Planning a Bamboo Flooring Installation: Float, Nail or Glue?

Sara Miller
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Do you have your heart set on bamboo flooring, but don't really know what your options are? Well, aside from the type of bamboo (there's engineered and natural options), surface type, color, or species you have the choice of how the bamboo secures together.

You have three options: float, nail or glue. Depending on the type of subfloor you have, each poses unique advantages and disadvantages. Here are some questions you need  to consider prior to choosing your bamboo floor:

  • Who is doing the installation? If this is a DIY project, you may want to consider purchasing the easiest type of bamboo to install: floating floors.
  • What does my existing subfloor look like? Your existing surface can sway your material decision. Examine the subfloor and its level before deciding on how to install your bamboo floor. For example, glued-down bamboo works best with concrete floors, whereas floating floors can hover over existing laminate or tile. 

Let’s take a look at the differences between these installation methods:

Floating Bamboo Floor

A floating floor is installed above the subfloor, or the area below the outerlying surface. This is often considered one of the simplest and most convenient ways to install a bamboo floor, as installation requires the least amount of steps. If you have multiple layers of subfloor material, floating floors are a great option. However, it is important to remember to never install a bamboo floor over a subfloor that has debris, cracks, is damaged or has old carpet. 

The most common installation method for floating bamboo floors is tongue and groove, or interlocking planks.

Nailed Down Bamboo Floor

Another option is to nail your bamboo planks directly to the subfloor. In this instance you should always add an underlayment or moisture barrier to the subfloor to ensure no water can seep through the subfloor and damage your bamboo. This method does involve the extra step of an underlayment, but if you have a sturdy, clean subfloor then this is a reliable method of installing a bamboo floor. 

Nails are not necessary for tongue and groove floating floors, in most instances. You'll want to use this method for planks with 90-degree edges.

Glued Down Bamboo Floor

The method of gluing your bamboo planks directly to the subfloor is only recommended for concrete. As with all methods, you want to make sure your subfloor is properly primed and there are no cracks or debris. Always use a manufacturer-recommended glue for your bamboo planks.