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.
Before installing the bamboo, be sure to fill any holes or cracks in the concrete slab with a concrete leveling compound applied with a trowel. Once this compound is completely dry, sweep your floor well to remove any remaining dirt and debris.
The glue-down method should be used with planks made of solid bamboo. Make sure you are using an adhesive that contains a moisture barrier in it, and the trowel require for that adhesive. In this method, you will adhere the bamboo flooring directly to the concrete slab. Moisture control will come from the adhesive you use which acts as a sound reducer to boot.
Trowel the adhesive directly onto the concrete floor (have a bucket of water and sponge handy as it can get messy) working in sections and lay the bamboo planks directly on top. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as far as dry time and when the floor can be walked on.
The floating method is most commonly used with engineered or click lock bamboo flooring. This type of flooring clicks together like a puzzle and is quite easy to install. Unlike the glue-down method, this installation requires you lay down a moisture barrier first (3 in 1 underlayment), then install the floating floors directly on top. Note that using solid bamboo locking flooring will limit your runs of flooring to 15 feet at which point you’ll have to install a t-molding – but if you use engineered bamboo flooring your runs can extend up to 25 feet.
Pros and Cons of Each Installation Method
The glue-down method is quite a bit messier, but the elasticity in the glue allows the flooring planks to expand and contract naturally.
The floating floor method is very easy for DIYers to do themselves and is not messy, but there are limits to the “run” of flooring you can have, with solid click lock options the limit is 15 feet and with engineered click lock options the limit is 25 feet.
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 Glue, and 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. This is crucial to maintain the correct spread rate on the slab, so that moisture isn’t allowed to seep through and cup your floors.
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 adhesive remover towels *as you’re laying the flooring* so none of the adhesive gets on top of your planks – if allowed to dry on top of your planks the adhesive 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 6Hours
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 6hours.
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.