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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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! :-)

  5. 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!

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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,

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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!


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