Bamboo Floor Warranty
Based on Bamboo Flooring Industry Standard for Australian Timber Flooring Association (ATFA), we ensure original purchaser 25-year structural limited and pre-finished limited warranty. All warranty conditions and claimers should comply with the guideline of ATFA as follow.
1.1 Colour variation
Bamboo flooring is subject to some natural colour variations within the species and when tinted, product is manufactured there can have small differences in the toning, to some degree between boards and between different production runs. Purchasers need to be fully aware that natural colour variations and those resulting from tinted coatings will occur and that there may be small differences in the packs supplied, particularly so if not manufactured at the same time. For this reason we suggest that boards from different packs need to be blended into the floor during installation. The customer needs to be fully aware and accepting that colour variation occurs. If there are significant concerns regarding the supply of the flooring it must be raised with the supplier prior to laying. Normal colourations between boards do not provide grounds for replacement and any concerns need to be raised before work commences.
Hardness of flooring in Australia is measured using the Janka test. This is not directly related to how hard or easy the bamboo is to work on with various tools, but is a measure of the resistance of the product to indentation. The Janka hardness for strand woven it is about 14.5. As such the strand woven product is much harder. In terms of the general categories used with timber flooring, the strand woven product as very hard. It should be noted that even ‘hard’ bamboo and timber flooring products will indent with ‘stiletto heel’ type loading. As such some care with footwear is still required.
Like all floor coverings, factory coated bamboo floors will show signs of wear over time depending on the amount of use the floor receives. Some coating systems with additives such as aluminum oxide provide a very tough coating system which can be expected to take longer to show signs of wear. If floors are site sanded and coated then wear relates to the products used to coat the floor.
Implementing a regular cleaning and maintenance program will ensure the floor remains in the best condition possible. Note that coating and surface finish warranties can be quite specific in what they cover and can exclude high wear areas. The warranty is more to cover a problem with the manufacture or initial application of the factory coating rather than aspects relating to normal wear in the floor.
1.4Product moisture content and the effect of humidity
Like timber, bamboo is hygroscopic. This means that bamboo flooring will absorb moisture from the air under high humidity conditions and under low humidity conditions it will release moisture back into the air. When this occurs in natural products such as bamboo and timber there is an increase in board width with moisture uptake and a decrease with moisture loss. This highlights the need to accommodate this movement with expansion allowance at installation.
The coatings used in prefinished bamboo flooring will also influence and slow, to varying degrees depending on the coating system, moisture movement in and out of the product. The strand woven product is manufactured under high pressure and temperature and, with greater use of adhesives, is of much higher density. It has been found that with strand woven bamboo there is a wider range of manufacturing moisture content with some flooring manufactured at lower levels of 6% to 8% moisture content, while other flooring may be manufactured at about 9% to 11%. Both these ranges fall within the Chinese quality standard for the manufacture of bamboo flooring (GB/T 20240-2006) which indicates a range from 6% to 14%.
However, it is important to note that strand woven bamboo is NOT timber and therefore direct comparison of suitable moisture contents should not be made.
1.5Equilibrium moisture content
The equilibrium moisture content (EMC) is the moisture content that hygroscopic products such as bamboo, solid timber and even concrete attain under specific conditions of relative humidity (RH) and temperature. Solid timber flooring in conditions of 20ºC and 60% RH will attain moisture content of about 11% whereas under these same conditions concrete will attain a moisture content of about 1.8%. Bamboo, and particularly strand woven bamboo, is different from either solid timber or concrete. It is considered that with strand woven bamboo its moisture content sits about 2% to 3% below that of solid timber. Hence with strand woven bamboo, where conditions inside
a dwelling may average about 20ºC and 60% relative humidity (RH) strand woven bamboo is 8% to 9% moisture content. In effect this means that if strand woven bamboo is 8% to 9% moisture content in these conditions then its moisture content will not change if the temperature remains at 20ºC and relative humidity at 60%. As such if there is no moisture content change then there is no expansion or shrinkage movement of the boards.
1.6 Board expansion with moisture content change
There are three aspects that need to be considered here. Firstly, the rate at which bamboo products absorb moisture, secondly the actual expansion relating to the increase in moisture content and thirdly the extra restraint provided by adhesive fixing compared to floated installations. Although formal research has not been undertaken to date, observations and industry testing indicate that the rate of moisture uptake: strand woven products the width movement is also generally less than that of high or medium density hardwood timbers. When floors are floated movement through board expansion is greater than with direct adhesive fixed floors. For this reason greater allowance to accommodate this movement through intermediate expansion allowance, expansion joints across doorways, as well as expansion beneath skirting is required for floating installations.
