There are three main ways to install strand woven bamboo flooring. They are as follows:
- Floating installation.
- Directly gluing the bamboo flooring to a concrete subfloor.
- Nailing or stapling the bamboo to a subfloor.
All three methods are relatively easy. This versatility makes strand woven bamboo flooring ideal for people who enjoy DIY.
Before you begin there is one important thing to remember. You must open the box containing the strand woven bamboo flooring and let the planks acclimatize to the temperature and humidity of the room where the bamboo flooring is going to be laid for between 42 to 78 hours.
Floating Installation on concrete
With the floating installation method on concrete you first place down pieces of underlay or use one piece of underlay that is cut to size. You then start at the furthest end of the room (for horizontal flooring) and start laying down the bamboo planks. Fit the planks together so the tongues and grooves firmly interlock. Use a rubber mallet to knock the pieces tightly together. The same process is used for vertical flooring only you will start at a wall that is either to the left or right of the door.
Before starting each row of planks put a thin line of glue along the tongue of the planks.
More than likely the planks will be shorter than the length or width of the room. This means you will have to measure the gap between the end of plank and the wall. Then cut a piece of bamboo plank to size and use a pry bar to fit the piece into place. If the piece remaining is longer than 8 inches then use it to start the next row of bamboo planks. This creates a better look to the flooring and reduces wastage.
Strand woven bamboo flooring like hardwood is a natural product that ‘breathes’. As a consequence of this you need to use spacers to allow for the expansion of the planks. Lay spacers against your starting wall and at each end of of a row of planks.
Allow 12 hours for the glue to dry.
Here’s a youtube video showing this method:
Quick lock bamboo flooring comes in rectangular pieces with a thin piece of underlay glued on. Each piece has a series of ‘teeth’ that make it easy to lock the pieces together. This is the very easiest way to install bamboo flooring. Quick lock bamboo flooring looks, in my opinion, very flimsy. Have a look at the video:
Directly gluing the bamboo flooring to a concrete subfloor
With this method it is very important to first ascertain if the concrete sub-floor is damp in any way. If the concrete is in any way damp then the bamboo will warp over time. One method to check the concrete for dampness is to simply feel the concrete with your hand, a more precise method, however, is to buy a dampness test kit. For this reason it is advisable to never glue strand woven bamboo flooring directly onto a concrete sub floor in a basement.
If dampness is found then apply a waterproofing mastic with a trowel.
Once the mastic has been given time to dry then you install the strand woven bamboo flooring in a similar way to with a floating installation. You place spacers against your starting wall. Be sure to have the groove against the wall and the tongue facing away from the wall. With this type of installation you put glue on the tongue to hold the bamboo flooring together AND you put glue on the underside of each plank to attach it to the floor.
If the floor is slightly rough as opposed to smooth then the glue will form a stronger bond between the strand woven bamboo and the floor.
As with before, when you have a gap because one plank doesn’t stretch across (or along) one room then measure the gap with a tape measure and use a rip saw to cut a piece of strand woven bamboo plank to size. Use a pry bar to get the cut piece in place. Use the left over piece of the cut bamboo plank to start the new row of flooring if it is longer than 8 inches. This creates a more interesting pattern to the flooring and cuts down on wastage,
Remember to put spacers at either end of a row of bamboo planks.
Allow the glue to dry before using the room and putting out furniture. Drying usually takes 72 hours
A low VOC adhesive that is free of formaldehyde is the best glue option.
Nailing the bamboo flooring to a subfloor
With this method you will need to have a nail gun. First place a subfloor on the concrete or floor joists.
To make a sub-floor you need to first clean the concrete or joists. Next check to see if the concrete is damp. If it is then it is important to apply a mastic to the concrete with a trowel to seal the concrete. Then lay down a moisture barrier. A moisture barrier is usually a 6mm sheet of plastic. If you use more than one sheet to cover the floor then overlap the sheets by 3 feet. Duct tape the sheets together.
Lay 1/2 inch CDX-KD plywood in strips along the floor. Allow an 1/8 inch gap between the plywood planks. Use a spirit level to make sure the subfloor is flat and on a level as you progress. Use a tape measure to find out how long you need the plywood planks to be and cut to them to size with a 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. Now you are ready to lay the strand woven bamboo flooring over the subfloor.
Lay a row of strand woven bamboo planks either vertically or horizontally in the room. Next go along the bamboo plank witha nail gun and drive in nails at an angle of 45 degrees into the tongue of the bamboo plank. You should put a nail every meter or so along the bamboo plank. Once that is done start another row. Lock the new row into the laid row using the tongue and groove joints. Use a rubber mallet to make sure the two planks are firmly locked together. Then nail down the next row of bamboo planks.
To use a nail gun, place the right angle over the edge of the bamboo plank. Place your foot on the nail gun to hold it in place and then use a rubber mallet to hit the top of the nail gun. This drives the nail into place. Here’s a good video demonstrating how to use a nail gun: