How to install bamboo flooring

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Westhollow Bamboo Installation

Westhollow Bamboo Installation

In this installation, the plywood floor offers a simple surface to apply bamboo over. Rolling out kraft paper is the first step. The paper acts as a moisture transition between the new floor and the existing floor as opposed to a moisture barrier used on concrete. Kraft paper also known as roofing felt is widely available.

The paper should be trimmed at the walls using a utility knife.

Starting the first row of bamoo is easy to do by making sure you have adequate distance between the wall and the floor (1/4″ – 1/2″). This gap can later be covered by baseboard. The process for the first row is to top nail the boards to insure adequate strength in holding the boards.

To maintain the gap, spacers are often used to make it easier to work with the floor without compromising the required expansion/contraction area. Often times spacers can be doubled up to provide a consistent wider gap. The cut board that was from the end of the first row will be used to start the second row.

Once you are into the second row you can start using an angle nailer. Be sure that you stagger the end joints of the boards so that the floor has more of a random appearance. This is done by cutting rows 2 & 3 by one third to start the rows. Then the cut ends can be used to start rows 4 and above. The technique is especially important for fixed lengths floors.

A pneumatic tool can now provide angled nails (aka staples/cleats) on the tongue of the new row. Row 1 was top nailed and row 2 is angle nailed. Sometimes the term angle nailing is also called secret nailing or hidden nailing, but it all refers to the same basic principle. The nail is driven into the top of the tongue at an angle which drives farther into the new flooring and into the subfloor. The next row’s tongue then fits over the groove and therefore hides the nail. It is important to make sure that the nail is seated flush in the tongue to avoid causing difficulity when sliding the next row in place. Additionally be careful not to over power your pneumatic settings which can lead to blowing off the tongue all together. Finally making sure the proper size tool for the flooring is the final tip to get started right.

When you are nearing the end of the row you can use a full plank of the flooring and then mark your cut based on the remaining amount required between the last board and the wall. (don’t forget to maintain the expansion and contraction gap!) Also be careful with this process to avoid scratching or denting your new flooring even by accident.

This process can be repeated quickly and easily once the first few rows are completed. The pace of the installation really picks up.

Often times top nailing is required at edges or walls to insure a very secure installation of the perimeter boards. The top nail holes can be filled with putty.

When you reach the end of a wall a cut (aka rip) is what is needed. You will want to make sure that the piece maintains the expansion gap between the ripped board and wall. Measure twice and cut once!

This photo shows a perfectly seated nail in the tongue. It is flush, yet not driven too far into the flooring, which would reduce the holding power of the nail. This is picture perfect.

To install bamboo on stair risers you can use 2 normal sized boards for standard heigths. Sometimes a board need to be cut or “ripped” down to make it fit. The rips are most commonly placed at the top of the riser which are then concealed by the stair nosing.

The stairnose is applied first and then the other two boards are applied. Depending on the depth of the stair a cut may be required at the back of the stair. A smaller gap can be left on stairs. The gap and cut edge will be hidden by the riser.

This photo shows a flush stair nosing that can be used on stair ways. This piece would be applied at the front edge of the stairs and would overlap the riser. The remainder of the stair is filled in using normal planks. There are also pre-made FULL treads and risers available in some westhollow products. This is the premium option and looks and feels the best.

To apply the stair nosing using a high quality glue or construction adhesive is essential.

Without applying too much glue it is important to balance good coverage without overkill on adhesive. This photo shows an ideal pattern. The same concept would apply the the full stair treads.

The stair nosing and filler pieces are typically both glued and top nailed. Filling in the top nail holes and making sure the nails are properly recessed into the flooring is important.

For this top step we need to using a little ingenuity to accomplish a nice looking transition while maintaining an expansion gap. Here a T-molding is combined with a stair nosing to create the perfect solution.

A jamb saw or even a regular hand saw can help undercut your door jambs to allow the floor to slide underneath. This is an area where baseboard is not proper to apply, yet you must maintain an expansion/contraction area. By undercutting the jamb you can hide the gap under the door jamb.

Marking cuts around this area follows the same guidelines as the cuts in the room.

The stair nose is applied on this step down the same way as it was on the stairs. (glue and top nailing.)

When you reach that last row you can use a board to determine where to mark your cut. (don’t forget the expansion gap.)

This is another shot of that last row that has been ripped down and needs to be top nailed. Sometimes it is a good idea to apply some adhesive under this board as well.

The satisfaction of a job well done comes quickly when the beauty of your new flooring investment is completed! After a quick clean up for dust the floor is ready to be lived on. Proper maintaince is critical to keeping the flooring healthy over the long run. This includes rugs in walk off areas, especially interior and exterior doors. Notice the natural shade variation supplied by mother nature. As with all flooring variation in color should be expected. Additionally keeping felt protectors under chairs, tables etc…(like shown under the pool table.)

Perfection!

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