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Bamboo Flooring Installation Methods

Bamboo, an Eco-Friendly, Green, Sustainable Material, can be Installed by Gluing, Nailing (or Stapling), or as Laminate Flooring

© 2012 by Kelly R. Smith

Photo of Kelly R. Smith

A bamboo forest provides sustainable flooring

A bamboo forest provides sustainable flooring

This article was updated on 05/22/21.

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What makes bamboo such a versatile sustainable material? Basically because it’s a vigorous species of the grass family. If you do your yard work every weekend or shell out the cash to a landscaper, you are certainly aware of how fast grass can regenerate.

As an example, tells us, “It’s the fastest growing woody plant in the world, and it can be used as material in the construction of a slew of goods such as flooring planks and squares, hypoallergenic bed sheets, paper, toothbrush and brush handles, and even laptops are now being made with bamboo.”

Bamboo hypoallergenic bed sheets

They also say that given the right situation, it can grow at the phenomenal rate of 24” each day although each species is different! And by comparison, when you consider that it will take an oak or pecan tree many years to grow that much, it’s simple to see that it’s more sustainable than hardwood flooring.

In fact, some species (the running bamboo variety) can be a nuisance if not controlled properly. However, "clumping" bamboo is defined as having a non-invasive rhizome structure (known as pachymorph rhizome). When bamboo is processed, there are three common ways you may install it. Let’s take a look and you can decide which is right for you. This can be done by a contractor or as a weekend DIY project. You choose. The steps for vetting and hiring a remodeling contractor are basically the same regardless of the job.

Installing Bamboo Flooring with Glue

The most commonly used glue is a 100% urethane wood flooring adhesive. It’s not a good idea to cut corners on this since the quality of your finished floor is dependent on it. High-quality adhesive manufacturers will provide information on what size trowel to use, glue ridge height, spread rate, and other details.

One common trick is to apply blue (or green) painter’s tape to keep your planks tightly in place while your adhesive is drying and curing. This is a recommended precautionary step and is well worth the extra time and effort.

You will find that painter’s tape is slightly more expensive than common masking tape but it is well worth it; it is engineered to hold well and come up easily, with no messy residue.

Installation by Nailing or Stapling

This is a good choice to use if you have an OSB or plywood subfloor. It’s important (in most cases) to use a vapor barrier with this method. This will not only keep moisture out, but it will also help eliminate undue noise and squeaking. At a low price it is well worth the investment.

That said, some OSB doesn’t need a separate barrier. says, “For example, 5/8” (15.5mm) panels can be installed as a floor over unheated well ventilated spaces without the need of a vapor barrier, while 7/16” (11 mm), when installed as wall sheathing, will allow a wall cavity containing saturated stud lumber and glass fiber insulation to reach an equilibrium moisture content below 19 percent in approximately 60 days.”

Your starter rows should be face-nailed in spots where the baseboard will cover the nails. This will ensure that they are securely locked in place.

Moving on after that, subsequent planks should be stapled or nailed directly above the tongue. For best results aim for a 45° to 50° angle. Your planks should be nailed every 6 to 8 inches (15.24 to 20.32 cm). I use a Ryobi trim nailer, battery-operated; no compressor to lug around.

Installing a Floating Floor

QuietWalk laminate flooring underlayment A floating floor (usually laminates like Pergo) is just what the name implies; even though your planks are secured to each other, they aren’t permanently affixed to your subfloor.

Because the floor floats, you must leave a gap (1/4”) all around the perimeter to allow for expansion and contraction.

This is so that your floor won’t buckle. Additionally, in very large rooms, the floor must be divided up and joined with a transition strip. Refer to your manufacturer's guideliness, but it is usually something like 30’.

Recently, this seems to be the most popular method because it is a simple DIY home renovation project. It is also one of the most affordable methods and doesn’t require many specialty tools.

You must use a special underlayment mat with laminates. If you are installing over a concrete slab, use one that has a vapor barrier attached to it. Be sure the shiny side (the barrier) faces up and use wide clear plastic tape to join all seams.

Common Pointers for any of these Methods

Since bamboo is a natural organic building material, you can expect that you’ll encounter variations with regard to grain, color, as well as the shading. This is one of the things that lends its character, so you should always work with several cartons at once. Mix and match.

Be certain your floor is flat before beginning the installation. The levelness is not so important in most cases, for aesthetic reasons, but flatness is imperative. Apply a self-leveling compound where needed.

I hope you enjoyed this article on bamboo flooring installation helpful. If you did, I would consider it a favor if you shared the link with friends. And if you have some related ideas please share them with our readers in the comment section below.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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