Cali Bamboo floor build thread

redwoodcruiser

New member
Over the next few weekends in January, I will be installing my floor in the sprinter. This is one of the most important phases of the build for me, so I have taken my time to select various materials and decide what I want. That said, if I'm missing something please point it out.

I have a 2017 170 sprinter cargo van. It is silver exterior. I am mounting two two-seater Ford Transit seats facing each other behind the driver's seat. I am currently working through getting those seats mounted to the floor, such that the click-in rails are flush with the planned wood floor described below. Basic idea is shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maYBdTEbUrI

It will consist of the following "stackup":

-Glue down 5/4"x 1.75" spruce wood pre-primed battens running lengthwise with a couple areas running width-wise. I bought 5/4 x 4 which is really 1" x 3.5" and I will rip them in half for approximately 1.75" width and 1" height.
-1" Owens Corning XPS foam board between the battens
-Tape all joints for complete moisture barrier
-Replace the factory floor but screw down to the battens
-Caulk around edges and at joints so subfloor is completely sealed from above.
-Glue down with 3M spray glue 1/4" black cross-linked polyethelene 2-LB foam for sound deadening and more insulation, and will be underlayment for bamboo floor.
-Put down cali bamboo hardwood floor, (.5625" thick). I chose to go with the "Boardwalk" color shown HERE, because I found some on craigslist for 50% off retail, new in box. I will float the floor, but glue down transition pieces just behind the front seats, at the very rear, and stair nose molding at the step by the sliding door. Once all cabinetry is added later I will likely finish the remaining side edges with 1/4 round. I don't think I will do anything to the cab area slanted flooring or the driver/passenger footwell, I'll leave the rubberized gray flooring there and put down a set of mats.

This should add up to a 2.3125" increase in height, give or take a few hundredths, with an estimated R value of 6.5 total. Not the greatest insulation but don't want to give up any more headroom.



There are three things I haven't fully decided on:

1) Is there any reason not to use the factory floor? It seems just as good as putting down 1/2" plywood, and since it is already dimensioned for the floor I don't need to trace and cut sheets of plywood so it takes a lengthy step out of the process. Will it crack or crumble?

2) What adhesive should I use to glue down the wood battens to the metal floor? Thinking just some kind of liquid nails type stuff, but any suggestions appreciated. Home Depot recommends Loctite PL300 foam board adhesive for the insulation, I'm guessing something stronger would be better for the battens.

3) Is caulking the edges a bad idea? What kind of caulk should I use?

That's about it. I'll be updating this thread with photos of the whole process as I go. Wish me luck!
 
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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
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There are three things I haven't fully decided on:

1) Is there any reason not to use the factory floor? It seems just as good as putting down 1/2" plywood, and since it is already dimensioned for the floor I don't need to trace and cut sheets of plywood so it takes a lengthy step out of the process. Will it crack or crumble?
In my limited experience with my 2004 cargo and 2006 T1N I feel that the OEM flooring is very good quality, stable material. I would just plan to use it.

...
2) What adhesive should I use to glue down the wood battens to the metal floor? Thinking just some kind of liquid nails type stuff, but any suggestions appreciated. Home Depot recommends Loctite PL300 foam board adhesive for the insulation, I'm guessing something stronger would be better for the battens.
...
I don't really like regular panel adhesive for use with metal. I have had some problems with adhesion. It may have been the particular product. I would use an RV type adhesive/sealant.

...
3) Is caulking the edges a bad idea? What kind of caulk should I use?

...
:idunno:
I have used sealant around some areas of my travel trailer floor. It does seal the edges to make dirt buildup less of a problem. I used urethane adhesive/sealant. I wouldn't use latex caulk.

:cheers: vic
 

redwoodcruiser

New member
When you say you would use an RV type adhesive/sealant, what do you mean by that? Sorry, just haven't used anything in this RV yet except 3M spray on stuff.
 

SprinterSnale

'05 T1N 3500 - NorCalSprinterCampout
I used the stock floor for many years untouched, meaning I did not pull it up and add any foil, foam or insulation underneath. It worked great as it is non slip and handles wet from snow, beach and scrubbing. This floor is superior to the the 3/4 plywood of my previous box truck and makes a great base for a finished floor.

Two years ago I added bamboo flooring from Lumber Liquidators over the top of stock floor with a roll of that styrofoam sheeting for laminate flooring in between. No adhesives. Secured at side and rear door with aluminum angle and screws into original floor. The cargo divider prevents it from slipping forward but the aluminum angle would do the same at the cab transition. I did not caulk the required edge gaps and vacuum periodically.

After researching the complexities of pulling the floor to insulate beneath and the fact cabinets and tanks were already in place, I opted to leave the original floor as originally installed (rivited). It's a West Coast van. and like my house, does not have an insulated floor either. Both cases, I chose to focus on the ceiling and walls.