1.7Moisture transfer through strand woven bamboo flooring
The transfer of moisture into and through strand woven bamboo flooring is governed by three factors: the initial moisture content of the product, differences in the upper and lower surface coatings and the moisture that is available to be absorbed. The hygroscopic nature of the product indicates that when the bamboo flooring has been appropriately dried and accustomed to the conditions within a dwelling it will still absorb moisture from the air during times of high humidity and during times of low humidity it will lose moisture to the air. As such with these changes in moisture content the bamboo flooring will swell, mainly in board width, with increased humidity and shrink with reduced humidity. Similarly if bamboo flooring is in contact with a surface that is damper than the bamboo it will also absorb moisture from that surface. It is therefore not only the moisture content of the product in relation to air humidity that can cause a change in moisture content but also that the product can absorb moisture (or release it), depending on the relative dampness of the two surfaces.
It is also clear that the initial moisture content of the product will influence whether the flooring is prone to taking up moisture after installation. As indicated some bamboo flooring is manufactured and laid at moisture contents between 6% and 8% where its in-service or EMC moisture content is likely to be between 8% and 10%, depending on the humidity in the locality and noting that it could also be a few percent higher in the tropics and other more humid locations. Therefore this lower moisture content flooring will be more prone to moisture uptake and expansion after installation than flooring that is manufactured and installed at 9% to 11%. Low moisture content flooring will also be more prone to absorbing moisture from moister surfaces over which it may be laid. Note that with reference to a concrete slab at, for example, 3.5% moisture content is more moist than bamboo flooring at 7% moisture content and the slab can be expected to transfer moisture to the bamboo flooring, unless a suitable moisture vapour retarding barrier is used. However, if the bamboo was higher in moisture content at say 10% when manufactured and installed, then transfer from the slab would not be significant. Therefore when we are considering the transfer of moisture between different products or with the air, moisture content figures between products are not directly comparable and it must be taken into account which is actually drier. The EMCs associated with the different products needs to be taken into consideration. If we now consider the coated surfaces of the bamboo it is evident that many of the products come prefinished with a multi-coat UV cured system on the exposed face of the board whereas on the edges and underside of the boards there is often only a single coat of polyurethane. Industry studies have indicated that the moisture transfer rates through upper and lower board surfaces can differ, in that the surface coating to the upper exposed face of the board is often much less moisture permeable than the coating on the lower surface of the board. Significantly less cupping occurred with the upper board face on the damp cloth when compared to the lower face on the damp cloth. This does however vary between products as individual coating types will differ. In some products the effects from this test are more even.
Consequently, with strand woven bamboo flooring, the control of moisture movement into the product needs careful consideration. This is particularly so in more humid environments and where conditions beneath the floor can allow moisture from a moister subfloor to transfer into the drier bamboo floor above. As a result of this and likely pressure effects in floors, a cupped appearance can result. Slabs and subfloors may be considered ‘dry’ and suitably dry for other flooring products however if moister than the bamboo flooring above, the floor’s appearance and at times performance can be affected. It should be noted that when a bamboo floor is laid with moist conditions beneath, then conditions can over time become more severe due to the very low permeability of the product. As such there can be a buildup of moisture beneath and in the lower section of the product over time.
In addition it should be noted that a cupped appearance is not always associated with high moisture meter readings in the floor and in such instances it must be considered that pressure effects can also show as a cupped appearance known as peaking, generally with flooring of lower moisture content rising in moisture content to reach the EMC of the installation environment. In other instances there is also likely to be a combination of these two effects. Peaking is the result of expansion pressure being resisted by only the upper shoulders of the board and can be more pronounced when the undercut is greater.
1.7 Installation methods and performance of bamboo floors over different subfloors
Much of the flooring, strand woven is laid as a floating floor and, provided the installation includes an appropriate moisture vapour retarder either separate to or included as part of the underlay and that recognized installation practices are used, then there have been few marketplace concerns. Some care is required in more humid localities as floorboard expansion can be greater than anticipated. With the likes of
hallways at right angles to each other, the floor can be skewed and cause boards to move from beneath skirting giving the appearance of shrinkage in length. Similarly, if sufficient expansion allowance is not provided the floor may buckle. Therefore, due allowance for expansion and separating sections of the floor, as outlined in later sections, requires consideration in such environments.
1.8Measuring the moisture content in bamboo products
Moisture meters do not directly measure moisture in a product; they measure an electrical property that is influenced by moisture. However, there are other aspects of some products that also have an influence on meter readings including adhesives and density variations. For these reasons moisture meters do not generally provide good guidance as to the actual moisture content and the only way to obtain a reliable estimate of the actual moisture content is to undertake an oven dry test. As no Australian standards are written covering the moisture content testing of bamboo by this method, testing is often undertaken in accordance with the provisions of AS 1080.1 Timber– Methods of Test – Moisture content.
