Installing Bamboo Flooring

Before installing bamboo flooring, watch an installing bamboo flooring video; you may decide to hire a professional for installing your bamboo floor. There are tricks for bamboo flooring installing that can make the job faster with better results. Installing bamboo floor over fir floor with no subfloor isn’t much different than installing over plywood or OSB subfloors.

If installing floating bamboo floors over slab subfloor, take extra care so you have great results — or again, hire a professional. Bamboo flooring is beautiful and durable, and very much worth your consideration. Installing bamboo flooring isn’t hard, but hiring a professional is worth your consideration.

Installing bamboo flooring over a wood sub-floor is no more difficult that installing other wood flooring, and many homeowners find self-installation to be a great way to save money. However, installation over concrete takes more skill and expertise, and may not be worth the money you’d save by installing it yourself. Before you begin the project, it’s important to assess your capability and motivation to do the job yourself.

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Once you’ve committed to installing your bamboo floor, make sure to order an additional 7-9 percent flooring to allow for waste and cuts. Also, carefully examine the bamboo flooring for consistent color, finish, quality, and damage before you begin. As with all projects, read and have a thorough understanding the manufacturer’s installation instructions, policies and warranties because the time spent in these early stages can greatly improve the quality of your finished product.

The basic concepts for installing bamboo flooring are the same as for installing other hardwood flooring. The sub-floor must be flat, smooth, clean and preferably dry — especially if installing onto a concrete surface (and you probably should consider laying a vapor barrier between the sub-floor and bamboo.

Most bamboo floors are not covered under warranty if installed in a bathroom, washroom, saunas, or other similar wet locations — but check with the manufacturer you want to choose to make sure. Remember, bamboo flooring is a natural product that will warp or swell with extended exposure to moisture, and shrink with extended exposure to heat.

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General Preparation


As with other hardwoods, bamboo flooring must be acclimated in the room where it will be installed for 24-72 hours to ensure it adapts properly to the temperature and humidity level of the room. If you live in an arid zone, it’s advisable to have the wood acclimate in the space it’s to be installed for even longer; you want the wood to be at about the same moisture content as the humidity level in the room.

Lay Out

By laying the flooring prior to installation, you can ensure that the floor color and grain characteristics enhance the beauty of the finished floor. Being a natural product there will be variations, and the finished floor looks better if you intermix the light and dark pieces, as well as the slightly different grains.


Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions to protect your warranty.

Tapping Block

To avoid fracturing the flooring edge, use a tapping block to hit the bamboo, or a rubber-headed mallet. Never hit the bamboo flooring directly.

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Base Molding

Remove any base molding (aka baseboard or toe kick) and door thresholds before installation. Leave 1/4-1/2″ expansion space between walls, cabinets, etc. using plastic or wood spacers to accommodate expansion due to changes in moisture level. These spaces will be covered when base moldings are reinstalled.

Wood Sub-Floor: Additional Preparation

Clean and Smooth Surface

The wood sub-floor must be clean and free of all wax, grease, paint, etc. To ensure a smooth, even surface, sand the wood sub-flooring, and remove dust with vacuum and damp rag. If the floor isn’t level, sand down the high spots and fill in the low spots.


To eliminate squeaks, nail or screw the sub-flooring every six inches. This is well worth the effort because squeaking floors are a nuisance.


As recommended by the manufacturer, add a moisture barrier.

Concrete: Additional Preparation

Clean and Dry

The cement must be clean and free of all oil, stains, dust and debris, and must have all cracks and holes filled with patching material. Do not install on concrete unless it will stay dry during all seasons. Using a moisture meter, check the moisture levels in both the concrete and bamboo flooring. The difference between the two must be less than 3 percent (or 3 lbs. per 1,000 square feet, using a calcium chloride test).

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Moisture Treatment

Treat for moisture per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Vinyl: Additional Preparation

Clean and Dry

Make sure the vinyl is in good condition, clean, level and well bonded to the sub-floor.


Once your sub-floor has been prepared, your working line can be established by measuring an equal distance (the width of the plank plus 1/4″ for expansion) from the wall at both ends. Once measured, snap a chalk line. Confirm your working line by laying a few rows without glue or nails.

The three primary methods for installing bamboo flooring include the nail-down method, the glue-down method, and the floating method. Typically, the nail-down method is used with wood sub-flooring, the glue-down method is used for concrete sub-flooring, and the floating method is used for radiant heat floors, though nail-down can also be used on radiant heat floors too.

The use of each method depends upon the sub-flooring and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regardless of the method you choose, it is vital to follow the manufacturer’s instructions because they vary from company to company, and variances from these instructions may void the warranty.


Bamboo flooring can be purchased either pre-finished or unfinished. If you’ve installed unfinished flooring, sand the flooring using a floor sander as you would any other hardwood surface. After sanding the floor with a coarse grit, repeat with a medium grit and finish with a fine grit paper. Directly after sanding, apply the first coat of finish to avoid moisture absorption. Apply additional coats as recommended by the manufacturer, and as needed for traffic. Pre-finished flooring is ready to use immediately.

[Note: pre-finished bamboo planks have beveled edges so that as the imperfections of milling come into play, you won’t have ridges between planks. One advantage of unfinished bamboo flooring over pre-finished bamboo flooring is that the sanding done after the bamboo installation is complete smooths all plank edges. Then putty can be applied to any gaps, caused by the imperfections of milled wood, before the finishing coats are applied, giving a smooth surface to your new bamboo floor. With a smooth floor, there are no cracks or gaps to collect dirt. And, damage happens as bamboo is installed; there is minimal recourse with pre-finished bamboo, but with unfinished bamboo the sanding will take care of the nicks and scrapes that can happen.]

Why should you opt for bamboo flooring instead of more traditional options like oak? We like bamboo because it's environmentally friendly, quick to grow and adds an attractive contemporary look to your floor. It's also durable enough to last for a long time as long as it's installed correctly.

How to Put Your Bamboo Flooring In

Bamboo flooring installation isn't necessarily as easy as it sounds – just laying down flooring – simply because a good-looking floor should run perfectly parallel to your walls and improper installation can actually reduce its durability. Most people prefer to hire a professional for exactly this reason.

However, it usually takes less than a day and you'd be surprised by how much a better-looking floor can improve the overall appearance of a room. If you decide to do it yourself, it's usually cheaper but you also should make sure to do it right the first time so that your bamboo flooring remains attractive for a long period of time.