The bamboo flooring looks inviting and cozy, more like an RV than a cargo van. We like it. But note, it is very slippery compared to original floor. The dog, and anything unsecured, slides while braking, My person has slipped and slid 10 feet inside the van while parked on an uncomfortable 20 percent grade. Real wood has a higher static friction coefficient.

The other issue with my bamboo laminate is that scratches easily leaving white lines in the dark brown finish. In hindsite, I would get a solid hardwood flooring so sctaches would be sandable and blend in better. My bad for believing the flooring salesman's optimism to my first question. The bamboo is about as heavy as hardwood adding to laminate remorse. With a little patience, I reckon great deals on hardwood floor could be found as a reminant from Habitat for Humanity or a contractor on Craigslist.

 
Another issue with bamboo flooring is the source of the material.

If sourced from China, the toxic adhesives they use with the well known outgassing properties should be considered before putting them into such a closed environment.

This applies to most plywood too. Any plywood I have used had been sitting around for years in my shop. Solid wood is the healthier option when possible. Screws and construction adhesive make for a good bond. There are formaldehyde free plywood choices that should be considered for our vans.

If was using an outfitter, this would be a primary requirement.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
If sourced from China, the toxic adhesives they use with the well known outgassing properties should be considered before putting them into such a closed environment.

This applies to most plywood too. Any plywood I have used had been sitting around for years in my shop. Solid wood is the healthier option when possible. Screws and construction adhesive make for a good bond. There are formaldehyde free plywood choices that should be considered for our vans.
I have a lot of plywood in my conversion. When you are 79 years old the long term effects of any toxic adhesives on my life expectancy will not be an issue. I do not plan on eating any of the plywood.
 
Dave, just breathing the well known outgassing is up to each and to his own. You don't have to eat it in order to ingest it. Hurricane Katrina trailers being the prime example.

Some are more sensitive than others. You appear to not be one of them. Good for you. My purpose was only to inform of the realities of using certain products in the closed environment of our Sprinters and trying to make better choices.
 

redwoodcruiser

New member
Cali bamboo is ethically sourced and meets all requirements for flooring toxicity in the U.S. Their website goes into fairly extensive detail about this. Additionally, bamboo in general is much more ethical than hardwood harvesting. I picked up the boards today from the guy on craigslist. They are gorgeous. I can't wait to get this stuff down. SprinterSnale, thanks for the photo of your step area. I plan to do what you did and line the step, but I will be using bullnose trim on the step interior and probably 1/4 round on the side facing piece.
 

lindenengineering

Well-known member
I have bamboo in my house on the ground floors.
Drawback is cracking in dry weather and it scratches easily--so no shoes in the van "Glasshoppah!"
Dennis
 

tinman

Active member
I heard recently from a family member whose bamboo flooring was destroyed by a water line leak that it is no longer being installed in their area (west coast), I believe because of poor dimensional stability. That might not be an issue with a floating floor in an RV, although I would expect wide variations in humidity.
 

redwoodcruiser

New member
Not trying to sound rude, but bamboo is absolutely being installed on the west coast, from Seattle to San Diego. It is one of the top selling flooring materials over the last 5 years. Not sure exactly where you mean by "in their area." I'm guessing a particular contractor has beef with their flooring. Inexpensive imported flooring might be more problematic than some others. Either way, I agree, floating the floor will allow for variations in humidity. My case will require some consideration for the fore to aft portion because I plan to glue down transition pieces at the front and back, which will act as walls would in a house. Maybe I will just glue them to the actual flooring at the joint but not glue them down to the floor. In the case of the sliding door step area, I don't want any of those pieces moving on me so I will be gluing them down. I think if the floor is floating and can expand in 3 directions and a lot of the 4th direction, I will be good. I wouldn't expect more than 1/4"-3/8" of expansion, so that's the average gap I'll leave using standard floor to wall wedges.

Almost done with my holiday vacation house bathroom tile project, if I work on it this week after work it won't bleed into next weekend and I can focus on the van, which is what I really want to be working on!
 

kristy26

New member
I have bamboo in my house on the ground floors.
Drawback is cracking in dry weather and it scratches easily--so no shoes in the van "Glasshoppah!"
Dennis
I think you wouldn't buy the right bamboo flooring because at my house I installed bamboo flooring in my two-floor house from the previous 4years I didn't face this type of problem. Even today flooring is looks like newly installed.
 

borabora

Active member
I floated Pergo on top of the factory floor of my 2016 2500. The factory floor is a composite that resembles the material of a sturdy gym mat. I nailed down 2" trim at edges using a nail gun (nailing only into the Pergo) using, I think, 3/8" brads. In places like the step I used L-shaped trim and again brads into the Pergo. I am neither a super do-it-yourselfer nor extremely picky about looks. As far as I am concerned it looks great and has so far proven sturdy and easy to clean. I was worried that the entire floor would shift over time but I can tell by looking at edges that it hasn't. I have done a basic build with a platform bed and simple electric and water systems -- not a home-built RV. The floor might be the most professional looking part of my build. Certainly best bang for the buck.
I like bamboo as well but when selecting material bamboo was pricier and I was worried about spill resistance and the ability to take brads without splitting.
 

borabora

Active member
I just realized that I replied to a 3 year old thread. But, hey, maybe someone is still contemplating floating a floor on top of a factory floor...
 