With regard to moisture content testing in strand woven bamboo, oven dry moisture contents of 6% to 9% have been associated with resistance moisture meter readings of about 12% to 17% and capacitance moisture meter readings of about 10% to 15%. Board moisture contents by the oven dry test in strand woven bamboo are generally below that of meters but the degree to which they are below varies and is also greater with moisture affected flooring. Therefore if moisture meters are used with strand woven bamboo then great care is required in interpreting the results and being aware of the limitations. Capacitance moisture meters can be effective in providing a guide as to moisture content differences that may be occurring between one area of a floor and another. When capacitance moisture meters are used with strand woven bamboo, it is usual to set the specific gravity setting on the meter to 1.0 (equivalent to a density of 1000kg/m3). Meters of this type differ in their properties (e.g. depth of reading, internal electronics) and therefore it is necessary to be accustomed with the properties of the meter being used to avoid incorrect interpretation of results.
2.1 Locality and dwelling environment
Provided flooring is protected from subfloor moisture it is mainly the relative humidity in the air that influences the moisture content of bamboo flooring. The initial moisture content of the product will also play a part and in more humid localities a higher moisture content product (8% to 10%) is going to be more suitable. Within a dwelling there are many things that influence the relative humidity and a comfortable living environment is not as extreme as the conditions outside the dwelling. In cold climates the internal environment is moderated by heating when cold wet conditions cause high humidity outside and in summer months when conditions can be hot and humid refrigerative air-conditioning is often used, which moderates the high external humidity. In places experiencing hot dry summers evaporative coolers add moisture to the air, thereby also moderating the conditions. Furnishings such as curtains and rugs also tend to moderate the internal environment not only reducing heat gain in the floor but also absorbing and emitting moisture depending on the humidity, similar to the floor. Generally the conditions that we feel most comfortable in, the bamboo floor will also perform the best. Care is necessary not to create conditions within the dwelling that we would feel particularly uncomfortable in. More extreme use of heating and cooling systems, unfurnished dwellings and permitting hot humid conditions for extended periods inside the dwelling can all have a detrimental effect on bamboo floors. Bamboo flooring products are well suited to dry-to-moderate conditions including the main populated coastal cities.
However with higher humidity conditions greater care is necessary. Often during the building phase when the dwelling is not being lived in, internal conditions tend to more closely reflect external conditions. Floor installation at the end of the building process, particularly if the building is during a humid time of the year, is therefore necessary. Other humid localities include the tropics, buildings within a few hundred meters of the coast, areas with large expanses of grass around them such as farmland, gullies with tall surrounding trees and where the dwelling is often shaded and often near a watercourse. It is important to check both the manufacturer’s installation recommendations and warranty conditions that the product being considered is designed for the dwelling environment.
In a new construction, bamboo flooring should be one of the last items installed. All work involving water or moisture (plumbing, acoustical ceilings, dry wall taping, etc) should be completed prior to wood flooring being installed. Heating and air systems should be fully operating maintaining a consistent room temperature at 16°C to 27°C and a constant relative humidity of 35% to 65%.
2.2 Building site conditions
With regard to the exterior of the building or dwelling all gutters, downpipes and drainage systems need to be in place and operational prior to laying the floor. Similarly, ground work needs to be sufficiently completed to ensure water drains away from the building and that no ponding of water occurs either adjacent to slabs and footings or beneath the building. Prior to product being delivered to site the building needs to be weather tight with all windows and doors in place. Wet trades including plastering, tiling, painting and plumbing should be complete and the building then given time to dry out from higher levels of moisture released from these trades.
The humidity level of the house must be maintained between 35% and 65% all year long. Wood is a living product which reacts to humidity level variations. During summer, where the humidity level is at its highest point, the wood has a natural expansion and absorbs the humidity, these variations must be dealt with adequate dehumidification. As for winter, when the heating system is working, the humidity level is lower. It is then recommended to use a humidifier to minimize the extreme effects of shrinkage.
Please note that this bamboo floors must be installed in environments of 35% to 65% relative humidity to prevent possible damage not covered by warranty. Installation of a humidifier or dehumidifier may be necessary. The floor is designed to perform in an environmentally controlled structure. Warranty exclusions are, but not limited to, surface checking resulting from low humidity, mildew or discoloration resulting from extreme sub-floor moisture.
2.3 Storage and handling
All products should be handled with care and unopened cartons should be stored in dry conditions and elevated at least 100 mm off ground floor slabs. Conditions within the dwelling should resemble as closely as possible the in-service conditions of the completed building or dwelling. If the normal in-service conditions of a building are that they are air-conditioned or heated at the time of the year when the floor is being installed then if possible these conditions should be replicated prior to floor installation and then maintained. Temperatures in the 20s and relative humidity of between 40% and 60% are indicative of the dry to moderate conditions that are best suited to floor installation with many of products available. The focus should be on comfortable living conditions.
Prior to laying the floor some consideration needs to be given to acclimatising the product. Although the word ‘acclimatise’ is used it often has a different meaning to that used with bamboo flooring and therefore individual manufacturer details need to be considered. In some instances manufacturer recommendations state that no acclimatisation is necessary, others indicate that acclimatisation by the processes used with bamboo flooring should be undertaken while others state that storage for a number of days in the installation environment is all that is necessary to acclimatise or accustom the product to the installation environment.