Step 1: Create a reference for laying down the first few rows

This is usually done by drawing out a reference line that runs parallel to either the exterior wall, which is usually the straightest, or the longest wall in the room and then laying down a batten board that's perfectly parallel to either the exterior wall or the longest wall in the room.

This provides a reference guide to putting down the first few rows and will be removed once they're in place.

Step 2: Start putting in flooring

Use an 18-inch nail driver to secure the shoulder of the first board. The nails should go in at an angle so they don't interfere with putting in subsequent boards. If a different type of flooring borders the new bamboo flooring installation, leave a one-inch gap between the existing flooring and the new. This leaves room for a transition strip and avoids damage to existing flooring.

Step 3: Add another row of planks

Before you start with the next row of planks, make sure everything is straight and lined up with the batten board. The next row should start with a shorter segment of wood to stagger the seams.

This reduces wear and tear on the ends of the wood planks so your floor lasts longer. Make sure the seams are lined up straight as you add the new rows.

Step 4: Remove batten board and add spline

Once you're sure everything is going in perfectly straight and parallel with the walls, remove the batten board.

The spline you add in its place should be twice the width and the same height as the tongues of the wood planks you've been adding. Put a small amount of glue in the groove of the plank that is nailed to the floor and gently tap the spine into place.

Step 5: Add the last row

Now that you have most of the flooring added, you may notice that there's a gap that isn't wide enough for a full-width plank.

This is where you'll want to cut back remaining planks to the required width and use a pry bar to position the planks. Add finish nails to the face of the board near the wall and use molding to cover the nail heads.

Step 6: Inspect the work

Actually, it's usually easier to inspect the work at each step in the process because you can still correct mistakes before the work is completed. Every row should go in perfectly straight.

If you're close to the end and things don't seem to be quite right, look for where you might have gone wrong even if it means taking up a few rows and reapplying them in a straighter fashion.

Step 7: Take good care of your bamboo floor

Your bamboo floor installation looks perfect now, but you still want to care for it properly to make sure it lasts. If liquid is spilled on it, the spill should be dried with a dry towel before it has a chance to soak in.

When you mop, you should use a cleaner that is designed specifically for wood floors and the mop should only be lightly dampened. Floor protectors should be placed under the legs of heavy furniture to protect the floor and keep the furniture from sliding. 

If you must move furniture, get help with the heavy lifting so you don't have to slide furniture across the floor. Remove shoes or wipe your feet before walking on the floor when you come in from outside. If you wear high heels, avoid walking on the floor if possible to avoid damage to the floor caused by the heels.

111 thoughts on “Installing Bamboo Flooring

  1. we recently installed a bamboo floor, pre-finished, in the master bedroom.we have found many finger marks and oily spots on the surface. What can be used to remove these marks?

  2. Are the finger marks and oily spots *in* the finish or were they put there by the installers?
    If it was the installers who added the marks, try using diluted vinegar to cut through the marks. Use 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar in a gallon of water (distilled water if you have lots of minerals in your water) and either spray it on and wipe it off with a towel or terry dust mop, or use a sponge to wash and a towel to dry.

  3. Can I glue down bamboo over linoleum? It’s in good shape and well bonded to the concrete. My only concern is that the adhesive says it should be used with wood or concrete. It doesn’t say not to use it over linoleum, but it doesn’t include it either. Thanks!

  4. Yes, you can install bamboo flooring over linoleum, or vinyl even. The condition of the floor needs to be smooth for a good installation — which you say it is.
    Call the manufacturer of the adhesive to find out if they recommend it for linoleum and vinyl. And look around to see if there are other adhesives that will work there too. I also suggest finding a low VOC adhesive so you don’t pollute your indoor air and endanger your health.
    Have you considered a floating floor instead of a glue-down floor?

  5. We recently installed prefinished natural vertical bamboo flooring. Can you recommend a color/brand of putty or something we can use to fill the top nail holes and gaps? I can’t find anything that would work at the big box stores.

  6. When my horizontal-cut bamboo flooring was installed the installer used a putty to cover the nail holes, and the putty has slowly come out, exposing the nails. I can’t remember what the product was he used, and I’ll keep looking for the material, but I don’t know if it was the wrong product or wrong installation.
    I love my bamboo floors anyway.
    Look at a furniture-finish store for such products and call an installer to ask if they sell such a product. And try MinWax products — they tend to be reliable.
    Good luck.

  7. I would like to install bamboo over lino on our main floor. There is a 1/4 inch layer of particle board underneath the lino which is nailed into the sub floor (plywood).
    If nailing it down, is the particle board a concern? I’ve heard you are not supposed to install over particle board as the nails will not stick in particle board, but they should go through it and into the ply wood.
    Can I install the bamboo in this fashion?

  8. Assuming you are using a nail gun to install your bamboo flooring, that’s one heck of a staple/nail that would be big enough to go through the linoleum, the particle board, and into the plywood. Have you considered doing the bamboo as a floating floor instead?

  9. Our house sits on a concrete slab and we need to replace the carpet and I was hoping to do that with Bamboo. We will have a pro do it but what should I expect the pro to tell me that needs to be done. Will Bamboo work over the slab?

  10. Bamboo will indeed work well over a slab. Be sure to install a vapor barrier between the concrete and the bamboo. And do acclimate the bamboo to your indoor climate before installing it. Manufacturer’s say give it several days to acclimate indoors, but depending on your climate, you may want it to acclimate for longer than that; weeks, even months, could be necessary. Your installer can check the moisture content of the wood before installing it.

  11. We have purchased bamboo flooring and are wanting to install in our bedroom. It is a concrete slab and we would like to use the plywood and nail down method. Are there any precautions that we should take with the flooring other than laying down a vapor barrier between the concrete and plywood? Is it better to pre-drill holes in to the tongues of the bamboo before nailing to the plywood?

  12. The vapor barrier is a good idea. Another precaution I urge is to acclimate the flooring to your home, and ideally to your bedroom, for a week or more before installing it. Acclimating it involves taking it out of its packaging and separating it as much as possible so air can circulate around each board.
    Stapling the bamboo in the tongue is much better than nailing it. It’s faster and easier on the wood. Come to think of it, stapling is easier on you too.
    Enjoy your new bamboo flooring!

