How to Install Bamboo Flooring on Top of a Wood Subfloor
So you’ve weighed all the pros and cons of bamboo flooring, chosen your perfect material, and now you’re ready to install it. Follow the guide below to learn how to install bamboo on a wood subfloor, and you’ll have brand new floors in no time!
Note: THE FOLLOWING IS A GUIDELINE ONLY. CAREFULLY READ THE MANUFACTURER’S INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS THAT COME WITH YOUR PRODUCT BEFORE BEGINNING THE INSTALLATION.
How to Install Bamboo on a Wood Subfloor
Before you order flooring, make sure you add at least 5% to the actual area size you are going to cover. The industry standard for allowable small defects, mis-milling or mis-grading is 5%.
Read the Manufacturer’s Warranty carefully before installing the product.
As a general rule, all installed strips will be considered accepted by the installer and/or homeowner. So, sort through the product first before installing to ensure it meets your expectations. You cannot return planks once they are installed!
- Gypsum joints must be completed and dried.
- Concrete work must have been completed at least 45 days prior to installation.
- The heating system must be functional and the building must be heated up to 21°C (70°F) for a minimum of 7 days immediately prior to installation.
- The relative humidity of the building must be between 40% and 45%.
- Plywood humidity (subfloor) must not exceed 12%.
- Subfloor thickness must be a minimum of ¾”
- Particle boards or chipboards must not be used as the subfloor.
**Do not install bamboo flooring that has not been properly acclimatized to humidity conditions. Recommended acclimatizing time is 7 days minimum in rooms where the flooring will be installed. Try to disperse flooring as much as possible. If this is not possible, make smaller stacks, break boxes, and open ends. Before starting installation, check moisture content on several randomly picked samples.
- Make sure the wood subfloor (plywood) is properly attached to the joists to avoid creaking.
- Correct slight irregularities on the subfloor with a sander.
- All the nails and screws of the subfloor must be driven in properly.
- Remove baseboards and doorsills.
- Cut 2cm (9/16”) off the bottom of the doorframes to insert the strips underneath them.
- Vacuum the subfloor regularly during installation to make sure it is always clean and dust free.
- A vapor barrier or felt paper (#15) placed between the subfloor and the strips will help keep the humidity content of the flooring more stable.
- 1 ¼” minimum length, 15-gage nails, or staples are recommended to fasten the floor.
Tools & Materials
- Measuring tape
- Miter saw
- Chalk line
- Vacuum cleaner
- Drill and drill bits
- Safety goggles
- Nail punch
- Hardwood hammer (manual or pneumatic) and rubber hammer
Other tools and accessories may be necessary depending on site configuration and type of installation.
Step One: Size up the room.
Locate the longest wall of the room where the product will be installed. This wall must be perpendicular to the joists. The flooring strips must be installed perpendicularly to the joists.
Step Two: Allow for an expansion joint.
Allow for a 13mm to 19mm (1/2” to 3/4”) expansion joint between the wall and the flooring strips. This joint will be hidden by a baseboard or quarter round.
Step Three: Plot out your course.
Draw a guide line with a chalk line. The guide line must be parallel to the wall. Calculate its distance from the wall as follows: expansion joint + strip flooring width + tongue width.
Step Four: Begin the first row.
Nail the first row by drilling holes on top of the strips first. The holes must be drilled 13mm (1/2”) from the side of the strip and 25cm (10”) from center to center. Also, drill holes on top of the tongue at a 45 degree angle. Using spiral roll shank nails, fix the first row of strips making sure you are aligned with the chalk line. Use a nail punch to hide the nails properly.
Step Five: Drill hole on the top of the tongue.
For the second row, drill holes on top of the tongue at a 45 degree angle and nail it with spiral roll shank nails. Use a nail punch to hide the nails properly.
Step Six: Cut the ends to the correct length.
To end a row, cut the strip at the correct length and use the remainder of the strip to start the next row. Do not forget to leave sufficient space for the expansion joint at the end of each row.
Step Seven: Avoid aligning end joints.
Make sure you carefully choose the strips to avoid aligning the end joints with those of adjacent rows. A minimum of 15cm (6”) must be allowed to avoid aligning the end joints.
Step Eight: Use hardwood hammer for subsequent rows.
Install subsequent rows using the hardwood hammer while respecting the rules for alignment joints and expansion joints. Nail the strips every 6” to 8”.
Step Nine: Once you reach the opposing wall, repeat step five.
When installing the last 4 or 5 rows, use of a hardwood hammer will not be possible because of the proximity of the adjacent wall. Proceed in the same way as you did for the second row at the beginning of installation.
Step Ten: Cut the last row.
You may have to cut the last row lengthwise. Fix it in the same way you did for the first row, that is, from the top.
Step Eleven: Touch up imperfections.
Once installation of the strips is completed, use a touch-up pen to fill nail holes and correct other imperfections.
- When you install bamboo on a wood subfloor, it requires more care than a conventional floor to prevent damaging the floor’s finish during installation. Frequent use of a vacuum cleaner during installation is highly recommended to eliminate saw dust and wood chips.
- Place your tools on the plywood or on a piece of cardboard rather than directly on the hardwood floor.
- Verify frequently that the hardwood hammer works properly and make sure its base is clean. If the base is damaged or rough, place tape underneath it to protect your floor’s finish.
- To better hide the expansion joint around the room, cut the gypsum so that the wood can use that space as an expansion joint.
- Make sure the hardwood hammer is resting properly against the side of the strip before nailing. Inadequate positioning may damage the strips.
- If a nail is not driven in completely, use a nail punch and a conventional hammer.
- Save remaining strips after installation and store them in a proper place for future repairs.
- Use non-wax flooring cleaner to keep your floor in good condition. Use of conventional, domestic cleaners may permanently damage your floor’s finish.
- Never clean your bamboo floor with a wet mop or cloth. Water and wood are natural enemies.
- Do not wax your bamboo floor.
- Vacuum your floor frequently to eliminate the presence of solid particles (such as sand) which may damage and/or scratch your floor.
- Place protective felt underneath your furniture to protect your floor. Clean the felt regularly and replace it when necessary.
- When moving heavy furniture (fridge, piano, etc.), place a thick rug underneath furniture legs before moving.