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.

Visit me at my Web Site



    • Gardening Contest

      Gardening Contest
    • Tape Contest

      Tape Contest
    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure

    31 Discussions


    1 year ago


    I am thoroughly impressed with your work! The fact that you created a design with the bamboo planks and relied on a drill, hammer and nail set to nail the planks down by hand is impressive!

    I was curious: how long did take you to do?

    When you were using your utility knife, were you cutting parts of the flooring with it?

    You mention to, "always lay the floor with the tongue pointing out into the unfinished part of the floor." I could not tell with the corresponding photo that you have assigned to this instruction, but, is this your tip that when laying a floor to have the tongue side always in the direction of the unfinished part of the floor, opposed to having the smooth side of your floor facing in that direction? Does this make laying the floor easier if you lay it the way you are recommending?

    The reason why I have these questions is that I am facing a project like this myself. I was debating over obtaining a compressor and the nail gun to do my nailing, but I am too chicken to even think of installing it that way

    Absolutely great job! :-)

    1 reply
    Blackdog Barkermbluetyphoon

    Reply 1 year ago

    Wow. That is a packed message and I hope I can answer all of your questions.. if miss anything or am a little muddled in my answer just ask again.. I did that floor years ago and it was a lot of time on my knees.. I guess that is the most difficult part of the whole job is always being on the floor.. Cutting the flooring was a bit of a trick I used the knife as a scribe to break the top serface, but wood filler is your friend.. I was the only person that saw my mistakes..
    keeping the tongue pointed out gives you a place for your nails to go..
    A compressor is an expensive piece and if you are not going to be useing it at least 12 times a year I would recommend renting one or do what I did and just do it by hand..
    You can get started by hand and get the ground work done and then rent a nailer later.. if you really need one..
    each board took 4 nails for the long ones.. each nail took 30 sec to predrill and 45 sec to drive it home.. a power nailer does the whole thing in 3 sec..
    it is a lot easier than you think it is.. A LOT easer.. I had some of same concerns you do and it all just snaps together..
    if you are really worried try test fitting a whole big section before taking it all back up and then nailing it down.. that could cut down on the time you might need to rent a air compressor and nail gun..

    Good luck.. but you won't need it...


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Bamboo is indeed remarkably sustainable and stylish product, it can use as flooring because of its durability. It has a natural, contemporary look that's hard to beat. Not only is it hard-wearing and environmentally friendly, it adds character to a room. I will save these beautiful bamboo installation tips for future projects with bamboo flooring melbourne projects! Thanks!


    8 years ago on Step 8

    really nice job.... highest marks on the inset border!


    8 years ago on Step 8

    me encanto muy buen trabajo, voy a empezar a hacerlo en mi pieza

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    7 replies

    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.

    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. the building.

    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.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Blackdog Barker is right. If you still have fungus or something like that down there, it will spread unless rooted out completely.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    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!

    1 reply

    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.)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    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)