3.1 Appropriate subfloors
For floating applications a wide range of subfloors can be laid over provided the subfloor is in a suitable condition to accept the flooring as outlined below. Suitable subfloors may include concrete, particleboard, plywood, resilient flooring and ceramic tiles. In accordance with the Building Code of Australia bamboo flooring is not to be installed in wet areas such as the bathroom, toilet and laundry. Kitchen and food preparation areas are not deemed to be wet areas.
3.2 Subfloor construction, flatness and cleanliness
All subfloors need to be sound and structurally complying with relevant Australian construction standards (i.e. the supporting timber or concrete if overlaid with tiles or resilient flooring etc.). All subfloors need to be sufficiently flat to accept the flooring system (floated). For floating floors this generally does not exceed 3mm beneath a 1m long straight edge. Specific recommendations for individual flooring products or as recommended by adhesive manufacturers may be tighter than this and in such cases would apply. Where floors are not sufficiently level, leveling compounds, grinding or other means to level the subfloor need to be undertaken.
3.3 Concrete slab subfloors- Protection from moisture
Steps need to be taken to prevent possible moisture uptake into the flooring from the subfloor. Moisture absorption from beneath the floor can result in greater levels of expansion resulting in the likes of cupping, buckling.
Concrete slab subfloors
With regard to concrete slabs aspects relating to the water cement ratio and placement of the concrete have a direct bearing on the permeability of the slab. Hence a slab that is many years old is not necessarily a dry slab. Slab moisture can also change seasonally with changes to the water table level. Higher strength concrete often used in high rise development is less permeable and presents less risk. Slabs that are elevated also present less risk than slabs that are on the ground. A slab that is below grade, cut into an embankment or where the slab is near the same level as patios or the ground level outside present the greatest risk. With additions to houses the joint between new and old slabs also presents a high risk and needs to be attended to in order that moisture and moisture vapour do not affect the floor.
Concerning slab moisture assessment, concrete moisture meters may be used as well as in-slab relative humidity tests. Such measures along with assessments of the risks outlined above are necessary for all slabs. New slabs may give readings with a concrete capacitance moisture meter of about 6% a few days after placement. Within 3 months the readings may be down to about 4% and after two years readings may settle to about 2%. Once a slab is known to be reducing in moisture content like this other means of protecting against possible slab moisture can be employed. Note that a slab that is for example 6 years old and giving readings of perhaps 4% is a high risk slab because after this period of time moisture meter readings should have been lower. Note also the limitations of concrete moisture meters. They measure moisture near the top of the slab and once a floor is laid moisture levels generally increase toward the top of the slab.
In-slab relative humidity measurement is a method of slab moisture assessment that is increasing in popularity throughout the world and is considered to provide a more accurate assessment of the potential for slab moisture to affect a floor. That is the test takes into account that moisture in a slab increases toward the top surface of the slab once a floor is laid. In-slab relative humidity remains relatively high in all slabs and information from overseas suggests that in-slab relatively humidities of 80% to 85% are at a level where flooring products can be considered and with bamboo flooring other means of protecting against possible slab moisture can be employed. In-slab relative humidity requires holes to be drilled in the slab, the hole plugged and readings with a hygrometer taken some time later.
With floating floors an underlay and moisture retarding layer is a standard recommendation of bamboo flooring manufacturers. Many bamboo flooring products have specific underlays that are to be used and contain an integral moisture retarding layer. Bamboo flooring product supplier recommendations concerning the desired system are to be followed and underlay or applied moisture vapour retarding products are to be applied in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.
3.4 Timber and sheet subfloors – Protection from moisture
Bamboo flooring can be laid over particleboard or plywood subfloors on joists and often on solid timber flooring on joists as a floating floor. It is essential to ensure possible moisture, in either the sheet or timber subfloor and the subfloor space beneath, does not affect the flooring being laid. Note that strand woven bamboo can be more sensitive to subfloor conditions than solid timber flooring due to its low permeability.
Subfloor Spaces and Surrounds
The drainage system provided to the dwelling site needs to ensure that run-off water will drain away from the building perimeter (not towards it) and that run-off water is prevented from entering the subfloor space. The ground beneath a suspended floor should also be graded and closed drainage systems used if necessary so that no ponding is possible. The subfloor space must be free from all building debris and vegetation. Landscaping, patios and the like should not limit air-flow around the external perimeter of the subfloor
space, and structural elements should also not limit air-flow. Where the subfloor space is enclosed the provisions as for solid timber flooring also apply. Ventilation to the subfloor space is a requirement of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). If the recommended natural ventilation cannot be provided to subfloor spaces (e.g. due to adjoining decks or where foundations are cut in), a mechanical ventilation system should be installed which replaces all of the air in this space on a regular basis and prevents the formation of ‘dead-air’ pockets. Where ventilation is compromised (e.g. subfloor obstructions, fences and adjoining structures) consideration should be given to the use of more than the minimum number of
vents, ensuring that cross flow is achieved.