  13. I’m preparing to install my new bamboo floor but I’m a little confused. Installing a floating floor seems like it would be much easier and economical than a nail down or a messy glue down but everything I have read about installing bamboo says you sould nail it down. I’m installing it over a plywood subfloor with #15 tar paper. Should I rent a staple gun or go for the floating floor?

  14. First, where is the tar paper? Are you using it as a vapor barrier? Tar paper is a moisture barrier but not a vapor barrier.
    Now to your question. I’ve not seen the comment you shouldn’t let a bamboo floor float. I know my installer went for the “nail down” approach — making sure to get short enough staples so as to not penetrate the OSB subfloor and damage the pipes for my in-floor heat — rather than a floating floor approach. But if you keep reading to not let a bamboo floor float, and your manufacturer advises against it, then go with the “nail down” installation.
    And yes, rent a staple gun. It makes the job wonderfully fast and easy.

  15. We’ve finished with our bamboo floor using the glue-down method, and it looks great. But now I have lots of glue smudges and fingerprints on the surface. Can you recommend a good method of getting that off? I tried the vinegar you recommended, but that didn’t seem to cut through it. Maybe acetone?

  16. It’s time for a delicate operation — cleaning up the glue. With great care, gently dab mineral spirits onto the glue until it comes up. Be careful to not get too much on the flooring surface so you don’t damage the finish. Be sure to wash the spots with clear water when you are done to remove all remnants of the mineral spirits.
    When the glue in removed you may have to buff the fingerprints with a soft cloth– if they are just body oil and not glue smudges — to get the clean surface you want.

  17. Hi-my friend and I are learning how to install floating engineered bamboo flooring, glue required for the joints. We are following the manufacturer’s instructions and using the recommended materials, and checked dry fit on several boards from different boxes first to ensure we have a tight fit on all joints (no milling defects, tight boards). We also checked that the plywood subfloor was level, clean, and solid. However, as soon as we start tapping joints together firmly after putting the glue on, it’s a constant battle to keep all previously set joints firmly together (as we tap hard to get one joint together tightly, another joint on another board gaps a little). It doesn’t happen on every board, just enough to make installation extremely laborious. Any hints or tips on how to beat this? Thanks!

  18. You are showing me why my installer chose the nail-down approach. The boards, by nature of being natural products, aren’t going to be perfect. That lack of perfection makes for the challenges you are finding.
    My suggestion, if you are going to stay with the glue-down method, is to have both of you working on placing a board, finding the happy balance between the two ends being in as tight as they can be before going on to the next board.
    If you want to change to nail-down, you’ll still have those challenges, but it’s at least aided by the fact you are stapling the boards so they stay put.
    Good luck. Let us know what you end up doing.

  19. HI,

  20. Are some areas not level because the floor is different heights? That can happen when the builder plans for different flooring materials — like carpet, tile and linoleum — and wants their surfaces to be the same height, so different thicknesses of subfloor are installed to accommodate the different heights of flooring.
    If that’s the case in your situation, you need to install thin sheets of subfloor to bring the heights up to the same level across the floor so your bamboo flooring is the same height.
    You may have to use something else to float the floor surfaces to the same height if there is a different problem than I’ve described.
    But maybe you meant something else by the floors aren’t even. In which case you need to give me more detail so I can respond to that.
    I personally am a big fan of the nail-down style of installing bamboo.


  22. You need to get rid of the concrete blobs so the subfloor, which is probably OSB (oriented strand board) or plywood, is even. If you have a warped subfloor you may want to fill the depressions in with thin layers mastic or glue, built up until the floor is level.
    If you put effort into making the floor level you’ll be more content with the bamboo installation. Don’t skip this preparation step! It may slow down the actual installation and you may live in a work zone longer than you want, but it’s well worth the hassle, inconvenience and effort.

  23. We had a professional floor installation done one year ago on concrete using bamboo flooring. We live in California where we have only had a few drops of rain in the past two years. The concrete was tested with a meter and was 3 or under everywhere the floor was to be installed. The floor slowly started warping about six months out, now a year later, we have a huge bubble in the middle of the living room and long areas of lifting and warping. We repiped the house before the floor was laid. We have had two leak dectection experts look for leaks and perform leak dectection tests. They both say there are no leaks. The floor was installed with a Franklin vapor barrier. Their rep came out and said they do not warrantee their barrier with bamboo, ever. Finally, our installer did a sodium chloride test and it came out as a 6. This was done two days after a very heavy rainfall, the first in many months. The installer still insists we must have a slab leak. My husband and I are desperate. We keep going round and round in circles and don’t know what to do. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

  24. I will be installing a bamboo floor over a concrete using the glue method I need to install an underlayment that can be a moisture barrier,vapour barrier and has a good noice barrier as i live in a highrise building could you tell me what is the best option sould I be applying the glue over the underlayment.
    Thank you

  25. You might try installing cork underlayment first. It will add to your flooring cost, but it will help reduce noise transfer. The glue will act as the vapor barrier.
    Let us know what you did and the results.
    You’ll love your bamboo floor.

  26. Hi,I live in norhtern Ohio,and would like to install bamboo in front foyer that will carry into bathroom.I will be going over concrete slab.I assume the glue down method will be best suited for this application,anything else I should know before installing??

  27. You could also consider doing a floating floor.
    Consider cork or foam insulation below the bamboo.
    You might also consider having the bamboo sanded and sealed after installation to give it a more durable finish and to fill in the cracks that naturally happen between the bamboo boards.
    I personally like the look of the bamboo stretching from the foyer to the bathroom without an expansion strip, but some manufacturers want you to put in an expansion strip as you change rooms. I didn’t do that and am having no problems.

  28. I just had stranded (woven) bamboo installed and my-oh-my is it gorgeous. I referred to your website to learn about removing glue with mineral spirits. Thank you. Now I am alarmed to read that I may have needed a vapor/moisture barrier. I live in Austin, Texas and we have lots of humidity. Right now I am using a de-humidifier. Of course, I cannot get the installer to call me back. The flooring was installed with mapei glue directly on a 30-40 year old cement slab. Anyway, my question is this….without having a vapor/moisture barrier installed, is my floor going to warp and bubble and generally become a waste of $2000??
    -Worried in Austin-

  29. The glue will act as a vapor barrier. Humidity isn’t a problem with your bamboo floor, though a high water table might be. If you don’t have a high water table you should be fine with the installation you have. The humidity might even be good for your floor.
    One of the advantages of bamboo flooring is that it’s engineered, making it more durable in the face of humidity, dryness, and temperature variations. Enjoy your bamboo floor.

