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Picture of How to install a Bamboo Floor
Few things look better than hardwood floors, and when I found a good deal on bamboo flooring I couldn't pass it up. I am lucky to have a square-ish living room so measuring and layout is a little easer..

I have a couple of issues first I don't own a floor sander or a floor nailer or other professional flooring tools but that shouldn't stop you because we have the INTERNET..

After looking at several sites and reading several how to's I learned a couple of key things.

1 You need a router (mounted in a table is a huge +) and a .25 groove bit and a bunch of 5gal paint sticks.

2 You don't need a nail gun.. but you will need to pre-drill all of your nails and use a nail set.

3 A stool as well as knee pads.

4 Build your self a table saw sled.

Tools you will need (some are noted above)

1. Hammer, Hand Drill, Nail Set, Utility Knife, Speed Square, Chalk Box, Tape Measure, and Framing Square.
1a. 10 to 20 fine drill bits, Utility Blades. Huge handfuls of 5 gal paint sticks.

2. Knee Pads, Small White Stool. Gloves help when pulling up carpet.

3. Table Saw with sled, Router table with .25 groove bit. 
 
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Step 1: Step One, Time To Start Ripping Up The Flooring

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Step One, Time To Start Ripping Up The Flooring

All the carpet has to go. It is best to remove all easy to remove flooring. If you pull up the carpet you will need to remove the tack strips and nails.. This can take a few hours, and be quite painful.

I had to patch a small hole where there was a vent for the old wood stove... It is a good time to walk the floor looking for squeaks and soft spots. If you fine any use sheetrock screws to tighten it up. I know there is a huge urge to start laying floor but take your time in setup now!

Step 2: Step Two, Reading The Box

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Step Two, Reading The Box

All wood flooring comes with a small list of instructions on the outside of the box.. Now is the time to read them.. If it says to let the boxes sit in the house for a week.. Follow the directions..

Step 3: Step Three, The Underlayment

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Step Three, The Underlayment

The Underlayment serves three functions.

First it is a vapor barer.
Second it isolates the finished floor from the sub floor.
Third it smooths out some of the small irregularities in the floor and gives you a clean slate for your layout lines.

Any underlayment that fits these requirements you can use.. I use tarred felt paper.. It works quite well the only real drawback is it is messy and gets black marks on everything. On a good note it helps to glue the floor down slightly and keeps things stuck, and it is cheap.

I rolled it out butting the edges together. My floor was dry so I didn't bother sealing the seams. I used a few staples to hold it in place but you are going to be nailing though it so you don't need to go wild with the staples.
 

Step 4: Step Four, Laying Out The Floor.

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Step Four, Laying Out The Floor.

The fun begins, You open a few boxes and start placing them on the floor. Don't cut anything yet. Just play with the parts. You can quickly see what it looks like and if you have to worry about the seams and lines.

Some rules of thumb..

To make the room look longer run the direction with the length of the room.
Hallways look better if you run it the short way but are faster if you run it the long way.
Try to keep the flooring lined up with other floorings in other rooms.
Always lay the floor with the tongue pointing out into the unfinished part of the floor.
Look at the windows and look at how the seams look in the light.

 

Step 5: Step Five Starting

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Step Five Starting

A good foundation is a key to good flooring. Good layout and a flat surface makes the this step a lot easer. I nailed down blocks to hold the the boards in position. I waned to do a modified wheat cross that centered in the exact middle of my floor. Then I wanted a boarder of dark edging followed up by a light edge.

If I was to do this over I would have nailed down the center of the floor and then then cut the edges with a skill saw and laid the edges second. Being the first time I ever laid solid floor I started with the edges and then cut each board to fit.. This takes longer and each pass is a trip to the saw.. Both ways work but the way chose takes longer.

I was also worried about the fit so I cut everything first then after I had fit the whole floor I went back and nailed it down. This also took a lot of my time. I know now I only need to get about 1/3 of the floor cut before starting then you can cut and nail as you go.
 

Step 6: Step Six Cutting The Flooring.

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Step Six Cutting The Flooring.