If there are doubts over the subfloor humidity and maintaining dry conditions at all time beneath the floor (areas of high water table or reduced airflow etc.) a polyethylene membrane laid over the soil should also be considered (taped at joints and fixed to stumps and walls), in addition to increased ventilation. With dwellings on sloping blocks, the possibility of seepage should be taken into account and appropriate control measures taken prior to the installation of the floor. Subfloor ventilation through permanent vents that exceeds minimum Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements is recommended where any timber floor is installed. The levels outlined in the BCA (6000 mm² per meter length of wall in moderate to higher humidity areas) are primarily to limit the moisture content of subfloor framing timbers, which can generally tolerate greater fluctuations in moisture content. The recommended minimum ventilation is 7500 mm2 per meter length of wall, with vents evenly spaced to ensure that cross ventilation is provided to all subfloor areas (refer to the figure below). BCA relative humidity zones and associated BCA ventilation requirements are also provided below.
In some localities, to meet constraints associated with energy efficiency, it may be decided to reduce ventilation levels to the values provided in the BCA. The BCA also outlines that a moisture barrier over the soil beneath the building reduces ventilation requirements and this approach is equally applicable to timber floors (refer to the table above). If ventilation below the recommended level is used, due consideration should be given to alternative measures as outlined above and particular attention should be paid to ensuring that
the subfloor space remains dry throughout all seasons. The type of vent may also need to be considered with buildings in bushfire areas which limits the mesh size used in vents. It should be noted that the maximum vent spacing irrespective of net ventilation area is 2 m and that any screens that may be necessary in bushfire areas or for vermin proofing may restrict airflow and this may need to be compensated for.
Moisture Content of the Subfloor
It is necessary to check that the existing timber or sheet floor moisture content is appropriate to accept the new floor. The cause of any excess moisture (wetting during construction, leaks, inadequate subfloor ventilation, etc) needs to be addressed prior to installation of the new floor. Moisture meters are unpredictable in sheet flooring and this may necessitate oven dry testing. Due to the adhesives in sheet products resistance moisture meter readings in these products as a subfloor, sometime after installation, are generally higher than oven dry moisture contents. Resistance moisture meter testing of subfloor joists can also provide an indication of general sheet subfloor moisture contents. Sheet subfloors should not be more than a few percent higher than the expected average in-service moisture content. For example in main coastal major cities the average in-service moisture content is about 11% and therefore the subfloor should be no
more than 13%. In tropical locations timber may average 14% and therefore 16% in the subfloor could be expected.
3.5 Other subfloors and those requiring acoustic rating
Bamboo flooring may also be installed over subfloors not specifically outlined above; however as these are less common the flooring product manufacturer should be consulted on advice regarding the product and installation system to be used. A degree of acoustic isolation is achieved with either floating installation on underlay or with some adhesive fixed systems. However, in apartment developments there is a requirement to meet not only BCA requirements of an LnTw (plus a modification factor Cl) to be not more than 62dB for floors separating dwellings but also the provisions under the Strata Schemes Management Act where the Body Corporate can set its own requirements. For comparative purposes it should be noted that carpet will generally achieve an LnTw of about 40dB and for bare concrete with a 175 mm slab an LnTw may be about 70dB. Note that sound pressure is measured in decibels (dB) and an increase or decrease is perceived by us as a change in loudness. Most of us would notice a change of 3dB and a reduction of 10dB would sound about half as loud. Due to these requirements specific underlays and installation practices need to be employed to achieve the required sound isolation. Aspects relating to the thickness of concrete subfloors play a significant roll and thinner timber floors generally result in less sound transmission than thicker flooring. Underlay performance relates more to the design of the underlay rather than the thickness. Timber flooring systems including acoustic underlays often provide about 10 to 20 dB attenuation (reduction in noise). Hence with such applications advice from the flooring product manufacturer and others will likely be necessary.
3.6 Heated Slabs
As bamboo flooring differs in type and properties between manufacturers not all products may be suitable for installing over heated subfloors. Therefore if installing a floor over a heated subfloor it is necessary not only to choose the correct product but also to follow the specific manufacturer installation instructions.
Products are available that can be floated down over heated concrete slab subfloors. Provided below is an outline of principles that need to be considered, although installation practice must follow manufacturer guidelines. The slab must first be assessed that it is suitable for floor installation in terms of slab integrity, flatness and initially at a moisture level suited to floor installation over unheated slabs. Following this further drying is necessary. If this is not done heating of the slab will drive remaining moisture out after the flooring is installed affecting its performance. Hence the heating system must be operational prior to floor installation and further drying of the slab is achieved by applying heat for about 72 hours and then letting it rest for 24 hours. At this time a moisture vapour barrier may be considered for added protection.
