Now that you have chosen your solid bamboo flooring, you are probably very anxious to see it installed. But before you strap on your tool bag, there are a few preliminary steps you need to take to ensure a smooth installation and many years of enjoyment.
The following information is generic, but nonetheless important. It deals with areas that you need to be familiar with before starting your installation. Of course, your particular flooring manufacturer is the ultimate source for complete pre-installation information.
If your flooring will be glued directly to a concrete slab, make sure the slab is flat, clean, and dry. A moisture test is recommended. Refer to the flooring manufacturer’s instructions for details. Also, for this type of installation most manufacturers suggest using a high quality, urethane wood floor adhesive, like Bostik’s Best.
Plywood, 5/8” or thicker, is the most common sub-flooring material. Most manufacturers recommend installing it with screws to joists 16 inches on center. Wood sub-flooring must also be flat, clean, and dry, and moisture testing should be done per the flooring manufacturer’s instructions. If the sub-flooring is installed over a crawlspace, most manufacturers recommend placing a moisture barrier of 4 to 6 mil polyurethane sheeting over the soil.
Acclimating bamboo flooring to its installation environment is critical for dimensional stability. Most manufacturers recommend placing solid bamboo planking in the room where it will be installed for 2-3 days prior to installation. The room temperature should be at a normal comfort level, and the boxes should be open. However, variations exist, so always refer to your flooring manufacturer’s instructions for details.
The following information provides an overview of the common methods used to install solid bamboo flooring. For best results, the glue-down method is recommended.
Solid bamboo flooring can be installed by nailing, stapling, or gluing. The nailing and stapling methods require special equipment and a certain amount of expertise. If you are not familiar with this type of equipment, it would be a good idea to leave it to the pros. The gluing method is a much easier and safer method for do-it-yourselfers. However, if the nailing or stapling method is used, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for details.
No professional would start a building or remodeling job without a blueprint, and neither should the do-it-yourselfer. Fortunately, you don’t need an architect’s drawing, just a piece of graph paper to layout a scale diagram of your floor. From this sketch you can easily determine the number of flooring planks needed for the job. Most manufacturers recommend leaving a 1/2” expansion space between the flooring and the walls, so be sure to indicate the recommended spacing on your sketch.
Since bamboo has natural color variations, you will first want to sort through the material and decide how to distribute the contrasts before selecting the planks for the starter row. Some manufacturers recommend installing the planking parallel to the longest wall and others recommend installing it perpendicular to the joists. Consult the manufacturer of your flooring for the recommended method.
Snap a chalk line on the sub-floor to make a reference mark for the starter row. The mark should be away from the wall will by a distance equal to the width of the planking, plus the tongue, plus the expansion space. For example: with a plank width of 4”, a tongue width of 1/4”, and an expansion space of 1/2”, the reference mark would be 4 ¾” away from the wall.
Place spacers between the wall and starter row to maintain the expansion space. Align the tongue edge of the planks with the reference mark and secure them to the sub-floor according to your choice of installation method.
Use a tapping block – a scrap piece of flooring will work – to carefully join the groove edge of the second row with the tongue edge of the starter row. Secure each plank in place as you go and repeat the process until the job is finished. Manufacturers recommend offsetting end splices of consecutive rows by a minimum of six inches to achieve the best appearance.