I tipped the blade about 5 cranks from center so it was undercut slightly and that gives me a tighter fit at the surface.

The I routed a groove in the cut edge Because of the pattern on this floor I had to do that a lot. Bamboo smells a little bit like Pot when cut... Just FYI

I found a tip that you can take paint sticks for 5 gal paint cans and cut them into strips and use them for splines on your strip flooring. These fit into the slots cut by the .25 grooving bit making a instant tongue in the board.

 

Step 7: Step Seven Nailing Things Down...

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Step Seven Nailing Things Down...

If you don't own a air-compersser and a power nail gun you are going to have to do it by hand. And it is easer than you think. Get a drill and drill bits slightly smaller than the dia. of your nails and a nail set.

Drill a hole into the tongue at a 45 deg. angle every 6 to 8 inches.

Drive your nail in until you have only a .25 of a inch or so sticking out. Grab your nail set and use it to drive the nail until the head of the head is just below the surface of the wood.

Step 8: Step Eight, Nicks And Dings.

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Step Eight, Nicks And Dings.

It is going to take more than one tube to fill up all the mistakes and cracks as well as the scratches.

I found it was best to get a couple of different colors. If you have a light color floor your filler should be slightly lighter and if a dark floor go just a touch darker with your filler.

If you find spots that squeak after you have nailed everything down you have only a couple of options.

First leave it alone. This might not work for everyone.
Second use powered graphite squirted into the cracks. After several treatments should help the squeaks to fade.
Third re-nail. Either from below the floor by the crawl space
  or if your flooring is on the second floor thought the celling.
  Or you can nail down from the top. You will have to putty the holes left behind.

Honor your mistakes because they are the only thing you can truly call your own.