GJACK

Member
May be an old thread, but old comments need to be addressed regarding plywood emissions. Emission requirements were in place before "jcmadeintheshade" assessment on plywood emissions.

Even though emission requirements were in place, remember what happened to Lumber Liquidators when they sold off grade Chinese flooring (plywood). If the flooring made with plywood is American made (very good quality and available anywhere) you can be guaranteed it will meet emission requirements which are mandated by law. Most all Chinese plywood imported into the U.S. will meet the low emitting standards now days and the likely hood of a bad actor out there is minimal (thanks lumber liquidators). The standards for raw particleboard and MDF are not quite as stringent as for interior grade plywood, however, they are usually covered with some sort of impermeable coating.

Almost all exterior grade plywood will typically utilize phenol formaldehyde adhesive which does not degrade (hydrolyze) in the presence of moisture and heat. Almost all marine and exterior sheathing are made with these types of adhesives. The glue-line is a dark purple color. Formaldehyde emissions from these adhesives is no higher than what is naturally emitted by the wood itself, and will be much less than formaldehyde emitted from your propane stove if used in a camper. Do not worry about exterior plywood if you are concerned about volatile organic emissions such as formaldehyde. Be more worried about walking in downtown LA, NYC, Denver etc. as background formaldehyde emissions and other VOCs are greater there than in rural areas and greater than inside a Van built with exterior plywood. Most interior plywood is not made with phenol formaldehyde because of the dark glue-line. Do your research on interior plywood if concerned about emissions since these require different types of adhesives as there are a variety of adhesives utilized by plywood manufacturers. Interior plywood (prior to "jcmadeintheshade" post) yields emissions close to background levels as mandated by law (background defined as ambient air with caveat of excluding downtown) if manufactured with a formaldehyde based adhesive. Ventilation is the key to reducing all types of pollutants you may encounter in tight closed living areas regardless of the source (hence; MaxAir Fan).
 

GJACK

Member
Botched up the quote above;
Even though emission requirements were in place, remember what happened to Lumber Liquidators when they sold off grade Chinese flooring (plywood). If the flooring made with plywood is American made (very good quality and available anywhere) you can be guaranteed it will meet emission requirements which are mandated by law. Most all Chinese plywood imported into the U.S. will meet the low emitting standards now days and the likely hood of a bad actor out there is minimal (thanks lumber liquidators). The standards for raw particleboard and MDF are not quite as stringent as for interior grade plywood, however, they are usually covered with some sort of impermeable coating.

Almost all exterior grade plywood will typically utilize phenol formaldehyde adhesive which does not degrade (hydrolyze) in the presence of moisture and heat. Almost all marine and exterior sheathing are made with these types of adhesives. The glue-line is a dark purple color. Formaldehyde emissions from these adhesives is no higher than what is naturally emitted by the wood itself, and will be much less than formaldehyde emitted from your propane stove if used in a camper. Do not worry about exterior plywood if you are concerned about volatile organic emissions such as formaldehyde. Be more worried about walking in downtown LA, NYC, Denver etc. as background formaldehyde emissions and other VOCs are greater there than in rural areas and greater than inside a Van built with exterior plywood. Most interior plywood is not made with phenol formaldehyde because of the dark glue-line. Do your research on interior plywood if concerned about emissions since these require different types of adhesives as there are a variety of adhesives utilized by plywood manufacturers. Interior plywood (prior to "jcmadeintheshade" post) yields emissions close to background levels as mandated by law (background defined as ambient air with caveat of excluding downtown) if manufactured with a formaldehyde based adhesive. Ventilation is the key to reducing all types of pollutants you may encounter in tight closed living areas regardless of the source (hence; MaxAir Fan).
 

4wheeldog

2018 144" Tall Revel
I think you wouldn't buy the right bamboo flooring because at my house I installed bamboo flooring in my two-floor house from the previous 4years I didn't face this type of problem. Even today flooring is looks like newly installed.
It depends on where you live, and how much the humidity varies.
Where I live, we commonly have humidity levels in the single digits. Wood floors develop gaps during those periods, that close back up when the humidity gets back above 20%.
 

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