Help me protect my new bamboo floors.
October 30, 2009 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Help me protect my new bamboo floors

Just installed some engineered bamboo wood floors in the basement of our house. Installed with moisture barrier underneath, and the slab tested dry, so I am not worried about that. I would like to wax or somehow put some sort of additional layer of protection on the top, since we got a less expensive floor, which I know probably has a very thin finish layer. This is what we got:

I have heard that certain products do not work well with prefinished floors, so I don't want to get anything that will cause damage to the finish.

My wife is pregnant, and we have several cats that live in that area, so anything toxic is out (I won't be putting on a poly finish or anything like that), but I am wondering if there is some sort of floor wax that will work well, and won't cause finish problems. I can keep the cats at bay from walking in that area for an afternoon or overnight if needed, but can't remove them from the area entirely.

I don't mind a little "wax on, wax off" elbow grease, but I just don't want to put something down that will cause the floors to look hazey or that will chemically react with the finish.

Any suggestions?
posted by markblasco to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Engineered floors are really engineered right down to the finish, even the cheap ones. Wax is not a good idea as will only make a mess later on. That particular floor most likely has a much harder finish than anything you can apply at home because it's put on and properly cured at the factory. Your best bet is to use something like Bona floor cleaner and simply damp-mop the floor regularly as that will keep grit from slowly eroding the finish.
posted by GuyZero at 10:39 AM on October 30, 2009

Response by poster: I was also thinking that a wax that we would apply after putting the floor together would help to keep moisture from getting into any cracks between the boards, but maybe that shouldn't even be a concern?
posted by markblasco at 10:42 AM on October 30, 2009

Also, that link indicates the finish contains aluminum oxide particles aka sapphire which is considered a premium additive to floor finishes that improves wear resistance. It seems like as good as you're likely to get for flooring in that price range unless the spec sheet is wrong/lying.
posted by GuyZero at 10:42 AM on October 30, 2009

if it's an interlocking engineered floor then moisture penetration shouldn't be a concern. Just don't spill a gallon of hot soup on it. Mop up spills immediately. The biggest worry is condensation on the cold floor underneath but the moisture barrier prevents that.
posted by GuyZero at 10:44 AM on October 30, 2009

Engineered just means you've got laminated cross ply underneath. What really matters is what's on top. Bamboo floors can either be really soft (standard construction) or really hard (strand woven) - there's really nothing you can do after the fact. Note that carbonized bamboo is actually even softer.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:47 AM on October 30, 2009

Response by poster: The long sides of the wood lock together, but the short sides are a tongue and groove, and they don't lock together. With expansion and contraction of the wood I am pretty sure there will be slight gaps in the surface at those points.
posted by markblasco at 11:04 AM on October 30, 2009

With expansion and contraction of the wood I am pretty sure there will be slight gaps in the surface at those points.

There will be, years down the road; but no finish you could add will prevent that from happening; nor would floor wax change the hardness of the bamboo.

The biggest issue we've had with our bamboo floors (now 7 or 8 years old, I think) is surface scratches from sliding chair legs etc: I'd strongly suggest you put felt pads on the bottom of chair and other furniture legs. I wouldn't bother with anything else beyond that.
posted by ook at 11:26 AM on October 30, 2009

You could have glued the edges together to keep moisture from penetrating. This is what they suggest in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

To prevent surface scratches, I would also keep pets off it, if possible, and dust/swiffer any dirt and grit ASAP.

My friend put in bamboo floors and ripped them out about a year later because his dog scratched the hell out of them.
posted by wrnealis at 2:34 PM on October 30, 2009

Response by poster: When I bought the floors the sales guy was pretty adamant that I shouldn't glue anything unless I had to cut very narrow pieces to fill in edges, so I didn't use any glue in the middle of the pieces. I guess you live and learn. I will make sure to glue together the edges if I do any more of the house later on.

If everyone thinks that I am fine without any extra layer on the floor than I will sleep a little easier.
posted by markblasco at 3:52 PM on October 30, 2009

Leave them as they are.
There is no additional finish you can apply to a prefinished product. It already has the best finish it will ever have.

Concerning joint glue, do not do it unless the manufacturer of the bamboo flooring recommends it.
Floating floors with a click joint are designed to be glueless. This allows them to expand and contract properly with changes in temperature, humidity, etc. So long as the joints of the planks are well milled, fit together properly, and the flooring was acclimated in the space for recommended length of time at recommended temperature/humidity, you shouldn't have any problems.
posted by nickthetourist at 6:33 PM on October 30, 2009

The linked product has a 30 year warranty for residential use. The aluminum oxide factory finish is going to be more durable than anything you can apply yourself. Wax will not provide the kind of protection you're probably looking for, and if improperly applied, will attract dirt and alter the look of your floor in an undesirable way. Also, from your spec sheet: "Alteration or repair that is not manufacturer authorized will void the warranty." Applying another sealer on top of the factory finish might constitute an alteration. Finally, you might see small gaps between the boards, but with a tongue and groove structure, you won't have to worry about moisture leaks, as long as you attend to them quickly.
posted by killy willy at 10:32 PM on October 30, 2009

Looks like I echoed much of what nickthetourist had to say.

I will add, though, that the type of bamboo you chose (vertical grain) will definitely "dent" more easily than the strand-woven type. This is not a finish issue, it's just the relative softness of the bamboo. So expect to see dog scratches and high-heel marks and chairs-dragged-across-the-floor marks. If that's the kind of wear you're looking to prevent, put socks on the dog and pads on the chairs. And ditch your high heels (they're bad for your posture anyway. ;-)
posted by killy willy at 10:37 PM on October 30, 2009

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