  30. I was preparing to install bamboo flooring in three bedrooms. I pulled up the carpet in one and to my dismay, there was old vinyl tiling, probably from the 70’s when my house was built. At the time, I didn’t know this, so I started to scrape up the old tiles, thinking this would be the best idea. I then went to Home Depot and was informed it probably contains asbestos and I should stop immediately. What should I do? Can I install over this old vinyl flooring? Since I removed a corner of the tiling already, how would I level it off? Is there some other solution?
    P.S. I am pregnant and actually my friend is going to be doing the installation… I was just helping to remove the carpet. I am, however, concerned about exposure to glue. Will I be ok if I am in a different room if the room is well-ventilated with door shut?

  31. You want to level the area where you removed the tiles, maybe with the scraps you pulled up if they are in big enough pieces. Then you can lay the bamboo on top of the old flooring.
    You have several options for laying your new bamboo flooring: nailing, floating, and gluing. You are wise to be concerned about the glue VOCs. The best glue I know of is Bostik’s Best flexible urethane adhesive, but it’s not VOC-free (no glue is that is worth it’s weight, from what I know). And even with lots of ventilation for that one room the glue will off-gas for a long time.
    Floating often requires gluing, so it may not be an ideal approach either. Nailing may be your best option. Be sure to have a nail/staple that’s long enough to go through the bamboo, the tile and into the subfloor.

  32. Hello. I’m on the 4th floor of a 5 yr. old condominium complex.
    Per the condo association, I had to purchase 1/4″ cork underlayment. I have also purchased 6mm polyethylene film to go over the concrete slab.
    My question, can I float (everything)?
    My plans were to:
    -Remove carpeting and tack strips (done).
    -Make sure the concrete slab is flat and free of debris (in progress).
    -Lay down the polyethylene film (next)
    -Lay down the cork underlayment (floating, no glue)
    -Lay down the bamboo (floating, no glue).
    What do you think?
    Am I on the right track?

  33. Things to consider for you float your bamboo floor are whether you are going to click or glue it, how much expansion space to leave around the perimeter, how you’ll abut this to spaces like a fireplace, and how long to acclimate it before installation (give it longer than most manufacturer’s suggest). If the bamboo flooring manufacturer says the product is able to be floated you can proceed in generally the direction you are headed.
    My concern is that with three layers of material floating, you are going to get product wrinkling as the bamboo expands an contracts. My suggestion is to forget the vapor barrier and glue the cork underlayment to the concrete. The glue will act as a vapor barrier and keep the cork in place when the bamboo shifts. The best glue for the job is Bostik’s Best flexible urethane adhesive . Then you can float the bamboo over that. You should be quite happy with the results.

  34. A vapor barrier can be created in several ways, but it keeps moisture barred from entering a designated space. The point here is to keep moisture from being wicked through the concrete into the bamboo flooring.
    Since you are probably gluing your bamboo to your concrete, the glue can act as the vapor barrier, assuming you use the right glue. I favor Bostik’s Best flexible urethane adhesive for projects like you are tackling.
    Another option for a vapor barrier is a product that looks like black plastic sheeting. Raven Industries makes a fantastic film vapor barrier you could put down on your concrete floor prior to installing a floating bamboo floor. I have concern that as the bamboo expands and contracts it will either move the film or tear it — and in either case it won’t be effective.

  35. We purchased some bamboo flooring for our house and started installing it with polyurethane glue. Unfortunately it got messy and we ended up getting glue fingerprints and smudges all over the floor. I tried mineral spirits to get it off and nothing happened. What do I do? Do I refinish the floors after I am done installing? Do I tear up the floors and start over? Please help.

  36. I had a similar problem with glue on my bamboo floor. We used paint thinner and Q-tips, very lightly dabbing at the glue smudges and prints until the glue was gone so as to not damage the finish. Then we rinsed the area carefully to remove the paint thinner, and all was good.
    Let me urge you to test it on a scrap first to make sure it works for your glue and with your technique. If it doesn’t work, let’s brainstorm on some other ideas.

  37. Hi, I have pretty much the same question as Mack:
    I have 3/8″ particle board over cardeck(basically tongue and grooved 2x6s), I’d like to leave the PB in place and nail/staple through to the decking. Have you heard on anyone who’s done this successfully? We’re using 5/8″ bamboo flooring.

  38. Good question. The decking is oriented in the same direction that we want to run bamboo. I’m worried about evenness(?) if I nail it directly to the decking.

  39. I agree you need the PB between the bamboo and the decking. I meant to ask why nailing to the PB wasn’t sufficient. It’s reasonable the PB run perpendicular to the decking and that the bamboo run that direction too.
    How much weather will your bamboo flooring get? I can’t tell if this is an indoor or outdoor application.

  40. HI,
    I am planning on installing a bamboo floor over an above grade concrete slab. I would like to glue it down, but understand that a vapor barrier should be installed first. How is this accomplished? Is there a vapor barrier that is glued down first and the bamboo glued to it?

  41. This issue has been covered several times in this topic thread. Read through to get the information you need, and links to products that will be helpful to you.
    An above grade slab won’t have very different issues from a below grade slab, so you don’t need to worry about that. And the differences are positive (no seeping water, for example) too.

  42. I am getting ready to install 5/8″ Bamboo 30 year warranty “grass” flooring with 2″ staples in my Staple gun. What is the distance between each staple that you recommend. (How many inches between etc. as I shoot the staples thru the tongued section)
    I have particle board as my base in my upstairs great room.
    Jeff with the future grass floor.
    PS- Your web page is great! :-)

  43. Assuming a 4′ board length you most likely won’t need more than four or five staples per board. Four is probably enough, unless the board has a slight warp to it and you can straighten it out with a fifth staple to keep it straight. Staples can be used about every 10-12″ for the most secure installation.
    I trust you don’t have in-floor radiant heat. If so, don’t use such a long staple, to avoid piercing the piping.
    Enjoy that bamboo floor!

