Installation of bamboo flooring

There are three main ways to install bamboo flooring into your home. They are:
  • A floating installation on underlay
  • Nailing or stapling the bamboo flooring onto a subfloor
  • Gluing the bamboo flooring directly to the concrete
It is important with any installation of strand woven bamboo flooring to leave the bamboo flooring in the room you are planning to lay it in for AT LEAST 48 HOURS. Bamboo is a 'natural' material and needs time to acclimatize. To further aid this acclimatization process it is recommended that you remove the strand woven bamboo flooring from the box.

Of all the three installation processes available to you, the best is nailing or stapling the bamboo flooring to a subfloor. Putting the bamboo flooring onto a subfloor makes the flooring feel warmer under your feet and helps reduce squeaks and movement in the flooring.
    Floating Installation

    This is perhaps the easiest option for a home owner and potential DIY person to attempt by themselves as it requires very few tools. You will need:
    • a rip saw 
    • spacers
    • glue
    • duct tape
    • rubber mallet
    • tape measure
    • pry bar
    • 20% more bamboo planks than is necesary (just in case)
    • Underlayment
    First vacuum the room and then put rectangles of underlay on the concrete or cut one big piece of underlay to a size to fit the room. Duct tape the underlayment together. 

    Then you need to decide whether you want to lay the pieces of strand woven bamboo in a vertical or a horizontal design. If you choose vertical then you start on either the left or right wall (as you are looking from the door). 

    Lay the bamboo floor planks in rows. Place spacers along the  starting wall. The placers are to allow for floor expansion. Also place spacers at either end of a row. Each row should fit tightly into the next if the bamboo planks have tongue and groove joins.  Before adding one row to the next put a continuous line of glue along the tongue. Always keep the tongues facing out and the cut ends against a wall. 

    When you put in the end pieces on a line of bamboo flooring  first cut the piece to the right size and then use a pry bar to join the pieces together. If the piece of bamboo plank remaining is over 8inches long use it to start the next row of bamboo flooring. Use a rubber mallet to knock the bamboo flooring tightly together. 

    The only tricky bits are the last line of planks which will probably have to be cut to fit the remaining space. Also you will need to have a tape measure to get the dimensions right around the door frame. The work should progress quickly once you get the hang of it. 

    It takes 12 hours for the glue to dry.

    Check out the video below for a speeded up version of a floating installation.

    Nailing or Stapling the Bamboo Flooring onto a Subfloor 
    This is more complicated, especially if you need to install the subfloor first. To install a subfloor you will need:
    • a spirit level
    • a rip saw
    • plastic moisture barrier
    • plywood
    • stapler
    • tape measure
    • anti-moisture mastic (optional)
    • trowel
    First clean the concrete floor thoroughly. If it lumpy then you will need a concrete grinding machine to smooth the bumps and lumps.

    Next feel the concrete with your hand and decide if it is moist or not. If it is moist then you will need to apply a mastic with a trowel to the concrete. This will 'waterproof' the concrete and stop the ply wood subfloor from rotting.

    Once the mastic is dried then lay the plastic moisture barrier over the floor and staple it to the wall at a height of about 3 inches. This will be hidden by the subfloor. If the plastic moisture barrier is not big enough to lay in one piece over the floor then overlap separate sheets by at least 3 feet. 

    Lay the 1/2 CDX-KD plywood in strips along the floor. Allow an 1/8 inch gap between the plywood planks. Use the spirit level to make sure the subfloor is flat and on a level as you progress. Use the tape measure to find out how long you need the plywood planks to be and cut to them to size with the rip saw.

    Place a second layer of plywood diagonally across the top of the first layer of plywood. Staple the two layers together. Use a 3/4 inch staple and make sure not to 'pinch' or pierce the moisture barrier.

    That's the subfloor and the hard part done. Now to add the strand woven bamboo flooring over the top of the subfloor. For this you will need:
    • a rip saw
    • a tape measure
    • a nail gun
    • a rubber mallet
    • spacers
    • pry bar
    The process is very similar to installing a floating floor. You can either go for a vertical or a horizontal arrangement.

    Again use spacers along the walls. 

    Again measure the space needed for the end pieces and use a rip saw to cut the length exactly. Then use a prybar to get the end piece in place. Again use the left over piece of the bamboo flooring to start the next line of bamboo flooring.

    Instead of using glue on the tongue you put a staple using a nail gun into the right angle of the tongue. Fire the staple in at a 45 degrees angle. Put a staple every few feet or so into the bamboo tongue. To use the nail gun correctly put your foot on the nail gun and place it over the edge of the bamboo plank. Then hit the top of the nail gun with a rubber mallet to shoot the staple into place. See the video below for how to use a nail gun.

    Before you staple use the rubber mallet to knock the bamboo planks tightly into place.

    Gluing Bamboo Flooring Directly onto concrete

    For this method of installation you will need the following tools and equipment:
    • tape measure
    • rubber mallet
    • adhesive glue (Bostik or Sika adhesives are recommended)
    • rip saw
    • anti-moisture mastic (optional) 
    • trowel
    • spacers
    • pry bar
    First clean the concrete floor well and make sure there are no bumps or lumps in the the concrete. If there are you will need to grind the concrete floor to a smooth finish before you can proceed to lay the strand woven bamboo flooring. Next you it is important to check the concrete to see whether it is damp. Any dampness will quickly ruin the bamboo flooring. If the floor feels damp then use an anti-moisture mastic. Apply the mastic with a trowel.

    Once the mastic is dry then you can proceed to lay the bamboo flooring. This is done in a very similar way to installing a floating floor. 

    Put spacers along the starting wall and use spacers at both ends of each row of bamboo planks. Remember to have the tongue side of the plank facing away from the wall. 

    Lay the first row of bamboo planks. Put the adhesive glue on the underside of each plank before you lay it. If there is a gap in a row of  bamboo planking then measure the gap and cut a piece of plank with a rip saw to fit the space. Use a pry bar to put the cut piece of bamboo plank into the space.

    Use the remaining half of the cut plank to start the next row of planking. Only do this if the remaining piece is longer than 8 inches.

    Use the rubber mallet to tap the planks so they are tightly locked together.

    Allow 12 hours drying time before finishing the flooring.