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montaillou 05-30-2007 07:46 PM

bamboo over radiant heat
Ripping up my kitchen out to the studs and down to the joists (it's a crawlspace. Making sure joists are level, putting down new subfloor (plywood), installing pex for radiant heating under the subfloor (between the joists), then plan on putting engineered bamboo on top of that. Environment: I live in the US Pacific NW, within a few miles of a major body of salt water - generally humidity in the area runs around 25% even on sunny days.

I've been doing ALOT of web research on the topic and some of the information is conflicting.

Any web site that has an opinion has recommended engineered bamboo, and it appears to me that this would be the most stable application especially with radiant floor heat.

I intend to install a light band of flooring approximately 5" wide at the base of the walls and the base of all the cabinets, and the rest of the floor a darker color.

My biggest issue is how to put down the bamboo floor:

My initial thought was to put down wall to wall engineered floor, nailed, perpendicular to the joists. Then put the cabinets on top of the floor.

Many web sites recommend a floating floor. One site said not to use a floating bamboo floor over radiant heat and emphasized the point by using all caps. Another site recommended not installing a floating floor under the cabinets.

I am aware of the danger of nailing into an area with radiant heat, and can overcome that with a thicker subfloor as necessary. Aside from this potential disaster/issue, does anyone have a recommendation for or against nails/staples?

Should any pad/paper be put under the flooring, between it and the subfloor? Many sites have recommended #15 felt paper, one site explicitly said not to use felt paper and a post I read in another forum suggested that felt paper might smell when heated up and suggested rosin paper.

Not to get offtopic, but should anything unusual be done with the sub floor? I know most people putting down a new wood floor don't have the option of messing with the subfloor, however in my case I can make any changes needed.

Thx for any opinions/suggestions.

send_it_all 05-30-2007 08:41 PM

All I have to add is that I have installed a floating, engineered bamboo floor that was purchased by the customer...and it was the softest, most ridiculously fragile piece of crap I have ever seen. The lady was denting the floor by walking on it with high heels.....just normal heels not hooker stilettos or anything like that.....and she was a thin lady, not a beast.

Clutchcargo 05-30-2007 09:16 PM

63 Attachment(s)
I don't have much experience with bamboo. I see it in a light commercial floor application and it does show some wear with traffic patterns evident.
You mentioned that you were going to install the radiant tubes between the joists. Since you're taking the room down to the studs and joists you should consider using a product like warmboard. Warmboard doubles as both a radiant reflector and subfloor. It's expensive but you're only doing one room so that costs wouldn't be that much. There's also Wirsbo quik-trak. This is applied over a subfloor. The idea is to get the pex as close to the floor surface as possible so that you can run cooler water temps.

Floorwizard 06-03-2007 01:44 PM

Bamboo quality is determined by ALOT of factors.
If you have not already purchased, you should consider Teregren.

As far as floating over radient, that will be o.k. But just like any other wood or grass, you will need a humidifier to make things continue to perform best.

rolldodge 06-28-2007 02:32 PM


Originally Posted by send_it_all (Post 47062)
just normal heels not hooker stilettos ....

I am just impressed you knew what that was. :laughing:

Anyway, I can't say that I ever installed with the radiant heat under that sub floor. The jobs I've done have nailed down 3/4 X 3 sleepers and weave the 1/2" piping between. We didn't use tar paper either.

Here is the thing with bamboo, if it's not 3/4 of an inch make sure you use a staple. If you use a cleat, say from powernailer, it is going to leave a slight, well splinter for lack of a better word. When you butt the next board up, then take a step back, when the light hits it just right, you are going to see a wave!

If you can afford it, go with 3/4" flooring, and try and stay away from pre-finished.

Floorwizard 07-11-2007 10:18 PM


and try and stay away from pre-finished.
why is that?

kdhughes 07-15-2007 11:35 AM

Strand Bamboo
We are putting down strand bamboo. It is 2x harder than regular bamboo. It can be installed over radiant heat, but I think it must be nailed or glued. Check it out at This is where we plan to get our carbonized fibrestrand bamboo. Melissa is wonderful with providing the information you need via e-mail. We did TONS of research on eco-friendly flooring and found this to be the best option as far as cost and durability. It looks more like hardwood and less like bamboo, which we liked plus the hardness factor. We got a sample, and it seems very solid. It is very beautiful IMO.

montaillou 07-25-2007 01:17 PM


Originally Posted by rolldodge (Post 50774)
...and stay away from pre-finished.


I'm in the process of looking into this right now, so, if it's obvious and posted elsewhere on this forum, don't bother answering - I'll find it.

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