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capincrnch4 years ago
really nice job.... highest marks on the inset border!
listerya4 years ago
me encanto muy buen trabajo, voy a empezar a hacerlo en mi pieza
Blackdog Barker (author)  listerya4 years ago
Gracias Por favor, disfrute el proceso.
Ninzerbean5 years ago
What a great 'ible! Thank you so much for sharing. I just redid a small linen closet with shelves and now I have to work on the floor, it has contact paper with a wood grain on it and it sags! I think I will do this, even if it's a much smaller scale, it will look so good. I can't bear to tear up what is there for fear of what is under, so I will just put the bamboo on top.
Blackdog Barker (author)  Ninzerbean5 years ago
I am sorry to say this... but.... you should rip it up and get down to a solid surface. Covering it up won't fix the problem and it can get worse... There is nothing to fear. I have fixed a rotten floor and it isn't any more difficult than putting down a hardwood floor. If you buy a box of flooring you might end up with more than you need.. You can make shelves out of flooring as well.. It would be cool for the floor and shelves to match.
You are right but I am scared of what I might find underneath... I will leave it for the next boyfriend in my life.
Blackdog Barker (author)  Ninzerbean4 years ago
I don't want to know what happened to your last boyfriend. If you do rip up the floor and subfloor, put down two or three sheets of plastic over any bare dirt before putting the sub floor back down. I talked to my father about this and the answer was moisture from a bad roof, leaky pipe or damp crall-space. All need to be fixed right away.. Good luck.. I love looking at the bones of an old building...
Maybe Ninzerbean and Blackdog Barker should hook up. He could be her new boyfriend and him and his Dad could fix her floor, make her shelves and help her get rid of the bones. ....to the building.
Blackdog Barker (author)  lesliearnold4 years ago
Uhhhh Right.... I don't think my Partner would like that all that much.. We might have too many bodies for any wood floor to cover up.. I can see the real-estate agent now. "Hold your breath and look at the lovely new floors.." A new Idea for a Ible.. How to get back on topic while being funny and not turing people off..
Now that you mention it, and even if you don't want to know, it may be the last boyfriend that is causing the dampness in the crawlspace, gosh, I thought by now he would be dried up, I will look into this right away. Don't mention this to your father, please. It seemed like a good hiding place at the time though... and I too like looking at the old bones of a... oh yeah, a building.
Blackdog Barker is right. If you still have fungus or something like that down there, it will spread unless rooted out completely.
scottiedoo4 years ago
I recently put Oak flooring in my living room. I power nailed it, but did hand nail a few parts - the first 3 rows, the last two and around the floor registers. A friend gave me the tip that you can use a nail in a drill to drill with. I used the proper fluted flooring nails. You just snip off the head so it fits into the drill chuck without any wobble and drill away. It easily drilled as well as a proper drill bit. I preferred this as I found that its easy to snap the drill bits as they`re so thin.
Blackdog Barker (author)  scottiedoo4 years ago
Yes you can use a clipped nail but I find that makes the hole a little loose and nail you drive in is a little loose.. This caused a squeak... I have 3 spots in my floor that squeak and that was one of the spots in my floor I have trouble with.. Oak might be different and you might not have the problem on the edges, but I do....
Oh how I wish the idiot that installed my parents bamboo floors had seen your instructable!! I know it isn't nice to call him an idiot, but if you saw the job he left for me to fix you would call him that or worse. I have only done laminate floor installs, so this was a good review for me on what I need to change up in installing (or should I say re-installing) their floors! Thanks for sharing the info!
I have done a lot of different floorings before doing this one. I found it no harder than vinyl or "engineered" wood flooring. There are little things with each but I was quite nervous about trying it but there was no reason to worry. The key was to take your time.. If you run into a problem look it up on the internet... (not kidding I found all the answers to my questions.)
ShadowGirl4 years ago
NIce looking job. More power to you. We just ripped out all the carpeting in our house and installed wood floors, but we had it done for a small fortune. It's hard work. I also appreciate some helpful comments from the readers. My husband and I are just finishing a stone walkway. I should have done an Instructable on that.
Blackdog Barker (author)  ShadowGirl4 years ago
Tx.. My partner would have preferred to have some one come in and do it because I took so long in finishing it. We did save a lot of money doing it our selves but it takes a lot of time. (It cost about 1/10th of what it would have)
abbtech4 years ago
Love the contrasting color of the two styles you chose. I have installed this type of flooring a few times but just did it plain and simple, the look is quite amazing when you take some time to lay it out!
Blackdog Barker (author)  abbtech4 years ago
If you do this for a living you don't have the time like I did to play. You should play with the stuff before you put it down.. Go The Extra Step and Have Fun
stickmop4 years ago
Nice. I had particle board for underlayment, and bamboo is prone to split if you don't predrill the holes, so I chose to float ~400 sq. ft. of solid bamboo instead of trying to nail it into the particleboard. It worked well and has held up well for 3 years now. Basically you nail a starter row, lay some thin foam down, glue the tongue and groove, and use webbing straps to clamp it together until the glue dries. I scored some nice bamboo off of craigslist, but I also rejected a lot of samples. You can't really rely on the advertised hardness test; better to get a sample and try to dent it with your fingernail. The good stuff won't dent.
Blackdog Barker (author)  stickmop4 years ago
Bamboo doesn't swell like wood, but you do get a little bit.. I did try floating a section but the board rub together and squeak.. Glue would help but nails work well too.. and when you hammer in the floor it drives the joints together. You are correct about the soft bamboo. But I got a great supplier here and he knows his stuff so I didn't have to go thought all the problems you did..
the map is the past earth, that is canada?
nice project!
Blackdog Barker (author)  FunnyTheBunny4 years ago
No it is a real place.. and it is a navigational chart... Good guess though..
shveet4 years ago
a pretty well made ible, for " 3 A stool as well as knee pads." you can also use a stiffer pillow. it will prevent any back pains or any other pain later on.
Blackdog Barker (author)  shveet4 years ago
I used knee pads shortly but they bit me behind the knees and I don't like them.. Using a old pillow or a garden pad would help, but a little pain is part of the deal no-matter what happens..
k-twizel5 years ago
Moser Bay, North of Akhiok, Kodiak Island
Blackdog Barker (author)  k-twizel5 years ago
Close you get a half of a prize.. It is the area inside the box I am looking for...
You're right... should have gone to the USGS site first... Olga Bay