  44. I am getting ready to install 5/8 inch bamboo on a subfloor that consists of: 1 inch thick (true 1 inch, not 3/4) pine that runs diagonally across the joists. On top of that are 3/4″ thick hardwood strips that run perpendicular to the joists. On top of that is a layer of vinyl that is firmly attached. My question: Do I really need to put a moisture barrier between this substantial subfloor and the bamboo?

  45. I don’t know what the vapor barrier qualities of vinyl are so can’t be sure if it works for that purpose. But if you didn’t have the vinyl I’d say you absolutely need a vapor barrier because wood doesn’t act in that capacity. The amount of wood you have indeed would slow the passage of moisture, but it wouldn’t stop it.
    If your area is very humid and/or you have a high water table, and the floor is over a crawl space, I’d seriously consider using a vapor barrier, as the one produced by Raven Industries (see my Raven Industries article to learn more about it) to ensure your bamboo flooring isn’t impacted by moisture coming from the ground.

  46. Hi,
    My flooring has been stacked in the garage for 2 weeks in 105 degree weather. Our house is air conditioned at aobut 78 degrees. I have one week to get this floor done before my preschool starts back. What should I do? How do I acclimate? Should i take it back and get a fresh bunch that’s been in the same aproximate climate as my home? ie Home Depot? Bring it in, take it out of the box and have the guy lay it out on the floor and sit a few days?
    Thank you,

  47. Hi Marsha,
    The ideal process is to have your flooring in the building where you plan to install it – better yet, the same room. I don’t know how long the flooring manufacturer of your product recommends to let it acclimate, but the longer the better. Usually, all that is required is to have the boxes/bundles of wood sitting on the floor to get used to their new surroundings. I’m really not sure if it’s going to acclimatize any faster if you get a new batch, it can’t hurt, but I don’t know that it’ll help any – especially if they have to retrieve it from a hot warehouse.

  48. I’m getting ready to install a 5/8 bamboo floor and wondered which work better staples or nails ? Do you recomend a specific gun? Thanks, Kim

  49. Hi Kim,
    I personally think that a nail gun works better. I don’t think the brand of the gun matters much so long as it works well, drives the nails consistently and is comfortable for your hand.

  50. I just purchased 650 square feet of Bamboo flooring and I want to install my self in my basement. Based on everything I’m reading it sounds like glueing it to the concrete slab is going to challenging. I am a bit worried that the moisture may be a problem. Is their something I can put down before hand to prevent having any moisture issues? I have installed 2 sets of hardwood floors in the past but have been above grade and have been tounge and groove nail down. Any advice would be appreciated.

  51. Carlos, gluing to the slab wouldn’t be so bad, but I think with your concerns about moisture you may want to put a moisture-proof subfloor down first, and then you could “nail” the bamboo down. Read the various articles about moisture-proofing your basement to see if you get some good ideas for your situation.
    Good luck with the project. You’ll love that bamboo.

  52. Carlos, I just remembered that if you use the “right” glue it will act as a vapor barrier. My favorite glue is Bostik’s Best glue because it expands and shrinks with temperature changes. It’s a one-part, moisture-cure, urethane adhesive, and will act like a vapor barrier.

  53. Hi. We have a guy nailing the morningside threaded bamboo flooring right now. It’s hard as a rock. He’s using staples of some sort and firing them into the lower groove to affix to the wood subfloor. There’s a lot splintering going on around the impact site of the staple. Normal or is my guy using the wrong pressure with his gun? Someone told me to run a room temperature warm wax stick along the groove to help cut down on the impact splintering. Do I have an issue?

  54. Hi Steve,
    I know somebody who has bamboo flooring, I’m hoping she’ll be a long in a bit to chime in on this one.
    I’m thinking it has to do with the nail gun and the nails being used, so I did some google-ing to see if I could find an answer. You can do the same as well. ;o)
    Look at this thread by clicking here. Some folks have really done their homework there.

  55. Hi, great site! I am installing Morning Star Horizontal carbonized in my walk-in closet and bathroom sink area (separate from shower area). Well the floor I did first is in the walk-in closet and it is perfect. The floor I just installed yesterday in the sink/hallway area snaps like an old house! No squeeking, snapping or popping. In the walk-in I used a staple gun from H.Depot, but I hand nailed the rest of the floor in the sink area. I spaced the nails 2″ apart. Should I have used a staple gun to secure the boards? Thanks for advice!

  56. hello,
    what type or kind of nail do I use? exactly where does the nail go on the tongue part? do you have any ideas for the baseboard to use with the bamboo?

  57. Hi Cannon,
    Sounds like you need to visit the manufacturer’s website or a DIY (do-it-yourself) website for detailed instructions. You can call the manufacturer too. Most installers use nail guns. A lot of people hire a professional for bamboo flooring installation because it tends to split, chip, splinter, etc. during installation. You can do it yourself, so long as you take the time to learn about it first.
    Remember, it is vital to follow the manufacturer’s instructions because they vary from company to company, and variances from these instructions may void the warranty.

  58. Hi Cannon,
    I checked with a friend of mine who had bamboo flooring installed, and the installers used a staples (with a staple gun) for the T&G and something akin to finish nails where they couldn’t access the T&G. She also made the comment that installing bamboo flooring is best left to professionals, in her opinion, due to the reasons I mentioned in the post above. At least that way, if it gets screwed up, it’s not your fault but the installers.
    Oh, forgot to address your question about baseboard. Any baseboard that’s thick enough to cover the expansion gap will work, and choose something that fits your home decor. I know, not much help, but you didn’t include information on what kind of colors you’re using, or if you want the baseboard to coordinate with the walls or the floor. ;~)

  59. Hi,
    We had a guy install bamboo flooring in a small bedroom by glueing to concrete floor. Gorgeous result, beautiful hardwood floor.
    BUT–the bamboo apparently got permanently stained on its surface, by his hands during the process. (fingerprint marks, etc.) I don’t know how to get them off. Plus, the stains are not glue but I think they are a glue by-product like oil, sweat, dirt, glue vapors, etc. Even if he wore gloves (which he should have), how to prevent glue vapors from imprinting the bamboo when installing in the future? He has to touch the bamboo surfaces during install. DIY folks say ‘wipe down’ during install to prevent all this; but I am not sure plain water will do it, if it is glue vapors…what to use during install to wipe down?!?!?

