Introduction: How to Install a Bamboo Floor

About: I earned an art degree from the Art Institute of Seattle and became a official Graphic Designer and Electronic prepress expert. To add to the tricks in my bag I have added Sign Carving and Wood Working.

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. 

Step 1: Step One, Time to Start Ripping Up the Flooring

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

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

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.

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

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.

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...

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.

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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