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How to install, clean and maintain bamboo flooring

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Hardwood floors can make a room feel more welcoming. They are the perfect flooring for any aesthetic. If you are looking for hardwood-style flooring that is eco-friendly, then bamboo flooring is the way to go. Bamboo is a renewable resource, a solid hardwood flooring choice and perfect for most spaces. Best of all, bamboo flooring installation is a great DIY project.

Installing, cleaning and maintaining bamboo floors isn’t difficult. Like most hardwood floors, bamboo is durable and long-lasting. So, if you want the look of traditional hardwood flooring with the bonus of sustainability, then here is how you can install, clean and maintain your bamboo flooring.

 

How to choose bamboo flooring

Once you’ve set your heart on bamboo flooring, a few steps are required before you are ready to install. First, you need to choose the type of bamboo flooring. There are many different flooring options.

Horizontal bamboo flooring

Horizontal bamboo flooring is when manufacturers glue stalk strips edge to edge. This technique makes maximum use of the stalk and has the most natural bamboo flooring look. With this wide-plank style, you can see all the “knuckles” along the stalks, adding character to the boards. This type of flooring can come natural, stained or carbonized, which adds a beautiful caramel color.

Vertical bamboo flooring

Vertical bamboo flooring is when manufacturers glue stalk strips face-to-face. It gives the grain a thinner look with fewer “knuckles” showing. This type of flooring is also less likely to show dents and scuffs. This type of bamboo flooring usually comes natural or carbonized. Staining, however, isn’t common because the thin strips don’t absorb the stain well.

Strand bamboo flooring

Strand bamboo flooring has a more complicated manufacturing process but results in a denser product. The grain of this type is also unique and will look more like the grain of other types of hardwood. Strand-woven flooring lends itself to special treatments and finishes better than the other types.

 

How to install bamboo flooring in 5 steps

Once you decide on the type of solid bamboo flooring for your space, all you have to do is calculate the square footage, put it in the order, and prepare for installation. Make sure to order up to 10% more flooring than you need. This extra will account for cutting waste during installation.

Step 1. Prepare the subfloor

The first step to installing any new floor is to prepare the subfloor. The subfloor is the foundation on which the new flooring will sit, so if there are issues with the subfloor, it will affect your new flooring.

Check that your subfloor is sturdy and level. If not, fix it through sanding and filling. Subfloors are usually wood or concrete, so make sure to use the appropriate materials. If you have a wooden subfloor, check for loose or creaking boards. If it is concrete, check for cracks.

Ensure your subfloor is dry. Bamboo floors prefer dry spaces; otherwise, they can warp over time. To check your subfloor, use a moisture meter for wood or a moisture testing kit for concrete. You should also seal your crawl space to avoid moisture seeping into it.

Step 2. Prepare the bamboo planks

When your flooring arrives, inspect the planks for damage. Don’t throw away any packaging, and set aside any damaged planks. Check the retailer’s or flooring company’s return policy for damaged planks.

It’s important to acclimate the bamboo planks. Take them out of the packaging and place them in the room, allowing the boards to stabilize and adapt to the room’s moisture. If you skip this step, boards might warp, resulting in gaps or broken boards.

Acclimation time will depend on the type of flooring. Generally, horizontal and vertical bamboo flooring should take three to four days, while strand-woven bamboo could take up to 30.

Step 3. Lay down an underlayment

Even though you tested the subfloor for moisture, you still want an extra layer of protection. An underlayment will add moisture protection between your bamboo flooring and the subfloor. Lay down a three-in-one underlayment according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Many come with self-adhering strips to keep sections together. 

The underlayment is important for moisture protection and a useful sound buffer. Adding the extra layer between the floor and subfloor should help dampen the sounds of footfalls on upper floors.

Step 4. Set the bamboo planks

First, decide how you want to lay your flooring planks. Measure the width of the room (in square feet) and divide that by the width of your planks. If the amount left is less than 1 inch, cut your first board in half. This process will ensure your last plank is wider than an inch. 

Invest in ¼- to ½-inch expansion spacers to leave an expansion gap between your planks and any walls, door frames or structures. Baseboards will cover the gap, allowing the floor to expand.

For tongue-and-groove flooring products, start with the tongue side facing the wall. Lay your first row. For a floating floor, the boards are not secured to the subfloor, so make sure the first row doesn’t move when laying the second. Start your second row with a cut piece and insert the tongue into the groove of the first row. Continue row after row. Cut the last row to fit, leaving enough space for the expansion gap.

Make sure to stagger the joints across the floor. Joints on each row should be at least 6 inches apart. If two joints line up, make sure they are at least two rows apart. This will increase the strength of the floor and make it look professional.

Step 5. Finish and install moldings

Once the planks are down, it’s time to reinstall the baseboards and moldings. Remove the spacers you used for the expansion gap. Fit the baseboards to the correct walls and nail them into the wall. Do not nail them into the flooring material. 

Reinstall any other moldings the same way they were before. You might need to glue down some trims. Keep track of how you removed everything when you prepared the space. Take note of where wall trims and moldings came from so you put them back in the correct place.

 

How to clean bamboo flooring

Now that you have beautiful bamboo floors, how do you keep them clean? While bamboo is durable and water-resistant, there are a few things to keep in mind when cleaning.

  • Use a damp or dry mop to clean
  • Never steam or wet-mop bamboo floors
  • Sweep away dust and dirt in high-traffic areas
  • Avoid using oil soaps, wax-based products, ammonia-based cleaners, bleach and vinegar
  • Use a high-quality pH-balanced cleaner to avoid corrosion

 

Bamboo flooring maintenance tips

Known for being durable, bamboo floors last a long time. To keep them looking amazing for years to come, here are a few maintenance tips.

  • Do not slide heavy objects across the floor. Always pick up heavy items and furniture. If you are unable to lift something, try using anti-scratch felt protectors.
  • Place doormats at outdoor entrances and remove shoes. This keeps the floor clean and will help avoid scratches.
  • Hang blinds or curtains on windows. UV light can fade bamboo flooring. You can also add UV protection film to windows.
  • Keep the humidity under control. Using a humidifier, dehumidifier or climate control, keep the humidity in rooms with bamboo flooring around 40% to 60%.
  • Use rubber or felt rug pads. This will help keep the back of the rug from scratching the floors. Make sure the pad is breathable so it doesn’t trap excess moisture.

 

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Interested in bamboo flooring? Let’s review how to install, clean and maintain this eco-friendly flooring option to help it last.