Bamboo flooring can then be laid as a floating installation in line with standard practices for the product being installed including recommended expansion allowance in both floor width and length. Forty eight hours after installation the heating system needs to be operated and temperature increased equally over a five day period up to a maximum temperature of 27°C and then maintained at this temperature for at least a further two weeks. If the flooring is not prefinished and is to be sanded and coated then the floor needs to be cooled for about 3 days after installation and following the heat stabilization process, standard sanding and coating practices can be used. Note however that care should be exercised in the choice of coating that it is not prone to edge bonding and tram lining. The system may then be used but be aware that timber floors should not be subjected to sudden changes and therefore temperatures should be either increased or decreased over a period of days to reach desired operating temperature with a maximum of 27°C. Some seasonal movement in the floor is to be expected and it should also be taken into account that the floor is now accustomed to dry conditions which should be maintained when external humidity is high. Ideally an internal humidity between 35% and 65% will generally provide conditions for best performance.
With floating floors the underlay provides a cushioning effect between the bamboo floor and the subfloor over which it is laid. As such it also allows the floor to also accommodate the minor acceptable tolerances in the flatness of the subfloor. Many underlays also provide the role of a moisture vapour retarder and have this built into them with a plastic layer to prevent moisture vapour from affecting the flooring. However, this is not provided with all underlays and therefore moisture vapour transmission may need to be considered separately, such as by placing a 0.2 mm polyethylene plastic sheet over the subfloor first. In such instances the plastic sheeting is usually overlapped by about 200mm and the joints taped. The underlay can also influence both the noise transmission through a floor and the noise emitted from the floor when walked on. Consequently, underlays come in a variety of materials depending on the properties that the manufacturer desires to achieve. Underlay products include expanded foams, polyesters, cork and rubber. In commercial applications where heavier loading may occur, a more dense product may be used.
The subfloors over which the product can be laid and the environmental conditions most suited to the individual products will differ. It is therefore essential that it be determined that the chosen product is suitable for a specific locality and micro climate (e.g. coastal or bushy gully), that the subfloor is suited to the specific product and that the installation method is suited to both the product and installation environment. The installation must therefore be undertaken to the product manufacturer’s recommendations. Provided below is a general overview of the installation of floating floors. It is a description of the general process only, noting that it is the individual manufacturer recommendations that are to be followed with the actual floor installation.
Any installation exceeding 6 meters in width or length will require an internal expansion gap. We also recommend all doorways to have an expansion gap.
5.1 Equipment required to lay the floor
The equipment necessary to lay the floor will differ a little depending on whether the flooring is to be floated and with floating floors that is a locking (glueless) joint system. However boards need to be cut and drop saws, circular saws and jig saws are often used. General carpentry tools including tape measure, pencil, string line, hammer and a carpenter’s square are required. Specific to floor installation are tapping blocks, pull bars and means to assess subfloor moisture.
Adhesives of various types may be necessary, with T&G floating floors generally using a cross linked PVA and direct adhesive fixed floors generally using a polyurethane flooring adhesive. Similarly, cleaning cloths and products for dealing with excess adhesive are also necessary. With direct adhesive fi x applications subfloor leveling equipment, applied moisture retarders and sanding and grinding equipment or leveling compounds may also be required. Correct glue trowels are also needed and are specific to the adhesive manufacturer. Systems which include a moisture vapour retarder and adhesive generally need to be from the same manufacturer to maintain warranty of these products.
Safety is a priority and therefore correct use of power tools and use of products associated with the floor installation need to be in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines, safety instructions and application instructions as applicable for the equipment and products used. The work area also needs to be kept clean. Note also that wood and wood dust can be an irritant and that wood dust has been classified as a nasal carcinogen in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
5.3 For all Installations
The flooring is to be checked at the time of laying for manufacturing imperfections that could become a concern in the finished floor. This includes aspects of grade, imperfections in board shape or damage to boards as well as coating imperfections. We expect to be notified of any such defect imperfection at this time in order that any concerns can be addressed promptly and not necessitating remedial work to a completed floor. Affected boards should be set aside and not laid. Some suppliers indicate that the flooring should be laid from several different packs (at least 3) at the one time and if applicable, to mix together different production batches, to ensure a good mix of floor colour and tones. The installer is responsible for the placement of the boards in the floor in terms of colour and length distribution. Some boards may blend better to existing moldings and placement of boards that create sharp contrasts that do not blend should be avoided. Ends joints need to be spaced and a minimum of 300mm to 500mm. Some flooring with set length boards is laid to a pattern with a set stagger while in other case manufacturers recommend cutting starting boards to varying lengths. All floors require expansion allowance at skirting and around fixed objects. Intermediate expansion allowance can be required in both the length and width of floors. The length and width at which intermediate expansion allowance is needed will depend on the individual product. With longer floors expansion joints are required at doorways due to the differential movement of different sized floors in different rooms.
A neater job is provided when door casings and jambs are cut for the floor to pass beneath and negates the need for more difficult scribe cutting. Similarly, any other molds etc should be removed and replaced after floor installation. In preparation for the installation, the direction that the floor will be run needs to be considered. Often for the preferred visual effect and for expansion reasons the floor is run parallel to the longer walls and down the length of longer hallways. If however there is strong incoming light on the floor this may affect the choice of direction with consideration being given to installing in the direction of incoming light. Light at oblique angles across the board widths can highlight minor variations in the board surface and between boards.
