Ask any realtor and they’ll tell you that remodeling your home or finishing a basement not only adds living space, it also adds value to your home. We get a lot of customers who want to use bamboo or eucalyptus flooring but they aren’t sure if they can install them over concrete.
The short answer is ‘of course you can.’ There are, however, some necessary guidelines that will help you ensure your bamboo or eucalyptus installation is sound and will look and feel great for many years.
But first, in case you’re still debating whether these are the right option for your home, let’s talk about some of its benefits:
Bamboo flooring is a green alternative to traditional hardwood floors because bamboo regenerates in as little as 5 – 7 years, and eucalyptus flooring regenerates in as little as 14 years. Compare that to hardwood trees that can take as much as 30 – 90 years to replenish and you can easily see why they’re the more environmentally-friendly choice. Both are also grown quickly and don’t require any harmful pesticides or fertilizers, and they don’t require excessive amounts of fresh water.
Bamboo and eucalyptus flooring are also incredibly durable. In fact, bamboo strand and eucalyptus strand are both three times as strong as oak, so you can be sure they’ll stand up to wear and tear.
Installing Bamboo or Eucalyptus Flooring Over Concrete
You obviously won’t be able to nail your planks into the concrete slab so you’ll have to use the glue down method. But before you can begin the actual installation it’s critical you allow your concrete slab to cure for at least 60 days. This will reduce the moisture in the slab before you begin to lay down your new floor.
Clean Your Slab, Make it Level
Your concrete slab may be cured but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s clean, so before you do anything else, give it a thorough sweeping or vacuuming to get up any dust and debris. Depending on how dirty your slab is you may have to give it a good scrub with soap and water. If you should find you need to scrub it just be sure to give it another 24 hours to dry before installation. Most importantly, you will want to ensure that your slab is level before installation, whether through the use of self-leveling compound, or grinding down bumps.
Determine Your Starting Point
Don’t start spreading glue all over your floor until you determine the best starting point. Why is this important? Because if you don’t start laying your floor in the farthest corner away from the doorway, you may find yourself stuck, and then you’ll be forced to walk on your floor before the glue dries. You don’t want to do this.
So, keep in mind that wood and bamboo floors typically run parallel to the longest wall in the room and pick a corner to start from.
Make Sure You Use the Right Tools
The most critical item of this whole installation is the glue you use, so buy one that has a moisture barrier in it. This seals the concrete and protects your floor from moisture. The next most important tool is your trowel. You want a trowel that has been designed to work with your adhesive. If you’re not sure just ask someone at your local home improvement store.
Starting Spreading the Adhesive
It’s important to mention up top that most adhesives dry in less than an hour or two, so you never want to apply more than you‘ll be able to cover in that time. That doesn’t mean you should skimp on the adhesive, because you shouldn’t. It simply means cover small sections of the floor at a time but use a liberal amount of glue in each section.
Once you’ve spread some glue in your starting point, go ahead and scrape the top of it with the notched side of your trowel. This creates grooves in the glue and helps your planks grab hold. Make sure to use some adhesive remover towels so none of the adhesive gets on top of your planks because it can ruin the finish.
It’s really important to use spacers when gluing down a floor because without them each row you lay down will push up against the first row, and then your first row gets squeezed up tight against the wall. If you were laying down your floor over a plywood subfloor you could simply nail the first row in place. But since you can’t, it’s important you use spacers every six inches along the planks to ensure the first row will stay in place.
How to Measure for Your Expansion Gap
After you’re done laying your first row and you’ve come to your last plank, you’ll want to measure the distance between your last plank and the wall and then subtract ¼ of an inch for the expansion gap. Saw this bit off your last plank and lay it down. Make sure to use a ¼ inch spacer between the wall and the plank.
Create Random Seams
Perhaps you’ve noticed other wood floors have used a random pattern when it comes to the seams. Bamboo and eucalyptus floors just look more natural this way. To achieve this look you’ll want to start your second row by placing a long board beside a short one and vice versa.
Once you’ve finished this second row, use 3M/Scotchguard #2080 for Delicate Surfaces tape and tape across the seam between your first and second row to hold them in place while your adhesive dries.
Allow to Dry for 24 Hours
You’ll repeat this process throughout the room making sure to use those adhesive towels to wipe excess glue that has squeezed between the boards. Once all of your boards are down, taped and wiped, allow the adhesive to dry for 24 hours.
Once your floor is completely dry you can nail your baseboard to the bottom of your walls to cover those expansion gaps. You did make sure to cut for those gaps, right?
Once that’s done the only thing left to do is show off your new floors and take all of the credit.