How To: Address a Problem With Bamboo Flooring
Q In April 2008, we had EcoTimber bamboo flooring installed in our kitchen and hallway. When the humidity increases, the flooring in our entryway and hall buckles. In addition, rather large gaps (enough to collect dirt) have appeared in the kitchen between the floorboards. Our contractor returned twice to make adjustments, with the results being temporary at best. Then he called a rep at EcoTimber, who said the company is no longer offering this particular brand of bamboo because of installation issues. This was expensive flooring, and we want to get our money's worth. Do you have any suggestions on how to correct this problem?
A Dan Gerrity, EcoTimber's regional sales rep in the mid-Atlantic, suggests that you file a formal claim with the company. That will trigger an inspection to assess the problem, which could be a manufacturing issue, an installation issue or a condition in your house, such as excessive moisture moving up from the basement or crawl space. Even though the flooring was installed a year and a half ago, EcoTimber has a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects, and buckling would fall in that category if the cause is the flooring itself. Obviously, you'd want your contractor to be at your house during the EcoTimber visit.
If you, the company and the contractor don't agree on the assessment, the next step would be to hire an independent flooring inspector, who for perhaps $275 would do a fairly scientific analysis, including measuring moisture and gaps. EcoTimber usually pays for this if the flooring came from a company that also installs; you or the contractor would probably need to pay if you hired the contractor on your own. Gerrity says the results usually pinpoint who's at fault, but if there is no resolution, you can use the report to take the matter to small claims court.
EcoTimber did discontinue engineered bamboo flooring, which has a thin bamboo layer over a wood-fiber base. Edges of the bamboo tended to fray because of the different expansion rates of the bamboo (a grass) and the wood, not the problem you describe. If you installed this type of flooring, the buckling in the hallway might be caused by an inadequate expansion gap along the edges, an installation issue. If the problem is excessive moisture in the subfloor, you might need to spread plastic over the floor of your crawl space or deal with basement moisture.
Send home-improvement questions to Jeanne Huber at email@example.com.