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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. 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!

  13. 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?

  14. 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?

  15. 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.


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