Engineered bamboo flooring was originally manufactured for nail-down, staple-down, and glue-down installations. But the invention of no-glue, click-together systems has changed the manufacturing trend. Today, most manufacturers produce engineered bamboo flooring only for floated installation by the new plank-joining systems.
Floated installation provides many benefits. First of all, it is less expensive – no nails, staples, or adhesive to buy, and no special equipment to purchase or rent. Then there is the flooring’s ability to adapt to temperature and humidity changes. All wood and wood-like flooring absorbs and releases moisture. If it is installed by a fixed installation method, it has the potential of becoming damaged under extreme humidity conditions. High levels of humidity can cause the flooring to expand and cup, and low levels can cause it to shrink and separate.
With the floated installation method, the planking is not anchored to the sub-floor. Because of this and the flexibility of the click-together joints, the flooring is free to expand or contract during weather changes without any adverse affects.
As with other flooring, certain preliminary steps need to be done prior to installation.
All flooring manufacturers have requirements and recommendations for pre-installation. Precisely following their instructions is highly recommended. Failure to do so could result in future problems and could even void your warranty. The following information is generic and offered to help you organize your flooring project. Always refer to your flooring manufacturer for detailed information.
Engineered bamboo flooring can be floated directly over a concrete slab, but the slab must first be prepared. It must be flat, clean, and dry, and a moisture content test is recommended. Follow the flooring manufacturer’s testing recommendations. Manufacturers also recommend placing a moisture barrier over the concrete, usually 6 mil polyurethane sheeting.
Another benefit of floated installations is that the engineered flooring can be installed over virtually any other flooring material. However, carpeting and felt coverings would need to be removed. Like concrete slabs, sub-floors must be flat, clean, and dry, and firmly secured to the joists. Prior to installation, the sub-flooring will need to be covered with a polyethylene foam underlayment. The underlayment will serve as a moisture barrier, sound reducer, and cushion for the new flooring. If there are doors that open into the room, make sure that they will clear the installed flooring.
Most manufacturers of engineered bamboo flooring recommend acclimation of the material in the room of installation for 2-3 days with the boxes unopened. The room temperature should be maintained at the normal living level. Refer to your flooring manufacturer’s instructions for more information.
There is no easier installation method than floated with the no-glue, click-together systems. In addition to saving you money by not requiring special installation equipment, fasteners, or adhesive, you’ll also save a lot of installation time.
Before you purchase your flooring, it would be wise to make a sketch of your project idea. Using standard graph paper, draw a scale outline of the installation site floor plan. From the plan, you can calculate how many boxes of flooring to purchase. This will save you the time of returning excess material, or worse yet, discovering near the end of your project that you need to order more. While you’re drawing your plan, keep in mind that most manufacturers recommend leaving a 1/2” space between the outer edges of the flooring and walls, cabinets, or other fixed objects.
Bamboo has natural color variations that will need to be distributed evenly. Open and sort a few boxes at a time and mix the variations as you install them. This will give your floor the best appearance when the job is finished.
Another point to consider for aesthetics is the direction of your planking. Most manufacturers recommend installing the planks parallel to the longest wall.
Using spacers to maintain the expansion space, begin by laying the first plank in a corner with the long grooved side toward the long wall. Connect the short side of the second plank together with the mating side of the first plank, per the manufacturer’s instructions. Cut the last plank as indicated in the manufacturer’s instructions and complete the row. Use the remaining piece to start the second row. Be sure to offset the end splices of consecutive rows by a minimum of six inches for the best finished appearance. Continue the second row by connecting the short edges of the planks first then the long edges.
The last row may require rip cutting the planks to size. Remember to cut enough to create the expansion space. As with the other rows, connect the short edges first then use a pull bar to tap the long edges together.