Floating flooring refers to an installation wherein the floors are neither glued nor nailed to the subfloor. It usually installed using a tongue-and-groove or a click-lock system type of bamboo plank. This type of bamboo flooring is DIY-friendly and does not require any special tools or equipment.
It works by simply installing thin slats of bamboo, about 3/8 inch thick and 1/4 wide, attaching it to the underside of the subfloor without glue. The result is a floating bamboo floor, which adds warmth, texture, and elegance to any space.
Benefits of floating bamboo flooring
Floating bamboo floors are becoming more popular than other flooring options because of their many advantages. Other than being an eco-friendly flooring option, the benefits of floating bamboo floors include:
Easy to install
The floating bamboo flooring is a no-glue, no-nail installation which makes installation simple and easy. The pieces of bamboo planks are made to fit perfectly together, clicking or snapping in place, whether click-lock or a tongue-and-groove version. This is great for DIY-ers with a limited budget.
Floating bamboo floors are easily expandable especially when there are fluctuations of temperatures such as in areas with humid environments. Since the planks are not glued down to the subfloor, they are less prone to warp. Also, the bamboo material itself is extremely resistant to moist and water damage.
Most floating bamboo flooring comes pre-finished which makes it one of the easiest flooring to maintain. Simply sweep the floors to avoid a build-up of loose debris. In addition, since floating bamboo floors are installed by simply clicking various bamboo planks together, it is easier to replace when a single plank gets damaged. This makes it very cost-effective as you only have to replace a single plank rather than replacing the whole flooring.
Floating vs nail vs glue-down bamboo flooring
– Glue-down is labor-intensive and might require professional installers.
– Floating is easy to install and can be done with any DIY-ers and has a shorter installation time.
– Nail-down is also labor-intensive and will require the right nails and nail gun, so best leave it to the professionals.
– Glue-down installation will cost around $6 to $9 per square foot.
– Floating installation costs slightly less around $1.69 to $3.69 per square foot.
– Nail-down installation will cost a bit more around $7-$12 per square foot.
– Glue-down bamboo flooring repairs will require replacement of the entire floor, similar to the nail-down method.
– Floating bamboo floors will only require replacing the damaged plank or slat with a new one.
Floating bamboo installation systems
The installation process will depend on the locking system that comes with your floating bamboo floor (click-lock or tongue-and-groove system). You can install floating bamboo floors in two ways.
Tongue and Groove System
Start with the tongue facing away from the wall. Position the plank at a 20 to 30-degree angle and move the plank up and down while pushing forward, so it would automatically fold into place. Insert the tongue into the groove or vice versa. Make sure not to force the plank to lay flat and simply help to fold it into position.
Click Lock System
Make sure the L-shaped side is facing away from the wall. Position the plank and then push the subsequent row plank forward and down so the boards are locked together. You will feel the planks snap into place.
Things to consider before installation
Like most projects, installing floating bamboo floors will need a bit of preparation such as ordering the bamboo planks, prepping your tools and subfloors.
1. Measure the room’s size and make sure to add 7-10% of square footage for cutting, waste, or damage, so you will have spare planks.
2. When the planks are delivered, inspect for damage. If there are damages, contact the manufacturer for replacement.
3. Prepare the subfloors by cleaning the room and checking for unevenness. If the floor is not level and firm, sand it down or patch it to fill the gaps. Also, make sure the subfloor is dry by testing its moisture levels with a moisture-testing kit found in hardware stores.
4. When you plan to install over a crawl space, you will need to add a vapor barrier (6mm or more of polyethylene film) so it will not develop any moisture.
5. Acclimate bamboo planks by taking them out of their packaging and placing them in the room where they will be installed for a couple of days. This is so the bamboo floors acclimatize to the room’s humidity and moisture.
6. Prepare your tools.
– Chalk line
– Duct tape
– Tapping block
– Take measure
– Moisture resistant adhesive
– Mitre saw
– Table saw
– 40-tooth saw blade
– Oscillating saw
– Carpenter’s square
– 3-in-1 closed underlayment
After doing all the prep work, start installing the bamboo flooring. Make sure to also check the installation instructions from the manufacturer.
1. Cut the bamboo planks according to your preference, just make sure no plank is less than 8 inches in length. Measure it with a tape measure for accuracy.
2. Lay down the subfloor to provide added moisture protection for your bamboo planks. Place a generous bead of glue or adhesive under the subfloor.
3. Lay down the first row of bamboo planks but make sure to leave ¼ – ½ inch expansion gaps between all planks or flooring strips that come in contact with walls, door frames, and other structures around the room. You can do this by adding the sum of the expansion joint, strip flooring width, and tongue width. This will give the floor a little room to adjust or expand during humidity changes. Also, make sure to add sufficient space for the expansion joint at every end of the row.
4. Lay the subsequent rows with a cut plank that is at least 18 inches in length and insert the board at a 20-30 degree angle adjacent to the first row. You can choose to use a mallet to keep the planks in place.
5. Before adding the last row of the bamboo planks, check to see if the floors are even or if you need to straighten them.
6. Then, repeat the instructions above for the last rows.
Care and maintenance
Bamboo floors are known to be durable and require little maintenance, however, make sure to take the necessary steps to maintain your bamboo floors luxurious appeal:
1. When cleaning use non-wax cleaners to keep bamboo floors in good condition. Avoid using convention cleaners which may damage your floor’s finish.
2. Do not use a wet mop or cloth when cleaning a bamboo floor, instead use a dry and absorbent cloth to wipe spills.
3. Use a vacuum to eliminate loose debris or particles that could damage or scratch the floor.
4. Place a carpet or any protective felt underneath heavy furniture to avoid scratches. Clean the felt when necessary or if you see debris.
5. Place a thick rug underneath when moving heavy furniture (sofa, fridge, etc.).
6. Do not use outdoor footwear inside or it may scratch the bamboo floors.
Common problems with bamboo
1. Bamboo floors require diligent cleaning
2. It is sensitive to humidity and may expand.
3. Prone to scratches and dents
4. Can weaken if exposed to moisture for an extended period of time.
5. It can fade when regularly exposed to sunlight for a long time.
Floating bamboo flooring is durable and easy to install and maintain. Floating bamboo flooring is perfect for areas that experience humidity changes as it has the ability to expand with these fluctuations.
If you want to consider bamboo floors, make sure to read our Bamboo Flooring Guide for Your Home.