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Installing Pre-Finished Bamboo Floors Do–It–Yourself (DIY) Guide

Prefinished bamboo flooring is an environmentally–friendly ways to add beauty and value to your home. This installation guide covers all the essential things you'll need to know during your prefinished bamboo installation, including the tools you'll need and how to properly care for and install your floors.

If the short bamboo installation guide isn't detailed enough for you, see the complete Installing Prefinished Bamboo Flooring Guide below in our PDF downloads. This complete guide was written in a way to assist the novice bamboo floor installer.

Download FREE Do–It–Yourself Guides Below

Bamboo Flooring Installation Instructions | PDF's
PDF icon for PDF fileQuick Guide on How–to–Install a Pre–Finished Bamboo Floor
300kb pdf | Our short installation guide for those with DIY experience.
PDF icon for PDF fileFull Guide – Complete Installation Instructions on Installing your Bamboo Floor
1.5 mb pdf | Our full set of DIY installation instructions.

Our Bamboo installation quick guide has been posted below for your convenience. Should you choose not to download the free pdf of our install guides, feel free to browse below using the green navigation at the top of the page to go to each bamboo installation section.

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Getting Started or Ready to Install your Floor?

The Basics – Preparing to Work

You can install prefinished bamboo flooring with one of these methods:

  • Glue Down – Commonly used for solid tongue and groove bamboo flooring that's being installed over a concrete or wood subfloor.
  • Nail/Staple – For solid and engineered T&G bamboo above a wood subfloor or above a concrete subfloor overlaid with a plywood underlayment.
  • Click Lock Floating – For engineered click lock bamboo flooring above a concrete or wood subfloor.
  • Engineered Floating – For engineered T&G bamboo above a concrete or wood subfloor.

Tools and Materials

You will need most of the general tools and materials plus anything specific for your installation method.

Tools Needed For All Bamboo Flooring Installation

  • 4' or 6' level
  • Broom
  • Carpenter's square
  • Chalk line
  • Crow, pull bar and/or power bar
  • Electric and/or hand saw with carbide tipped blade
  • Hammer
  • Jig saw
  • Safety goggles and mask
  • Soft rubber mallet and/or white tipped mallet
  • Spacers for expansion gaps
  • Tape measure
  • Tapping block or clean piece of scrap wood
  • Utility knife
  • Utility towels

Tools Needed For Glue Down Bamboo Flooring Installation

  • 1/4" square notch trowel (for planks 5" or wider)
  • 3/16" notched trowel (for planks 5" or less)
  • Blue painters tape and/or ratchet straps
  • Flooring adhesive
  • Flooring adhesive remover
  • Weighted items (buckets of glue or books) to weigh down areas of the floor

Tools Needed For Nail/Staple Installation

  • Electric drill (to predrill nail holes)
  • Nail or staple gun
  • Nail punch
  • Nails/cleats or staples
  • Pliers
  • Wire Cutters

Tools Needed For Floating Engineered Installation

  • Adhesive remover
  • Tongue and groove adhesive

NOTE: You may need additional tools/materials for your installation method.

Installation Areas

Prefinished bamboo flooring can be installed in rooms that are On Grade or Above Grade over the following types of subfloors:

  • Wood subfloors (plywood or OSB board). Wood subfloors must be structurally sound and free from movement. Do not install above particle board subfloors.
  • Concrete subfloors that are at least 30 days old. Concrete subfloors must pass all moisture tests.
  • Various radiant heating systems, if approved by the flooring manufacturer.
  • Existing porous stone, tile, bamboo, hardwood and vinyl.

Do not install prefinished bamboo flooring in Below Grade areas (such as basements) unless specifically approved by the manufacturer. Excess moisture in these areas can damage the flooring.

Basic Installation Tips

  • Install your bamboo parallel to the longest wall and the main incoming light source in the room. Install bamboo perpendicular to floor joists for additional stability.
  • Do not store your bamboo in the garage or in direct sunlight. Keep your bamboo flooring away from doors, outside walls, windows and air vents.
  • Always leave at least a 1/2" expansion/contraction perimeter around the room. More expansion/contraction area may be required for large rooms or if you live in a humid area. Consult your flooring manufacturer or retailer for guidelines for your specific bamboo flooring.
  • Always use a suitable underlayment. Cork, standard foam, combination foam/film and upgraded foam are all good choices under bamboo flooring. For more specific information about these underlayments, see the full Installing Prefinished Bamboo Flooring guide on FindAnyFloor.com.
  • Install a moisture barrier (6mm polyethylene/plastic sheeting) between your subfloor and bamboo. This moisture barrier is essential when installing above a concrete slab or if you live in a humid area.
  • Calculate the number of rows of bamboo you'll need to complete your floor. If your first and last row are very different widths (for example, your first row is 3" and your last row is less than 1") re–calculate so that these rows are more equal.
  • You may need to scribe fit your first and last row to match the wall contours. This ensures your bamboo floor goes down straight even if your walls are not.
  • Stagger all joints 2–3 times the width of the plank for an even looking floor. Avoid H–joints whenever possible.
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for board length (usually between 8"–10") when starting new rows. This helps ensure the joints are staggered evenly. You may be able to use the remainder of the plank you cut from the previous row.
  • Inspect all boards before you install them. Do not install damaged or discolored boards. Cut away damaged areas and use the remainder to start rows. Place slightly discolored boards in pantries or closets where the color variation may not be as noticeable.

Prepare For Installation

  • Remove all existing flooring, if necessary. Do not remove any existing flooring if you find asbestos. Follow all local, state and federal guidelines when handling and/or disposing of asbestos.
  • Use a moisture meter to test wood subfloors for moisture. Acceptable ranges include:
    • 3" wide or less – Less than a 4% variance between the subfloor and the bamboo flooring.
    • 3" wide or more – Less than a 2% variance between the subfloor and the bamboo flooring.
  • Perform a Calcium Chloride and pH Alkalinity test on concrete subfloors. Acceptable ranges include:
    • Calcium Chloride – Not to exceed 3 lbs per 24 hrs per 1000 sq ft.
    • pH Alkalinity – Between 6–9 on the pH scale.
    • NOTE: If you have a concrete slab, you can perform a Polyethylene Moisture Test. Tape several 12"x12" pieces of plastic sheeting to the subfloor. If after 24 hours any condensation forms, you must perform a Calcium Chloride and pH Alkalinity test. It's a good idea to perform these tests anyway as excessive moisture in your subfloor can cause major problems in the long run.

  • Ensure the subfloor is level and free from all dips, bumps and imperfections (such as paint overspray or drywall mud). Scrape your subfloor clean. Sand down any high areas. Use self–leveling compound to level low areas. Perform all moisture tests again if using a self–leveling compound.
  • Have your bamboo flooring delivered 2 – 7 days before your installation.
  • Place your bamboo flooring in the installation area to acclimatize. The room should be between 60°– 80°F with a relative humidity of between 35%–65%. Follow all the manufacturer's acclimatization recommendations.
  • Use a moisture meter to test your bamboo flooring for moisture as recommended by your manufacturer.
  • Undercut the door casings in the installation area, if desired.
  • Remove all molding and doors. Set aside.
  • Sweep and vacuum your floor before installing your bamboo flooring.
  • Always install safely using the proper safety equipment. Follow all manufacturer safety recommendations.

Install the Underlayment

Install your cork, foam, plastic sheeting or other underlayment according to the manufacturer's recommendations. If using the glue down method, ensure the underlayment you use is specifically designed for a glue down installation.


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