Installing a Solid Bamboo Floor
If you are thinking of installing a solid bamboo floor then you’ve chosen one of the easiest wood floors to install. In its simplest form, the procedure is carried out by attaching bamboo planks to a solid wood subfloor using adhesive, wood staples or nails. If laying the floor on a concrete base this can be done by using a strong wood glue.
A big plus point when choosing a bamboo floor is that it can be installed above an existing heating system. This is due to the breathable nature of the bamboo material. Once the floor has been installed it is best to leave it completely alone (unwalked on) for at least three days in order for the planks to settle into the temperature of the room.
If you are installing a bamboo floor during the winter months then make sure the room is warm and dry. Never attempt to install this type of flooring in damp or cold conditions as the moisture content in the air will negatively impact on the material causing it to contract and later expand as the temperature rises.
For the above reason it is unavoidable that spaces between the boards will be apparent as the boards expand and contract throughout the year. This is entirely normal with a bamboo floor and is no cause for alarm.
Bamboo is 100% natural and is a grass not a tree. So it does not have the grainy effect of many types of solid woods and can actually vary quite widely in both natural design and in colour. It is always a good idea to examine the sanding floorboards before installation and group them by colour before spreading the different shades throughout the floor in order to avoid a mish-mash of blocky colours.
All sub-flooring should be in good repair, clean and completely dry before the new floor is laid on top. If possible test the sub-floor for residual treatments which may impact negatively on the installation.
If the sub-floor is concrete then a moisture test must be carried out first, paying particular attention to corner areas. Make sure the base is clean of rubble and other debris, adhesive, oil and any type of solvent before continuing. Do not attempt to lay a bamboo floor on top of new slabbing. Wait until the slabs are at least three months old and are completely dried out.
To glue or not to glue?
When laying the bamboo strips it is best to leave a space of around 3cm between the first plank and the wall to allow for natural movement. Bamboo can be nailed or glued in place, but do not nail too close to the end of the planks as this can result in splitting.
If you opt to use glue then invest in the best quality wood adhesive you can lay your hands on, as it will be worth it in the long run. Never apply too much adhesive and remove spillages immediately. Do not allow the product to seep between the planks and wear protective eye goggles and a face mask when working with adhesives of any kind.
The finishing touch
Bamboo is versatile as well as beautiful and responds very well to most types of finishing products. If the planks are new then you can retain their fresh good looks by applying a colour-free varnish which brings additional protection as well as a high-gloss shine.
If you opt to use reclaimed planking then you could try a coloured stain or lacquer if the colour is patchy and/or dulled by age. Although bamboo does not last as long as solid woods it is now a recognised asset to any style of room and décor as well as a valuable enhancement when selling a house.