Installing a new hardwood floor can be one of the most rewarding and dramatic home improvements you can make. While many approach this task with a certain amount of trepidation, if you take the right steps and prepare yourself properly, it can be a reasonable project for the average do-it-yourselfer.
Tools are something that many DIYers concern themselves with, when in reality, the limited number of tools you actually need for this project can easily be rented from your local home improvement store. The basic tools needed are a compound miter saw, a hand saw, a rubber mallet, and possibly a face-nailer. The type of material you use, like veneered or pure hardwood content, will determine the type of blade needed to cut the sections into the proper size or shape for your application. Additionally, prep work can drastically affect the amount of time it takes to install your floor.
Prep the Area
From the onset, it is important to properly prep the area where you plan to install your new bamboo floor. If this is a replacement for a previous flooring surface, it is vital to not damage the subfloor when removing all traces of the old floor. If you are replacing a section of carpet with a hardwood, or hardwood alternative flooring surface, be sure that all the tackless strips are safely removed, as well as the integral center tacks that are typically used to secure sections of carpet. Once the area is free of all carpet pieces and tacks, sweep it clean.
Should you be replacing a tile or stone floor with bamboo, certain steps may need to be taken to ensure that the subfloor is completely intact and free from structural damage. When removing a tile floor, the first step is to break up and remove the actual flooring surface. This can be done with simple hand tools like a hammer and shovel. Then, examine the leftover adhesive attached to the subfloor. There are certain types, such as thinset, which adhere to plywood or Lueon subfloors extremely well. In these cases, it might be easiest to simply replace the entire subfloor. This is also likely the case when replacing vinyl or laminate flooring.
Materials and Layout
After removing old flooring and prepping the area, it’s time to get to work! Your first step should be to measure the area and purchase the material you will need. Buy about 20 percent overage to make sure you will have enough to cover any mistakes, or for sections of flooring with a natural variation that may stand out more when installed in a large open area. Check all the grain variations and colors prior to beginning the installation. This is also a perfect time to check for any imperfections or damage to sections, which can typically be taken back to the flooring retailer and exchanged.
Once your materials have been inspected and your area has been measured, your next step is to do a rough layout. This rough layout allows you to survey the work ahead of you, make a final determination of how you want your floor to look, and decide if the colors and graining are what you are looking for. This is also the time to remove the base molding (if applicable) and prepare that area for installation. Once your layout is confirmed, and you are comfortable with the colors and patterning of the grains in the bamboo itself, it is time to proceed to the actual installation of the flooring surface.
Before beginning, determine if your floor is one of two types, either a floating floor (which does not require adhesive or face-nailing) or standard plank flooring (which does require face-nailing). During your layout, you should have gauged your floor to determine the best starting point for your application. Start at that point and begin laying your floor down. If your flooring is the type that requires face nailing, be sure to apply enough pressure to close the joints between each plank of flooring prior to firing the necessary nails. If you are installing a floating floor, over a few courses, firmly close the joints between each piece with a rubber mallet.
When cutting sections, the old adage rings true: "Measure twice, cut once." This way you will not waste excessive materials with incorrect measurements and you’ll also the tightest cuts and best fit possible, which will further enhance the end result of your project.
Once you have installed the entire floor, there are just a few more steps to finish up your project. Inspect the entire floor surface and look specifically for any misaligned joints, buckled sections, or damaged, frayed ends exposed. Once you are satisfied that the floor looks as good as possible, it is time to reinstall the base moldings and corner round bead work. It is typically best to use a corner round that is either pre-primed or already painted to make it easier and reduce the likelihood that paint or stain will damage your new floor. Once all your moldings are in place, remove all tools and remaining materials. Keep the larger pieces of the remaining material in case some damage is incurred at a future date; it could be tremendously handy.
Now that you have successfully installed your new bamboo floor, it’s time to enjoy it! If this is your first experience with a wood or natural flooring surface, it’s important to remember that the feet and legs of furniture, when dragged across the floor, can cause significant damage, so be careful and take precautions. Getting used to the feel and look of a bamboo floor can take some time, so now that you have put forth the effort to install it, spend some time admiring the new look and feel of your home.
Sean O'Halloran worked for several years as a Tile and General Contractor throughout the tri-state area. After retiring from the industry, he now focuses on his professional writing career.