DIY Bamboo Flooring

floating bamboo floorsBamboo is one of the most popular flooring options on the market today and for good reason: It’s a green, sustainable material that has the same warmth and beauty of hardwood, costs less but can last as long as hardwood with proper care and maintenance.

Though there are various types of bamboo flooring out there and some require a professional installation, to install by a weekend DIYer.

What are Floating Bamboo Floors?

Floating floors are ones that can be installed directly over an existing floor, so there is no need for demoing or ripping up before laying down. Floors can be laid over hardwood floors, vinyl, ceramic tiles, concrete, pretty much anything as long as the surface is even.

There will usually be a layer of sound insulation between the two floors which can consist of cork, felt or neoprene pads. Also, a small gap is left between the floating floors and the walls to allow for expansion, and these gaps can be easily covered and hidden with moldings or skirting boards.

DIY Saves You Money

Besides the satisfaction that you installed the floor yourself and the boasting rights that come with that, installing your own bamboo floors means not having to hire professionals to do the job for you and this can save you money; sometimes a lot of money. Depending on how many square feet of flooring you plan to put in, you could save anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

Tips on Bamboo Flooring Installation

ONE – Make sure the floor or subfloor you are installing over is in good condition and free from any dirt or other debris. The idea here is you want a nice, clean and smooth surface. Also be sure to remove any baseboards before starting.

TWO – If installing over concrete flooring, you’ll first want to lay down a moisture barrier on the surface of the concrete and make sure to overlap and tape down the seams. This moisture barrier should then be covered with the foam padding of your choice. If installing over other flooring materials besides concrete, you can skip the moisture barrier and go right to laying down the foam padding.

THREE – Once you start laying down your planks, one at a time, make sure to use 3/8 inch spacers between the planks as well as between the surrounding walls. This step is very important. Bamboo planks expand and contract more than wood and laminate floors, and without these gaps, your floors will buckle over time.

FOUR – you should install row by row using a rubber mallet to snap the planks into place like a giant puzzle. The second row’s first plank down should be 1/3 the length of the first row, and the third row’s first plank down should be 1/3 the length of the second row’s. Once you start on the fourth row you will use a full length of plank for that first plank down. Follow this pattern to ensure the joints will be staggered.

FIVE – Once the floor is down, install baseboards around the perimeter of the room to hide the expansion gaps.

Installing Bamboo is Easier than Most Other Flooring Options

Besides bamboo, hardwood and carpeting are the two other most popular flooring choices for homeowners, but installing these materials is just not as easy.

Installing carpeting requires special tools that you most likely will have to rent (adding cost) and are unfamiliar with. Laying the carpet isn’t as easy as it looks, and if you start the project and end up screwing up somewhere, your warranty most likely won’t be honored.

Just because hardwood and bamboo look very similar – don’t be fooled. Installing hardwood takes real skill and experience. Although some of the DIY shows on cable channels make it look like something you could tackle – chances are you’re going to be in way over your head.

Like installing carpeting, laying hardwood requires more than a little muscle and a rubber mallet, there are very specific tools that you most likely will have to rent and have never used before. The spring-loaded nail gun, for instance, is used to drive the nails at a very precise angle through the tongue of each plank. Get this nailing wrong and the results will suffer.

Also, hardwood floors are some of the most finicky and very much need to be acclimated correctly to your home. Many rookies don’t let the wood acclimate enough and this causes gaps and squeaking.

If you’re looking for flooring that is beautiful, inexpensive, will last for years and can be installed by you over the course of a weekend or two, look no further than bamboo.

Categories: Flooring, Interior Decorating

2 replies

  1. Hi. Is it a good idea to lay bamboo floor over a carpet. I would prefer to just wash the old carpet and use it as the underlay instead of just throwing it away. Could you advise me on that please.
    Regards, Anna

    • Hi Anna, the answer to that is yes and no. If the carpet has a lot of vertical flexion you typically don’t want to install hardwood flooring over it, and the compression of the carpet and pad under the hardwood can stress the sides of the planks. However if the carpet is very low profile (like commercial carpeting) and there is no compressible padding underneath, then you can install the flooring over it. As a general rule you don’t want the hardwood/bamboo flooring moving up and down when you step on it as it can compromise the click lock profile on the sides of the planks. Hope this helps and best of luck!

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