When our client came in to discuss flooring for her remodel, we asked the questions we ask every client before recommending flooring options: How old is your home? Is it on slab or pear and beam? What type of floor do you have currently? What style is your home? How long have you lived there? Do you plan to sell anytime soon? If not, how long do you plan to live there? Do you have kids? Pets?
This particular client lives in a ranch-style house built in ’73. Before she came to us, the house had low-pile Berber carpet throughout. She told us she was planning an extensive remodel with a mid-century modern style and that she was ready to part with the carpet in favor of a hard surface floor.
She also mentioned that she has a 70 lb. Golden Retriever and two young kids.
We told her that, yes, dogs and kids can be hard on floors, but there were still options if she wanted wood flooring. We pulled samples of solid wood, engineered wood, wood-looking tile, wood-looking vinyl plank and strand bamboo.
The more we spoke with her and saw which direction she was leaning regarding stain color and grain, the more we felt that strand bamboo was the best recommendation. It has the same look as wood but she said, “Bamboo just sounds so exotic.” Well, yes. But more importantly, strand bamboo is manufactured with resin, which gives it a hard durability that can withstand the wear and tear from dogs and kids.
More specifically, she chose a Teragren bamboo product in a Chestnut color.
From selection of material to final installation, here is the step-by-step process we went through to achieve the new look for her home:
Remove the furniture
In order to prep the floor, we had to get the furniture out of there. She was relieved to learn that we move the furniture out before we demolish, or “demo” the old floor and move the furniture back in after we’ve installed the new floor. In this case, our client had rented a storage POD for us to move the furniture into while her remodel was taking place.
Before we bring in our demo crew, we find out what type of surface is beneath the floor we’re ripping out. In this case, we were removing from concrete slab. We tore up carpet from the living areas, laminate from the foyer and tile from the kitchen. What did you need to do specifically to remove these three kinds of flooring from my house? Were there any difficulties or obstacles?
Prep the floor
One of the most crucial factors in floor installation is always to get the slab completely flat, or “level.” When the original slab is poured, it’s not always as flat as it could be. And you don’t know how level it is until you demo the old stuff. Once we had torn up the old floor, we took a 10-foot straight edge and fanned it out across the slab. We’re allowed 1/8 of an inch, but if the level teeters more than 1/8 of an inch within a 10-foot span, you have a hump or a valley. This is extremely important with hard surface flooring. If the floor is not completely flat, the new floorboards will buckle or pop out of place and you definitely do not want that to happen. That’s something a lot of do-it-yourselfers don’t realize.
Level the floor
Humps in the floor can be ground down with a power sander, but if it’s a more prominent hump we have to chip it out. Valleys are filled with more concrete, which we use as a self-leveler. And that new concrete still needs to be troughed out and leveled. In this client’s case, we had to do both. We sanded the humps and filled in the valley, which took three days of floor prep. It may sound extreme but floor prep is the single most important factor in achieving a quality floor that withstands the test of time.
Acclimate the material
Between floor prep and installation, we brought the bamboo planks into the house so they could acclimate in her living room for 72 hours. Hard surface materials contract and expand due to weather and temperature conditions. All bamboo (and wood) flooring continually expands and contracts until it reaches equilibrium moisture content (EMC) with the environment in which it’s installed. If we bring the material in cold and install it right away, it could expand and cause planks to buckle. We need to let it expand before we lay it down. Most wood needs 48 hours to acclimate to an environment.However, strand bamboo requires a longer acclimation period. In this case, we let materials acclimate for 72 hours before installation began.
Install the floor
Once we get the floor good and clean, we draw chalk marks along the floor to make sure the floor is precisely squared up. Using those chalk lines as a guide, we trough out a 5-6 foot section of glue and then stair-step the boards along those chalk lines, section by section. As we lay the boards, we use blue tape to secure them together while the glue dries.
Move the furniture back in
Our crew moved her furniture back into the house for her, even bringing moving and lifting straps to make sure her upright piano was centered properly along her newly
painted living room wall.
As you can see, the result was a beautiful floor of “exotic-sounding” strand bamboo.