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Bamboo Flooring Installation Methods

Let's get down to the nitty gritty


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We've organized our Installation Instructions into three different pages. Click the link to view the appropriate page. If you have further questions please contact us.

Installation Methods

Topics in this section:

 

Getting Started

It is recommended you begin installation next to an outside wall. Establish a working line by measuring an equal distance from the wall at both ends and snapping a chalk line. This is usually the straightest and best reference for establishing a straight working line. The distance you measure from the wall should be the width of a plank plus about 1/4" - 1/2" for expansion space. If the outside wall is out of square, adjust your working line to make it straight for the rest of your installation. Often, installers will snap their starting lines along the longest, most continuous run of flooring in the house. This is also a wise way to plan ahead so that you make sure the floor looks best where you want it to look best.

**ABOUT INSTALLING SHOE MOLDING OR QUARTER ROUND: Due to the hardness of strand woven bamboo/eucalyptus, you will need to use a micro pin nailer to install most strand woven perimeter moldings. The recommended pin nailer will shoot 23 gage nails and these tools can be rented at most local big-box stores.

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Nail-Down Installation

**IMPORTANT NOTE: not all nail guns work with strand woven bamboo, as it is much more dense than traditional hardwoods. You may need to rent a gun (see recommendations below) which can also be done by calling your Ambient representative at 301-498-0234



RECOMMENDED NAIL GUNS: Primatech Q550, Powernail 50P Flex (pneumatic nailers)

CLEAT SIZE REQUIRED: 18 gage, 1-1/2 inch or 2 inch lengths

RECOMMENDED PRESSURE SETTING: 90-120 PSI


Planks should be started square with the room and parallel to its longest dimension by positioning with a chalk line, leaving 1/4" - 1/2" expansion space from base plate or wall. Ensure starter rows are firmly in place by wedging or face nailing. Once initial rows are secure, second and further courses should be blind-nailed directly above tongue at a 45 degrees to 50 degrees angle to the face. Fasteners should be spaced at 8" to 10" intervals with a minimum of six fasteners per piece. For wide plank products (four inches and wider) nailing every 6" to 8" is the standard. There should not be a fastener within three inches of each board end. It is recommended that you lay asphaltsaturated felt paper underlayment No. 15 evenly over the entire subfloor following manufacturer's instructions.

Be sure to practice on a few boards to set the proper pressures in the nail gun. If the pressure is too high the nail will try to split the board since bamboo/eucalyptus flooring is very hard. Please take the time to set your nail gun pressures before you start and the job will be fast and easy. When laying the planks, small, light taps - as opposed to large, forceful taps - are best to get a snug fit. Note: As with traditional hardwood flooring, if the nails or cleats that are used are too thick, this will cause small bumps noticeable at the drive-in points. We strongly advise that you test on several planks before beginning your installation, and inspect your nail positions in all angles of light (bumps may be so slight that they can only be seen at the perfect angle). If you see bumps, you will need to move down in fastener size to a thinner size.

Nailing through a 3 in 1 underlayment: nailing through a moisture barrier underlayment will nullify it’s vapor protection features as humidity will come up through the nails/holes.

Regular 1 1/4" to 2" 18-gauge wood flooring nails can be used on all of our tongue-and-groove products. Outside of the aforementioned recommended nail size, successful installation depends on the product being installed and the tools being used to install it. Installation of bamboo/eucalyptus flooring is the same as for traditional hardwood flooring products, therefore it does not require a change in tools, fasteners, or method. Always make sure pneumatic nail guns are kept well oiled and clean. Flooring should be square with the area and perpendicular to the joists. Leave a 1/4" - 1/2" expansion space from the base plate or wall. Once starter rows are secure, additional rows should be nailed directly above the tongue at a 45 degrees to 50 degrees angle to the face.

If you reach the end of a row and you cannot use the nail gun to shoot a nail through the tongue at a 45 degree angle, you have two options:
A) Face nail the final row(s) and use putty or filler to hide the holes (Picobello Floor Repair Kit or Timbermate are good fillers to use) or
B) Glue the final row(s) down with flooring adhesive and a trowel - but make sure you use 100% urethane adhesive as water or latex based adhesives will damage the flooring over time.

Due to the extreme density of this flooring we recommend gluing it down. If you choose to nail it down, it is the responsibility of the installer to verify the correct psi for the nail gun and installation environment. Fasteners should be nailed no closer than three inches from the plank ends and spaced at eight-inch intervals or as required to prevent tongue splitting or damage. Nail gauges larger than 18-gauge (i.e., 16-gauge) should not be used. They may damage the flooring and will void the warranty. Due to the density changes in bamboo/eucalyptus (as with hardwoods), depending on the age of the plant and the density of the culm area of the plant being used, there may be slight differences in density from board to board. It is the responsibility of the installer to check each row after it has been nailed down to ensure that all cleats are sufficiently embedded in the planks so they won't cause dimples in the finished floor upon fastening the following row.

