically beveled, so consider is this is a look you like and the fact that the beveling makes refinishing difficult because it is challenging to get a sander into the grooves.

If you want to apply the bamboo stair treads you will want check for availability for complimentary product – not all manufacturers offer stair treads, nosing, base board, etc.

Lastly, I would recommend that you do an internet search for reviews of a variety of bamboo products before you purchase.

Good luck!

Tagged In: bamboo flooring

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