5.4 Floating floor installation
It should be noted that two products types may be floated over an underlay: the T&G profile and the interlocking (glueless) joint system.
Aspects relating to the product chosen, on-site storage and acclimatisation, the in-service environment, subfloor condition, underlay to be used, safety aspects and equipment needed to complete the installation should all have been considered and be in accordance with the manufacturer recommendations, prior to the point of floor installation. Similarly the points outlined in section 6.1 should also have been considered.
Some general points with floating floor installation are as follows:
l All floors are laid on underlay which generally has a pre-attached moisture barrier and manufacturers generally require the inclusion of a moisture retarding barrier;
l Floating floors are not to be fixed to the subfloor at any point. It needs to be ensured that the floor is free to move in all directions. That is, the floor is not to abut any vertical surfaces which include doorways, other adjoining floor surfaces, pipe work, benches or staircases. Similarly the likes of kitchen benches are not to be placed on the floor, but the floor is to be cut around them;
l Manufacturer recommended expansion allowance to all vertical surfaces is to be provided noting that in more humid environments greater expansion can be expected and therefore expansion allowance toward the upper end of the manufacturer range is prudent. Similarly wider or longer floors should be provided with more than the minimum;
l It is to be ensured that intermediate expansion joints are provided where recommended and that appropriate expansion joints at doorways are also provided. Subfloor expansion and construction joints running parallel to the direction of laying need to be mimicked in the bamboo floor above. Construction joints in slabs need to be sealed from vapour transmission;
The installation process differs a little between manufacturers but is generally as follows:
l The underlay is rolled out onto the subfloor with integral moisture barrier facing the subfloor as applicable. Joints in the underlay are butted together and taped to provide a continuous layer;
l The first row of boards is laid with the groove side facing the starting wall and ensuring the recommended expansion allowance has been provided. Blocks or wedges can be used in the expansion gap to maintain the correct allowance. If the wall undulates then this row of boards will need to be scribed and cut so that the expansion allowance is even down the length of the wall. Also, consideration may need to be given that on the opposite wall the floor will not finish with a very narrow board. This can be another reason for cutting back the first row of boards.
Locking Joint System Installation
l Where the flooring has an locking (glueless) joint system the process is similar to the T&G installation exceptthat no adhesive is required. The choice of starting wall, possible need to cut lengthwise the first row of boards to provide an evenexpansion gap and staggering of joints etc. is all the same
l Some manufacturers suggest three rows of boards be laid. The first row laid by rotating the end joints together and subsequenttwo rows rotating the edge joints together and then using the provided blocks to gently tap end joints together. Once three rows arefitted this flooring section can be slid on the underlay to achieve the final correct positioning and expansion allowance spacings.The main body of the floor and possibly cutting of the final board are undertaken similarly.
5.5 Other installation methods
The above outlines the most common forms of floor installation. Some products may also be suitable for installation by other methods such as mechanical fixing to a timber of sheet subfloors or mechanical fix to a batten system over concrete. At times floors are also adhesive fixed over ceramic tiles or similar. When laying on a subfloor over joists, with some flooring it is also preferred that boards are laid at right angles to the direction of the joists as this prevents the possibility of the visual effects from minor sagging of the subfloor between joists from being a concern. Procedures will be contained within the individual flooring manufacturer’s installation guides for these installations and such methods should only be used for the products intended by the manufacturer.
5.6 On completion
After the flooring has been laid, and in order to complete the installation, skirtings of sufficient size to cover expansion allowance provided at walls etc. need to be fitted and fixed to the walls. Where floors are laid with the skirting in place, a fillet mold is usually used to cover the expansion allowance. In some spaces elastomeric filler can be used. When prefinished floating floors are completed they should be thoroughly cleaned using the appropriate cleaning products and any scuffing or minor scratches attended to prior to handover. At times minor imperfections may also be present in the floor and these can usually be filled with an appropriate colour matched filler or a hot wax repair. If the floor has been damaged and cannot be repaired to an acceptable condition, the individual board or area of flooring may need to be replaced.
6 Caring for your floor
6.1 General care
Bamboo floors are considered to be easy to maintain but like all floor surfaces they do require regular cleaning and few precautionary practices to maintain their appearance and preserve their service life.
On a regular basis floors should be dry mopped with a static mop, soft bristle broom or by vacuum cleaning (provided a brush or felt head is used and any wheels can rotate freely). Ensure with such cleaning nothing hard rubs on the floor as it may mark it. These practices not only pick up any lint and dust but also grit that can be damaging to the floor surface. Similarly, if pets are to be inside it is necessary to ensure that nails are trimmed and paws clean, thereby not introducing excessive grit. Any spill needs to be wiped up as soon as it occurs. Failure to do so can dull or discolour the finish and if left for a long period can damage the flooring.