We strongly recommend a high-quality pneumatic nail gun. The right psi will vary depending on the subflooring, flooring, and on the quality and type of gun. If you want to face-nail rows on the perimeter of the installation, or for starter rows, this may require pre-drilling, gluing or wedging. Installation of certain moldings such as quarter round may also require pre-drilling.

We highly recommend that you READ THIS ARTICLE prior to nailing down strand woven bamboo flooring.

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Glue-Down Installation


Please note - if you are gluing down over concrete you must either seal the slab first, or use a glue that has a moisture barrier built into it (we recommend Bilders Ultimate All In One with moisture barrier). If you are gluing down to a plywood subfloor you can use a 100% urethane glue of our choice (we recommend Bilders Choice ZERO VOC).

REQUIRED TROWEL OVER CONCRETE OR OTHER SURFACES RELEASING MOISTURE: V-NOTCH 1/4 inch

RECOMMENDED TROWEL OVER DRY SURFACES SUCH AS PLYWOOD: SQUARE-NOTCH 1/4 inch wide X 1/8 inch deep

Additional tools you will need:

  • Bilders Choice or Bilders Ultimate flooring adhesives
  • Adhesive remover wipes
  • 3M/Scotchguard #2080 tape
  • Trowel (see recommended/required trowels above)

  • Important Glue-Down Clean-Up Note: Always test non-recommended cleaning agents on sacrificial planks or test planks of flooring before attempting to clean your newly installed floor with them, as they may cause blemishes in the finish. Ambient is not responsible for flooring damaged by adhesive that has cured or by cleaning agents. Cleaning agents must always be tested beforehand on a sacrificial plank to ensure that they do not damage the finish. For our polyurethane finish floors (not hardwax oil finish) we recommend Bostik Adhesive Remover Towels for removing adhesive from our floors. Note: if the adhesive cures it will be virtually impossible to remove, so please ensure that all adhesive is removed from flooring immediately. Do not use mineral spirits to remove adhesive from the bamboo flooring since it may dull the finish.

    Adhesive must be 100% urethane. Bilders Ultimate Zero VOC Adhesive is highly recommended. Read adhesive instructions carefully for proper trowel size and adhesive set time. Always leave a 1/4" to 1/2" expansion space between flooring and all walls and vertical objects (such as pipes and cabinets). Use wood or plastic spacers during installation to maintain this expansion space. Starting at an outside wall, spread as much adhesive as can be covered by flooring in one hour (or as recommended by the adhesive instructions). Spread adhesive with a trowel at a 45 degrees angle. When the ends of the plank come closely together, do not apply excessive force when tapping, since this could affect the finish. Small, light taps - as opposed to large, forceful taps - are best to get a snug fit.

    When the first section is finished, continue to spread adhesive and lay flooring section by section until installation is complete. Remove any adhesive that gets on the flooring surface immediately using Bostik Adhesive Remover Towels (only for polyurethane finish floors, not hardwax oil finishes). Apply 3M tape perpendicularly to the seam of adjoining rows to prevent the rows from spreading apart while drying. Walk each section of flooring foot-by-foot, or roll with a 100-pound roller, within the adhesive working time to ensure solid contact with the adhesive. Flooring on the perimeter of the room may require weighting until adhesive cures enough to hold the boards in place. Do not place heavy furniture or appliances on the freshly laid floor for 24 hours.

    Do not place heavy furniture or appliances on the freshly laid floor for 24 hours.

    A note about pressboard: this is a fine particle board is a fairly common subfloor material, especially in older homes in California, particularly in the Bay Area. It's no good at holding nails or staples but great deal of flooring has been successfully glued over it. Of course it's always a good idea to re-screw it down to the joists and also to be sure crawl spaces have required vapor barriers. Most 100% urethane adhesives will work over pressboard.

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    Click-Lock or Floating Installation


    ***IMPORTANT*** Unless your interior humidity settings are very stable (within a 20% range year around), the maximum successive "run" of flooring allowed for an engineered floating bamboo or eucalyptus floor is 25 feet across the widths of the planks (tangentially) and 45 feet down the lengths of the planks (longitudinally). Be sure to insert breaks or expansion gaps (can be covered by T-molding). Ensure to leave at least a 1/4 to 1/2 inch expansion gap around the perimeter of the floor. Transitioning between rooms where the connection is a doorway or narrow in width should always be made using T-molding. Narrow areas bridging two large floor expanses can create stress and fracturing in the floor.