  60. You can try using a vinegar/water mixture and see if that takes care of it. If it doesn’t, then it’s time for a delicate operation — cleaning up the glue. With great care, gently dab mineral spirits onto the glue until it comes up. Be careful to not get too much on the flooring surface so you don’t damage the finish. Be sure to wash the spots with clear water when you are done to remove all remnants of the mineral spirits.
    When the glue in removed you may have to buff the fingerprints with a soft cloth– if they are just body oil and not glue smudges — to get the clean surface you want.
    I’ve also heard of a more unconventional approach for adhesive residue – don’t know if it works on other problems, like those from body oil, etc. Use a small amount of “Goo Gone” and “Bon Ami” on a paper towel and gently rub with the grain over any traces of adhesive. Quickly wipe off the mixture with a slightly damp towel and then thoroughly dry. Bon Ami is a mild abrasive that mixed with the Goo gone is just enough to do the trick. You may notice a slightly less shiny appearance after using this, however it is not enough that anyone but you would notice. Certainly much better than the smudged adhesive look.
    If the glue was latex based, you might try using a SOS pad – not the steel wool ones, but the kind made of plastic fibers. There’s two kinds, the kind for tougher scrubbing and delicate. Use the delicate. Sometimes this works. Don’t scrub hard though and be sure to take a damp rag to clean up afterwards or microfiber cloth. You can also use a dry microfiber cloth to kind of ‘buff’ it afterwards.
    You can also call the manufacturer – I’m sure they’ve heard of this numerous times and can also make recommendations.

  61. How do you fill in gaps in a pre finished bamboo floor?
    Two weeks after installation I noticed a 1/4 inch gap running the length of my floor and ther minor gaps. The floor was installed in the cold weather. Now that it is warm the gap has closed a little, but is still noticable as it is in the middle of my living room. The inspector said it is not the floor, but the installers liability. They suggest filling it in with putty, but I am concerned about the putty cracking and needing replacement over time. I am wondering if the best thing to do is to have the floor replaced even though it will be difficult?

  62. Hi ksmith,
    I would suggest giving the installers a call, and perhaps even the manufacturer. What brand did you use (just out of curiosity).
    I agree with the inspector, it should be the liability of the installer – the size of the gap in unacceptable. I wouldn’t do anything yourself yet. The floor would still be under warranty from the manufacturer, what kind of warranty (if any) did you get from the installer on their work?

  63. We contracted for a bamboo floor. We had the old tile floor revoved and the slab cleaned dorn to nothing but concrete. We have waited for several weeks, no water leaks, home A/C on lower than we usually keep it. The installers came out to prep the floor and said that the slab would never be dry enough to have bamboo. This is a thirty+ year old house with no foundation problems. I really don’t understand.

  64. I am wondering if you know how flexible bamboo really is. Our installer obviously thought bamboo is easy to install, but never actually installed it. He had trouble with the psi, the nail guns and– flatness.
    The floor is fully installed. And we are the big losers. He shimmed the floor, but it just created voids and dips everywhere. Level, but not nearly flat. It feels like a cheap floating floor. This is the 1/2″ Teragren Synergy. It seems like a great product, and gorgeous. But obviously the installer treated it like 3/4 hardwood.
    I have full access to the subfloor from the basement. Do you think I could drill 3/8″ holes up through the subfloor and inject PL Premium? Do you think this would fill the voids??
    Please help!

  65. Hi Eric,
    Bamboo flooring is very hard and because of this hardness, it’s not known for it’s flexibility. Some installers are even known to have special nail guns that they use just for bamboo – well, not really *special*, just that apparently certain brands/models work better than others for bamboo floors. Many nail guns have problems with chipping/splitting/splintering the boards just because bamboo is so dense (and thereby hard and brittle). This may sound like a bad thing, but it’s not – bamboo is so durable because of it’s hardness!
    Anyhoo, back to your question about drilling up through the subfloor and injecting PL Premium…….. Honestly, I haven’t the faintest idea if this will work, but I suppose it’s worth a shot. Have you voiced your dissatisfaction to the installer? Seems to me he should have to replace the floor since he screwed it up so royally, which could very well mean purchasing new flooring and hiring somebody who is experienced at installing bamboo flooring. He’d be the loser (in terms of money), but if he cares about his reputation he should be willing to say that “Hey, I screwed up, but I’ll make it right, no matter what it takes”.

  66. In the article, it is mentioned that bamboo can be installed over existing vinyl/linoleum flooring if it is in good condition and not peeling. Is there any special consideration in getting the sub-floor ready? The linoleum in the house I just bought looks shiny as if it is coated with some kind of finish. I suppose it would be the glue-down method. Is there a special glue you need to glue onto vinyl?

  67. There’s not really a “special” glue, just make sure that the product you use will adhere to vinyl – be sure to ask for recommendations where you’re shopping. Roughing up the surface of the vinyl really well with very rough sandpaper will help to insure adhesion. If it doesn’t look like it’s getting roughed up very well because of the finish, you may need to strip the finish first. Some products recommend stripping the finish first to begin with.

  68. We had a Morning Star farms Natural Strand Bamboo floor installed this summer. We live in a ground-level ranch house in Sarasota Fl. Our house was built in the 70’s so the floor has been there a while. We tore up the existig tile floor, had it “preped” and somewhat leveled. We used the recommended glue (Bostik best)but did not use the moisture barrier because we were told by several installers that if the floor was wet (which we do not think it was – I did a test in several areas taping plastic down and waiting a week) then the moisure barrier would not help. Since it was very expensive, we decided agains it.
    Anyway, after about a month I started noticing boards here and there that were “splintering” or showing signs of damage on the surface which ran several inches long (with the grain of the boards). These boards are random across the entire floor. I wish I could post a picture so you could see what I mean. The “damage” is totally unaceptable and will need to be replaced (meaning that eventually we will replace the floor – with tile). To me this seems like a defect of the wood, not really due to the installation process or anything we have done since. Do you have and suggestions as to what may have gone wrong? I could understand if it was certain areas but it is so random. Are there things that go wrong with this type of flooring that may have made it defective? It is such a shame because I LOVE this floor and it does not scratch easily at all.
    Thanks for your help.

