How to Install Bamboo Flooring

Looking for information on how to install bamboo flooring? Or considering doing DIY and home building or decorating projects with bamboo?

This section of the site provides useful information and resources for you. There are several methods of fitting floors so for DIYers it's worth thinking about doing your own floor installation.

Choose a suitable type of floor to follow your interior design requirements and the type of room. Bamboo floors come in different thicknesses, lengths, widths, patterns and colours, so you have plenty to choose from to fit in with your specifications.

One of the first things to take note of when installing bamboo flooring is looking for colour variation. Variations in colour will occur naturally in bamboo. You should therefore inspect every box and take account of any colour differences.

You can make these differences less noticeable if you stagger the pieces throughout the entire floor area as opposed to laying them one box after another.

This method also provides you with an opportunity to discover any pieces that may have more character than others. You may want to lay particularly nice planks in a place more visible than somewhere that will be hidden under furniture.

Preparation

While considering how to install bamboo flooring, be aware that extreme changes in temperature can sometimes effect bamboo materials. It is recommended to acclimatise the flooring at normal room temperature and humidity levels in the place it is to be laid. Bring it into the area, or somewhere of the same temperature, remove all wrappings and stack it for a minimum of 3 days before installation.

The same goes for any adhesive you are going to use too. Optimum conditions are considered to be 70 degrees fahrenheit at 30-50 percent humidity but this should be treated a guide and localised conditions accounted for.

This will ensure the material is acclimatised to the conditions prior to laying the floor. As with any other type of floor you should ensure the installation conditions are dry and do not consider installation in areas prone to damp such as basements as this may lead to problems with your floor in the future.

To prepare the way for laying the new floor, remove the old carpet or other floor covering, and any edge strips and underlay. Sweep or vacuumed the concrete slab base.

Make sure you are installing your floor on a clean, smooth and dry surface. Preparation of the base surface can make a huge difference to the quality of the finished installation.

Check the concrete to ensure it is flat and free from low areas, dips and bumps, and fill or scrape as necessary. It is recommended that a 10ft radius should have a maximum variation of 1/8 of an inch. You should also ensure that the surface is free from grease, oils, solvents, grit and dust, and is smooth.

If you install bamboo flooring on a concrete subfloor you must check the concrete for moisture content first using a standard moisture meter. This is particularly applicable if the concrete slab was laid within the previous 60 days as this is generally considered to be too freshly laid for a sufficient curing period prior to installation.

A young concrete slab will most likely be too wet so be sure to carry out a moisture test. Do not commence installation if the relative humidity inside of the concrete slab exceeds 75%.

How to Lay Bamboo Flooring

The floor can be laid on a board sub floor such as three quarter inch CDX underlayment graded plywood using nails and/or oil based glue (water based glue may make the boards swell if they absorb the moisture). The base surface/subfloor must therefore be flat, clean, dry, and strong/sturdy enough to support nails and glue.

The floor will be more stable if fully adhered or hidden/secret nailed to the board sub floor. Although it is possible to float it on to a wood floor underlay, this is considered a bit of a risk as any movement in the floor will cause the boards to drift and/or the glued joint to break down.

Bamboo flooring boards should be nailed in directly above the tongue at a 45 or 50 degree angle. Make a hole before nailing to ensure you do not crack the board or tongue (the same method as used for wood flooring).

Do not place nails closer than 2 inches from the end of the plank to avoid splitting it. You need to fasten each plank in minimum of two places and with a spacing of 8-10 inches being ideal.

Once you have secured a starter row, the use of a quality professional floor nail gun at the correct settings is recommended for blind nailing additional rows. Splitting and/or cracking of tongues and planks results from the use of improper equipment. Always test on a scrap piece first!

Lay the floor planks square with the walls and parallel to the longest dimension of the space. Leave a gap of 1/2 and inch around the perimeter to allow for expansion and determine a suitable space, or gap, between lacquered floor boards according to your localised weather conditions. For example, if you live in a humid region it is advised to install the boards with enough gap between them to allow for possible expansion.

The boards are cut to size on site and PVA glue is used when fitting the tongues and grooves of the boards into place. Any excess glue can be easily wiped off with a damp sponge. Certainly do not leave excess glue to dry on the boards.

It is possible to install bamboo flooring in a day in most cases. Pre-finished boards can then be walked over immediately.

Finishing Touches

If there is a need to sand the floor check that the the wear surface is thick enough to withstand a sanding operation using a belt sander before you do it. If it isn't, you should only give it a light sanding by hand just to smooth away any discrepancies after the installation work. Always sand along the length of the grain as sanding across the grain may leave scratches on the surface.

Bamboos can be stained any colour. Keep it in mind that a solid colour finish will not be assured due to the natural lighter and darker colour variations that occur throughout the strips.

Once all the floor boards have been laid, bamboo skirting boards can be glued and nailed in place for that finishing touch.

Finally, after reading the above guide on how to install bamboo flooring, don't forget to investigate tips on care and cleaning of your floor and the products recommended.

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