Rugs and floor mats are also effective in trapping grit at doorways, both inside and out, and reducing wear in high traffic areas. However do note that both the coatings and timber colour can change under the effect of UV light and that this can cause colour differences under rugs. For this reason it can be prudent to not use rugs for the first six months or so. Alternatively, moving rugs on a more frequent basis and at times furniture over this initial period and ensuring curtains and window coverings filter sunlight can assist in reducing these effects. Rugs should also not be rubber backed or have similar impervious backing. Not only can such products mar the floor’s finish but they can prevent the floor’s natural exchange of moisture vapour through the board surface. All rugs and floor mats also require regular cleaning.
Legs of moveable furniture such as dining room chairs need to have protective felt pads to prevent scratches from occurring. When moving heavy objects such as furniture or appliances they need to be lifted into position to prevent bruising or scratching of the floor surface. Footwear with high point loads such as stiletto heels will also damage timber floor surfaces and therefore management of this is necessary. In addition to the above there are a number practices not appropriate for bamboo floors as follows. Do not use cleaning methods or products not designed for timber floors such as scouring pads or cleaners that may contain abrasives, soaps, waxes, ammonia or silicon. Specific timber floor cleaning products are available and should be used. Do not use steam mops (irrespective of what the product sales people may say) or any form of scrubbing machine. Do not use floor mats or rugs over heated subfloors.
With many flooring products a maintenance coat may be used periodically, applied by the homeowner or maintenance personnel. These provide a sacrificial coating that protects the floor finish and can also mask scuffing and minor scratches. However in time it may be desired to fully refurbish the floor through buffing or sanding back and recoating. If the finish has not worn through to the timber surface, and this is quite likely with the coating additives often used, then the floor can usually be buffed back and recoated. Some floor products suit traditional coating systems but those with wear resistant additives generally require a specific coating available for pre-finished flooring and if not used, rejection and a poor appearance can result.
In other instances it may be desirable to sand back to bare timber, however it must first be ascertained that the flooring product has a sufficiently thick lamella or veneer for this to be possible. Other aspects such as the evenness of the floor surface would also need to be considered. Site sanded and finished floors generally provide a high standard of appearance but most contain some imperfections (e.g. dust particles and visual grain effects) not found in an original factory coated floorboard. Such imperfections, if minor in nature,
are acceptable to the industry. The coating may also not be as long lasting as the factory finish and will therefore require attention a little more frequently.
Limited Warranty Exclusion and Conditions
1. The Limited Warranties do not apply to “seconds” or “mill trial” grade products.
2. The Limited Warranties apply only to the original purchaser and the original installation site, and are not transferable.
3. The Limited Warranties do not cover conditions or defects caused by improper installation, the use of improper adhesives, inadequate sub-flooring or improper sub-floor preparation.
4. The Limited Warranties apply only to products installed indoors. The Limited Warranty does not apply to panels installed in wet areas and do not cover any inappropriate environment.
5. The Limited Warranties do not cover construction related damage.
6. The Limited Warranty does not cover damage due to fluids of any source or type.
7. The Limited Warranties do not cover panels that have been installed with obvious visual defects.
8. The Limited Warranties do not cover conditions caused by improper use or maintenance, such as:–loss of gloss or build-up of dulling film due to lack of maintenance or improper maintenance.–damage resulting from failure to follow floor care instructions.–scuffs, scratches, cuts, chipping, indenting or similar damage caused by gliders, castor wheels, vacuum cleaner beater bars, toys, or other objects.–damage caused by chemicals, burns, fires and other accidents.–damage caused by abuse (i.e. dragging heavy or sharp objects across the floor without proper protection).–Failure to support furniture with floor protectors made of non-staining felt or non-pigmented hard plastic. Protectors must be at least one inch in diameter and rest flat on the floor.
9. The Limited Warranties do not cover variations of color, shade or texture of the panels you purchase from those shown on samples or photographs.
- This warranty is for replacement or refund of the materials only, no labor.
- This warranty applies only to the original purchaser.
- Claims for wear must be shown a minimum of 10% of total area.
- Any known manufacturing defect must be reported prior to product installation, and not be installed.
- Any claim under this warranty shall be made by contacting the shop before installation. Proof of purchase with the date of purchase must be presented with the claim.
- Any damage that occurs during shipping is the responsibility of the shipping company.
- Flooring Market reserves the right, and must be offered the opportunity, to inspect the complaint in site and, where applicable, to inspect the floor in its installed condition.
The benefits to the consumer under the warranty are in addition to other rights and remedies of the consumer under a law in relation to the goods or services to which the warranty relates. Our goods come with guarantees that cannot be excluded under the Australian Consumer Law. You are entitled to a replacement or refund for a major failure and for compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. You are also entitled to have the goods repaired or replaced if the goods fail amount to major failure. All expenses related to warranty claims are the responsibility of the consumer making the warranty claim.