  69. If I had to guess, I’d say it was because the floor underneath was only ‘somewhat leveled’. This will cause stress on the bamboo. Was the bamboo acclimated before installation? If not, this can also cause problems.
    While you might not have a moisture problem, you still might have widely varying humidity which can also cause bamboo to crack due to expansion and contraction. This doesn’t happen very often though.
    There is always the possibility that the wood was defective, I know I have read lots of complaints about this type of problem (as well as scratching and gouging easily).
    A moisture barrier, depending on what kind was used, may have helped to level your under floor further and might have prevented at least some of this.
    I don’t know what to tell you, I don’t know if you’ll get any results from the manufacturer or installer. I’d start off with a ‘vague’ call to the manufacturer. You may have to get forensic tests run on the flooring. Good luck!

  70. Thanks for your comments. We will see where we get with Lumber Liquidators. I feel sick knowing how difficult the floor will be to remove and replace. We just survived our kitchen remodel (this was part of the whole project).
    I have another question:
    Should a small amount of water, say 1/4 c spilled on the floor cause ALOT of damage? Just today the cats knocked over a plant in one of the rooms with this bamboo flooring in it and about 1/4 to 1/3 c of water spilled and sat for what I assume was a few hours. Now 3 or 4 more boards are ruined.
    I had hardwood floors for years up north and I never remember so much trouble with water.
    We obviously cannot be trusted with a wood floor!
    If this is normal, ok, but it just seem so excessive for the amount of water – almost like there is no protection at all on the wood.

  71. I don’t know if this is normal or not for this brand of flooring. I would certainly hope not! If you have this floor replaced (and I sincerely do wish you luck!) I would recommend asking the manufacturer what kind of finish they would recommend in addition to what is already on it.
    Either this is a really poor quality flooring product or a bad batch. *sigh* I really feel for you, what a nightmare!

  72. I am thinking about using bamboo flooring 5/8 thick solid flooring I am wanting to naii it wright to the old oak floor my house is on piers in south texas, by the sea I have central air and heat should I put a vaper barrier down and what else do I need to know also do you khow anything about homeledgend bamboo brand flooring

  73. Hi Tim,
    If you’ve taken the time to read the article and look through all the comments then you should be pretty well armed. As far as home legend brand, I recommend that you do some homework by searching the internet for info.

  74. Hi – I just purchased about 500 sq ft of pre-finished bamboo. I have a second floor condo with a concrete subfloor. I ripped up all of the carpet and am finishing up the preparation. Since I’m on the second level, we have no moisture present at all. However, I think in order for the warranty to be good, I need to use the moisture barrier. There are a couple of spots I think I need to fill with leveling compound in order to make the floor perfectly level. I do not plan on using any underlayment such as cork. Is taht ok? Also, what is so tricky about the glue down method as opposed to nail down? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  75. Hi Matt,
    A good reason for using an underlayment is to muffle sounds that can be heard on the floor beneath yours. Up to you.
    I’m not aware as to why the glue down method would be ‘tricky’ – I would think that it’d be trickier to nail down the wood on a concrete subfloor! Nailing bamboo can be tricky anyway, because it has a tendency to split.
    Do be sure to let your flooring acclimate before laying it.

  76. I have a below grade concrete floor (raised ranch) that was painted before we put carpeting down 8 years ago. My wife bought Morning Star bamboo engineered flooring and we want to use the right glue for the job. When i took the carpet up, there we areas that showed some calcium chloride deposits, but doesn’t look like anything close to the 3lbs per 1000sq ft test that I saw online. So, do I need to put a moisture barrier down (like, vinyl or another Bostik product), or just go with the Bostik Best?

  77. Hi
    I need help – I had a local handy man insatll my pre-finished bamboo floor, for some reason, when he finished I had white spots all over floor, He them sanded and polyurethaned the floor, It looks horrific. Do you think a wood store installation store or expert would be able to correct the problem? Please help

  78. Hi Kim,
    Can you give me a visual idea of what ‘horrific’ looks like? Any idea what caused the white spots? Yes, I think that a real flooring ‘expert’ would be able to take care of it but geez, it’s really your local handy man who should make this right for you at his own expense. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to deal with him again though. Small claims court might also be something to consider – take pics of your floor if you think you may want to pursue that option to try to get at least some of the money back that you paid for his service.

  79. Hello Flooring Lady
    Just wondering if you might have any ideas for me. We are in the process of installing bamboo flooring. It looks greats, the packages are all opened and acclimatizing to my house. Now the problem begins. We are using a pneumatic floor stapler/nailer and the recommended 2″ staples only go into the grove abit leaving the staple above the board at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches. This is our sample board. The air compresser is at the proper PSI as recommended. The floor stapler is brand new. Help. I’m ready to pull out my hair. My house is in shambles and I can’t take the bamboo back. The store where I bought it from had no clue on how to install their own product. Not much help there. I’ve had 3 carpenters come to give advise. Nothing is helping. I can’t glue it down because of the moisture barrier underneath. Any ideas for me. Tks. Take care

  80. How long do you really need your staples to be? If you can get by with shorter ones, then I’d try that for starters. You could also try adjusting the air compressor to a little higher PSI. It is possible that the stapler itself is defective – it’s happened before. Who manufactured the flooring? The manufacturer would be your best bet for advice.

  81. Hi Flooring Lady,
    My husband and I just bought a new home that needs A LOT of TLC. To combat existing pet odors, we have painted everything-walls, ceiling, and floors. We were planning on installing Morning Star’s Strand Carbonized Bamboo (5/8″) with staples. Then my uncle who installs floors said the staples sometimes leave dimples in the flooring, and that the most effective method he has found is with Liquid Nails and finishing nails. After some reading, we are worried that we can’t glue over the painted plywood subfloor. What would you recommend? Can we glue over the paint, or should we risk the dimples with the staples? Thanks a ton!

  82. Hi Cailey, Since the subfloor is painted, I would not recommend gluing it. You could attempt sanding it but that’s no guarantee. you are concerned about the dimpling, you could install Luan subfloor which is a 1/4″ plywood over the painted subfloor and proceed with the installation of the bamboo from there.

    Otherwise,I would go with the staples.

  83. The upstairs in my house has unfinished pine plank subfloors. The bamboo flooring I’ve been looking at is tongue and groove and on the box they recommend a certain glue. I think I would rather nail or staple it down. Could we do that?

  84. Vicki,
    Very true you when installing bamboo over sub-wood floor you should use staples or nails that are specific to the floor you are installing. Consult a local professional as to the type of staples or nails to use.

