23 Aug Bamboo 2010 Style
Part Three: Choosing a Salesperson
There are a few hints sales people drop that can mean they know little or nothing about bamboo flooring.
The first is failure to include bamboo in the choices he or she shows you when you say you’re looking for hardwood flooring. But this is not reason in itself to bolt. Different in-store promotions and incentives offered by manufacturers can divert a salesperson’s attention. You can cut through this issue quickly by saying you also want to see bamboo.
Once they have their bamboo flooring selections before you, there are two sure signs of inexperience. The first is if they spend a lot of time showing you traditional horizontal- (or flat-) and vertical-grain bamboo with little mention of strand bamboo. The second is if they emphasize that bamboo flooring is more dimensionally stable than hardwood.
There’s nothing wrong with traditional horizontal- and vertical-grain bamboo, but in terms of style, it can be viewed as dated. For those of us who began selling these styles 10 years ago or earlier, the emergence of strand bamboo flooring was a welcome visual innovation that also was harder than traditional bamboo. And since 2008, more than 60 percent of bamboo customers have selected strand over traditional bamboo flooring.
Whether traditional or strand, claims of superior dimensional stability have to be heard with caution. Bamboo flooring reacts to moisture as does hardwood flooring. Yes, you can glue solid bamboo flooring down to concrete, but only if your installer tests the slab for moisture according to the manufacturer’s instructions, the moisture levels don’t exceed set limits and you use the proper glue.
Next, know going into it that humidity levels in your indoor air have to be controlled year-round, just as they do with hardwood. For some reason, this fact has eluded many customers who have read that bamboo flooring is 2.5 times more dimensionally stable than common hardwoods. Coupled with the fact that bamboo is a grass, the impression that it is more water resistant than wood has prevailed.
When exposed to too much moisture, bamboo flooring – traditional or strand — will cup, meaning the sides of each board curl upward as they expand from moisture content and butt up against the next board. The few homeowners and project managers I have seen this happen to were aghast. Their stress increased when they read their warranties and saw the disclaimers about damage due to moisture. A manufacturer will always take the position that the cupping was caused by moisture, and a moisture problem is always viewed as the customer’s problem.
If you have selected the correct company to install your floor, its installers will have moisture meters and other tools to ensure readings are taken and documented before your flooring is installed and while it is being installed. A company that is being proactive will take a moisture reading of your flooring as soon as it is received to ensure it was delivered at the correct moisture content before it ever enters your job site.
The company you select also should be able to tell you how to follow the manufacturer’s requirements for maintaining proper humidity levels and proper cleaning – no damp mopping — of your floor.
If your salesperson doesn’t have all of this covered, take your time and shop around.
–Nancy Kibbee is editor at naturalinteriors.com