    Click Lock Run Length


    Additional tools you will need:


  • A suitable underlayment, preferably 3-in-1 closed foam underlayment or 3-in-1 radiant specific underlayment depending on the installation need
  • Duct or masking tape

  • Underlayment with 1 plastic side must be used when installing over concrete. Ensure to check the underlayment installation instructions as some underlayments are installed with the vapor barrier facing down, and others are installed with the moisture barrier facing up. Make sure the flat side of the roll is against the outside wall and the side with the excess plastic is towards the center of the room. Starting in a corner unroll the underlayment until it hits the far wall. Cut the underlayment leaving about ¼” between the underlayment and the wall. Roll out a parallel line of underlayment adjacent to the first roll. Cut at the wall and tape the entire length of the seam with duct tape. Note: When rolling out the adjoining length of underlayment be sure to overlap the plastic and tape foam to foam. This will prevent moisture from penetrating in between rolls. Do this for the entire room being sure to tape all seams. For ease of installation you can also tape down the perimeter of the underlayment to the subfloor.

    Do not remove flooring from the packages until you are ready to begin installation. Removing the boards prior to acclimating the flooring could result in a difficult installation. Inspect each board before installation.

    Start in the corner of the room with the locking edge open toward you and the L-shaped side toward the wall. Install the entire first row, clicking the end of each board and cut the last board to size. Be sure to leave 1/4"-1/2"-wide space between the floor and wall. You can use expansion shims at 12" intervals. For a better expansion joint, it is recommended that the tongue be sawn off of each plank along the wall. Start the second row with a cut piece at least 18" in length. You can also use the cut board from the first row. When installing the second row, insert the long edge of the board at a 20 degrees to 30 degrees angle, adjacent with the first row. Push forward and down at the same time, and make sure the boards lock together. You will often hear a clicking noise. At the end of each row, use a rubber mallet as necessary to ensure that all edges are tightly fitted together. Do not hit the boards with too much force as you may cause damage to the clicking mechanism.

    After installing the third row make any adjustments necessary to straighten the floor as additional installed rows will make it harder to shift. Repeat the installation instructions above throughout the entire room until you've reached the last row. You may choose to do a random staggered pattern or a stair step or bonded pattern. The last row will probably need to be cut lengthwise. To measure the last row, place a board directly on top of the last installed row of the boards. Scribe the row and cut to fit.

    Transitioning between rooms where the connection is a doorway or narrow in width should always be done with care to leave an expansion gap, as this is a common site where pinning occurs. Narrow areas bridging two large floor expanses can create stress and fracturing in the floor.

    Note: Do not set heavy appliances on top of a continuous floating floor. Instead, create an island of bamboo flooring underneath the appliance, and create a break in the flooring between that island and the rest of the floor this break can be covered by a t-molding.

    Once your flooring has been installed, you can begin to use it immediately.

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    Installing Bamboo/Eucalyptus Flooring Over Radiant Heat Systems


    All solid strand woven floors installed over radiant heat systems must be glued down, and all engineered floating floors must have a valid radiant safe underlayment laid down underneath first. The adhesive used must be compatible with radiant heating and must contain a moisture barrier. We recommend Bilder's Ultimate adhesive for glue-down installations over radiant heat systems.

    PRIOR TO INSTALLATION

  • Six (6) days prior to installation, the temperature of the radiant heat system should be set close to or at its maximum temperature and kept hot for 72 hours. This is very important because it allows enough time for any remaining moisture to evaporate from the system, attaining its final moisture content.
  • At least 72 hours before installation, the heating system must be reduced to a suitable temperature of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature of the surface slab is below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the adhesive bond will be affected when the floor is installed by glue-down method.
  • The flooring must be acclimated over the radiant heat with the system turned on. The same acclimation preparation must be followed as always, including cutting the boxes open and stacking them as prescribed in the Acclimation section of this document. If the radiant heat system is encased in concrete or another substrate that releases moisture, a 6mm polyethelene barrier must be placed between the flooring boxes and the substrate so that the flooring does not absorb moisture during acclimation.


  • DURING INSTALLATION

  • Make sure to leave 1/4" - 1/2" of expansion space between the flooring and the walls.
  • The temperature of slab should always be maintained at a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A stove or any other item that can affect the temperature of the ground should not be used at the job site.


  • AFTER INSTALLATION / MAINTENANCE

  • During the first three days after installation, the concrete slab temperature should be maintained at a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, the temperature can be set warmer, by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit each day, with a maximum temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The temperature of the sub-floor must never exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the radiant heat system liquid must not reach more than 112 degrees Fahrenheit during the life of your floor.
  • When turning off the radiant heat system, it must cool by a temperature of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit per day.
  • Never turn your radiant system off suddenly.
  • The radiant heat system cannot fluctuate in temperature rapidly. Room temperature should vary no more than +/-7 degrees Fahrenheit year round.
  • Slight changing of color is expected for bamboo flooring installed over a radiant heating systems.

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