Hybrid Homes How Tos-Bamboo Flooring

Installing glue down bamboo flooring.

Disclaimer: With over 100 hardwood floor installations under our belt, we have found a way that works well for us to install this type of flooring. Installing flooring over any radiant heat system can be tricky. Be careful and use this guide as just that. Hybrid Homes is not responsible for damage to your heating system or anything else if you use this tutorial and something goes wrong.

The following gallery will take you step by step through the installation process of glue down bamboo flooring. This floor had to be glued down with no nails used because the pex tubing for the radiant heat system was attached directing to the underside of the sub-floor. Bamboo is normally quite stable because it is actually a grass and works well directly placed over radiant heat systems. We recommend the strand woven bamboo over horizontal or vertical bamboo for two reasons: #1 Strand woven is less prone to separation. (Look at a cross section of horizontal bamboo and you will see what I mean.) #2 Strand woven bamboo doesn't look like the vertical or horizontal options therefore your floor won't look like you followed a trend in ten years. (i.e. the wall paper you see on the Brady Bunch or in a Grandmother's house...sorry Mim!)

Step 1

The first step is to properly stage your product and let it sit in the house for at least 72 hours to acclimate. We push our flooring against the farthest wall from where we are working. We then plane and sand the seems of the sub-floor to makes sure the floor is perfectly flat. We use an electric hand planer first to lessen the dust emitted and then sand using a belt sander hooked up to our shopvac to lessen the dust.

Step 2

All floors must run perpendicular to the floor joists for strength and to cover any imperfections in your floor joists. Exceptions can be made but should be made with extreme caution.Spend a little time on step two. If you 'do the math' you can eliminate extra work later in the process. We always pick the longest, straightest wall as a reference point. We measure out a distance that will be about the width of 4 boards minus 3/8" (we will show you why later). We mark 4-6 different spots along the reference wall and snap a line. The more marks, the more sure you can be that your floor will be laser straight. We then make sure that our floor will fit under all casing and door jambs before we lay out any adhesive.

Step 3

Using the reference line as your guide, layout the adhesive and spread it to the line you snapped on the subfloor. This line is 3/8" back from the edge of the last board. This makes for a clean install. Make sure you use the adhesive that the floorng company reccommends to avoid any warranty issue if something happens to your floor later in life. In most instances, Bostick's Best is the choice along with the adhesive remover they sell. Botick's Best has very little memory and fumes (low voc). Your floor will move alot and have gaps everywhere if you don't use Bostick's Best.

Step 4

We choose to layout a row of 4 boards to start our floor. Notice that we are starting under the right side of the door jamb. The reason is that when we did the math, we found out that no cutting was required on either side of the door if we started there. We then spread out the glue using trowels reccomended by the flooring company. We always drag the glue in the same direction, running the length of floor. This helps to lessen the memory of the glue and lessens gapping.

Step 5

Once the glue is down, it is good to let it tac up a little bit, so we spend this time staging flooring. Bamboo goes very fast because every piece is exactly the same length. Just over 6 feet or just under 2 meters depending on where you are from. Placing the flooring in easy reach of the installer makes the job more efficient.

Step 6

Nailing this floor down is a no no, unless, you clearly mark the floor joists and know for certain you can nail through the tongue of the bamboo into a joist and not the pex tubing. We use an 18 gauge finish nail. It is very brittle and bends very easy. It does not have the power to penetrate the metal that the pex is clicked into should we have a problem. This first row must be secured and exactly in line with the line you snapped on the floor. You do this by measuring every piece you install of this first row to the snapped line. You will be installing the floor backwards (groove towards the installer) (right side of floor in photo) This row must remain perfect for your entire floor to be straight! You can also place blocks on this side as we show later in this tutorial, but you must use 3/4" trim nails to avoid any harm to the pex tubing.

Step 7

Placing the floor. This row of flooring is laser straight. We let this set up for a little while why we stage more wood and get ready to apply more adhesive. Laying this length of floor took about 5 minutes. Important, please read on! You have to be very conscience about what you are doing. The floor can not have any close steps in it or what we call 'H's'. This is where the joint of the floor matches the other joint but has one or two boards between it. Structurally, this is a no no! We start from the center of the floor and work either way on a long run like this and we can get our two finisher pieces out of one board. In a small room, we start from one direction and use the remainder of finisiher pieces as starter pieces where we begin a row. Avoid H's and steps and your floor will be strong!

Step 8

Always layout adhesive at a rate of what you can finish within a half hour. We found that 2 trowel lengths, or about 2 feet is perfect (about 5-10 minutes of work for us). Here you can see how the floor is laying out based on the math we did before we started. Here is a tip for you! The adhesive does not layout at the rate it says on the can. Figure about 100-120 square feet per can with the v-notched trowel. Figure at least $1.00 a square foot for the adhesive cost. Installers charge more to glue down the floor. between $3.50 and $4.50 a square foot total for a glue down floor not including the material or glue.

7th inning stretch

This house in Onekama was designed specifically to lessen the amount of scrap the house produced during construction. Image Design has done a nice job of designing this home, look at the small amount of scrap on the floor!!!!

Step 9

This step is important to those stopping installing for the day, or those that move into another room to work. We always snap a line on the floor that is 3/8" back from the leading edge of the floor. This keeps you from having to spend hours digging glue out of the grooves of the floor. Here we did that because we moved into the bedroom to finish that room and would not be back on this section until the next day.

Step 10

This is a good time to makes sure everything is remaining straight. Measure to ensure your floor is perfectly straight. Here you see that our math paid off! We landed under the door jambs without having to notch any flooring! Save time, do the math!

Step 11

As mentioned before, blocking can and should be installed in any areas that you are finished working on for the day. This has to be done to stop the floor from spreading apart. The adhesive has just enough memory to make gaps in your floor once you stop working for the day. We use the small amount of scrap generated as the blocking. We push the floor together and nail these blocks using a 3/4" 18 guage trim nail, at every joint and in the middle of each board. Double check your gun to make sure you have 3/4" nails in there! This bamboo is about 9/16" thick, so we used the 3/4" nail with 6 nails per block.

Step 12

Cleaning the floor. Glueing a floor down is very messy. Adhesive gets everywhere and for that reason, everytime we finish an area, we work to remove any adhesive we missed during installation. (Wipe off adhesive as you go) Once again, use the adhesive remover that the flooring manufacturer reccomends! Some removers will dull a floor's finish!!

Step 13

Look the floor over and make sure you don't see any gaps. If there are any on this glue down floor, it will be where long pieces and short pieces (against a wall) meet. You must leave a gap around the floor's exterior for expansion and the floor just moves towards that open air. Correct this by nailing (carefully) where the base trim will cover the nail holes, or shim that area.

Step 14

Step 14 is where you repeat the steps until you have the finished product. You will find it a little tricky finishing a room if the end pieces are 1/2" ripped pieces. It takes a little patience, but hang in there, you will get it! Ah yes, make sure you step back and view your masterpeice. If you have any questions, just email us and we will talk you through them. We are not full time floor installers anymore, so if you want a floor installed email us and we will give you the name of the best installers around..they trained us a few years ago.