  85. My husband and I are interested in installing a bamboo plank floor, but when reading the installation instructions, they said not to install over particle board. We have OSB floors and aren’t sure if that is considered particle board or not.
    Can we install the nail down variety of bamboo flooring over OSB?

  86. If you read this entire thread you’ll find the answer to your question, and more! There’s lots more information here than what your installation instructions tell you and experiences people have had with installing bamboo flooring.

    Good luck!

  87. We’re planning to install floating bamboo floors in our 2nd floor condo. When we pulled up some of the carpet, we saaw concrete nad planned accordingly. But when my husband began to pull up carpet near the foyer, we discovered ceramic tile with grout lines. It also is installed at angles to the living room and hallway, which I imagine complicates our installation.
    We are planning on underlayment but haven’t decided which one. Is there an underlayment, perhaps rubber, that we can lay directly on the ceramic tile? Will we have to glue down both the underlayment and the bamboo flooring?
    If we glue down in the foyer can we still float the rest of the floor over the concrete?

  88. We’re planning to install floating bamboo floors in our 2nd floor condo. When we pulled up some of the carpet, we saw concrete nad planned accordingly. But when my husband began to pull up carpet near the foyer, we discovered ceramic tile with grout lines. It also is installed at angles to the living room and hallway, which I imagine complicates our installation.
    We are planning on underlayment but haven’t decided which one. Is there an underlayment, perhaps rubber, that we can lay directly on the ceramic tile? Will we have to glue down both the underlayment and the bamboo flooring?
    If we glue down in the foyer can we still float the rest of the floor over the concrete?

  89. Michelle,
    That is a question for a professional in your area. They will be aware if moisture will be an issue if you decide on floating the floor. They will also be aware of the costs associated with covering the entire floor to provide a flat even surface or if it is less expensive to just remove the tile to the concrete underneath. Best of Luck.

  90. Melissa,
    You can try using a vinegar/water mixture and see if that takes care of it. If it doesn’t, then it’s time for a delicate operation — cleaning up the glue. With great care, gently dab mineral spirits onto the glue until it comes up. Be careful to not get too much on the flooring surface so you don’t damage the finish. Be sure to wash the spots with clear water when you are done to remove all remnants of the mineral spirits.
    I’ve also heard of a more unconventional approach for adhesive residue – don’t know if it works on other problems, like those from body oil, etc. Use a small amount of “Goo Gone” and “Bon Ami” on a paper towel and gently rub with the grain over any traces of adhesive. Quickly wipe off the mixture with a slightly damp towel and then thoroughly dry. Bon Ami is a mild abrasive that mixed with the Goo gone is just enough to do the trick. You may notice a slightly less shiny appearance after using this, however it is not enough that anyone but you would notice. Certainly much better than the smudged adhesive look.
    If the glue was latex based, you might try using a SOS pad – not the steel wool ones, but the kind made of plastic fibers. There’s two kinds, the kind for tougher scrubbing and delicate. Use the delicate. Sometimes this works. Don’t scrub hard though and be sure to take a damp rag to clean up afterwards or microfiber cloth. You can also use a dry microfiber cloth to kind of ‘buff’ it afterwards.
    You can also call the manufacturer – I’m sure they’ve heard of this numerous times and can also make recommendations.

  91. We’re having bamboo professionally installed in our home (2200 sqft). Morning Star Bamboo Dark Silk Road in the Master, Horizontal Natural in the other bedrooms and the Tiger Strand in the high traffic areas downstairs. It’s all beautiful and easy to maintain so far. However, in the Tiger Strand we can see ‘dimples’ where each nail is. Our installer has not seen this before and has installed strand but not the this brand. Does anyone else have this and how did you take care of this? Any help would be greatly appreciated as we are on hold to installing anymore Tiger Strand.

  92. Frankie,
    Hi. No, I don’t have experience with that product.
    If you have hired a professional to install the floor, and they have not seen that happen before, I would contact the manufacturer and explain it to them. They may be able to let you know what would have caused this problem.

  93. I am considering bamboo flooring for my kitchen that currently has vinyl tile. I am thinking of floating the floor for quicker installation. Is this recommended or should I go with a more traditional method of gluing or nailing? We have a golden retriever that has scratched up our vinyl and I need a strong floor to replace in the kitchen. I’ve read that bamboo is a great floor for pets, do you agree?

  94. Wendy,
    Bamboo is a strong type of wood flooring to use, and may be better than other choices for a home with pets. Floating the floor for quicker installation is fine, just be sure to check the manufacturer’s suggestions for your warranty protection. Another article you may be interested in reading is Bamboo Flooring.

  95. I am planning to install Cali Bamboo hybrid flooring in our bedroom, which has a plywood sub-floor, and am trying to decide whether to use the nail down method or the floating T&G method. In particular, I am leaning towards the floating T&G method because it looks easier and would not require the rental or purchase of a compressor and nail gun. However, you have indicated above that the floating T&G method is generally used for radiant heat floors and that the nail down method is generally used for plywood sub-floors, so I am wondering if there is a reason why I should go with the nail down method rather than the floating T&G method.

    • Great choice on the Cali Bamboo hybrid flooring. These floors are beautiful and their customer service team has a really good reputation, so you can also try contacting them for their opinion at 888-788-2254, but here are my thoughts:
      The real reason why most choose to do a nail down installation with a plywood subfloor is because this installation will guarantee the most solid application of the flooring to the subfloor. Nailing to the subfloor will reduce shifting from changes in humidity or just regular use of the flooring. If you happen to be in an area where there is very little humidity and very very little change in the humidity levels throughout the year, then maybe the floating T&G method will work for you, but I would lean towards nail down over floating.
      However, as far as the nail down method is concerned, you will really see the strength of your bamboo when you try this. It can be very difficult to get nails through bamboo. I know this is not one of the methods you were considering, but I would suggest considering gluing down the flooring to the plywood instead. This is the method always used for concrete, but can also be used for plywood if desired.
      Also, keep in mind that if there are any permanent objects in the bedroom where you are installing the floor (like a fireplace, pipes or columns), that you do not want to use the floating T&G method! This could result in your beautiful floors buckling.
      Please reach back out and let me know how it goes and which method you choose! I hope you love your new bamboo flooring!

  96. Whats the best way to finish the edge of steps on the long cut edge of bamboo solid finished click lock flooring. Whilst there are edges that fit along the click lock edge I cannot find anything for the cut edges on the ends

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