How to Install a Floating Click Engineered Bamboo Floor

Installed click engineered bamboo floors from Bambooimporters.com
Installed click engineered bamboo floors from Bambooimporters.com
Source

Click Engineered Bamboo Flooring

The flooring we will install in this article is the Click Engineered Bamboo Flooring from BambooImporters.com. The decision to purchase this particular flooring did not come quick, rather a lot of research on the material, sustainability, total cost and of the issues faced in our installation weighed heavily on the decision making process. The home where the flooring was installed was completely gut renovated and the sub-floor was re-leveled throughout the entire single floor home. Radiant heat tubing was then installed on top which was chosen for its minimal operating costs and for its even heating of the home with its high ceilings. A floating floor was an ideal choice in this situation.The ability to put the floor together backwards was vital since the flooring would extend continuously throughout the single story home. As a result, the bedroom doors don't have thresholds and the wood floors flow through the home, about 40 feet at its longest.

To learn more about the flooring used and the manufacturer, please see

Floating Click Engineered Floating Floor from Bamboo Importers


Tools

Having the right tools for the job will be important to be able to work quickly and efficiently. This flooring is 5 inches wide so be sure that your chop saw can cut something that wide, A new saw blade will help you get clean cuts without burning the wood. Also be sure to that you have the appropriate wood blade. I also recommend ear plugs and safety glasses. Sawdust in the eye is never fun and you will be certain that consistent loud noises will damage your ears.


Suggested Tools

  • Chop Saw with proper blade (cutting boards to length)
  • Table Saw (ripping boards to width)
  • Skill Saw (making end and awkward cuts)
  • Jigsaw (to make cuts through doorways)
  • Oscillating Tool (to cut off bottom of door jams and trim to put new floor underneath)
  • Hammer (to tap the boards together)
  • Tapping Block and Pull Bar (so the hammer doesn't mar the wood and you can knock them into place from both sides)
  • Tape Measure (to measure for the cuts, one that locks open is preferred)
  • Speed square/ Carpenters Square (helps with quick cuts)
  • Utility Knife (cutting open boxes, cut tape and underlayment, etc)
  • Knee pads (your knees will thank you)
  • Masking / Painters tape (protect the board while running it face down on on tool surface, ie chop saw)
  • Pencil (to mark the boards)
  • Ear Plugs (the hammering and cutting definitely gets loud if you're sensitive)
  • String (for double checking that the boards are running straight)
  • Drill, Screws and Wood scrap (blocking/bracing the wood to help with installation)

...

Ordering the Flooring

When it comes to ordering your flooring, find the total square footage of the floor being replaced and order 20% more flooring (or 120% of what you need). Manufacturers generally allow for you to return the defects and extras so don't worry about having too much, but be sure to double check return policies before you order. Having extra wood allows for a more consistent wood tone within the floor which increases the drama and professional look of a room.

For Example:

A 20 foot by 10 foot room has an area of 200 square foot (sf). I would order at least 240-sf of boards to complete the job, more if I was going to individually select the boards for color and pattern consistency.

10ft x 20ft = 200sf Room

200sf x 1.2 (or 120%) = 240sf

IMPORTANT NOTE

The most important thing to remember when you are ordering your flooring that it must acclimate to your home before it can be installed, meaning that it must adjust its humidity and temperature to that of the home. If not the wood may swell or dry too much causing issues with the flooring itself such as heaving or cracking. Once ordered, keep the boxes unopened within the room where they are going to be installed or close by within the house for at least a week to acclimate properly, keeping in mind that it will take up a bit of space. Different manufacturers will recommend different time frames, just remember it is important to give time for the wood to acclimate before you start the installation process which is another reason why ordering enough wood is important.

Time Lapsed Photo Video of our Installation

This model of flooring  from Bamboo Importers has a modified tongue and grove connection. Here the flange clicks together with the next board to secure the boards together.
This model of flooring from Bamboo Importers has a modified tongue and grove connection. Here the flange clicks together with the next board to secure the boards together.
The short edge of the Bamboo Flooring is overlapped. As you may see from the picture, the precision milling holds the boards tightly together preventing gaps.
The short edge of the Bamboo Flooring is overlapped. As you may see from the picture, the precision milling holds the boards tightly together preventing gaps.

How it Works

Bamboo Importers Click Engineered Flooring is precision milled to provide stability and durability. The long edge of the boards has a modified tongue and groove connection as you can see right, The joint locks itself together when you hammer it together and its is also easily taken apart. The short end of the boards are milled into a modified half-lapped joint, designed to hold the seam together tightly together yet only allows the floor to be laid in one direction. This precision milling creates a floating floor that feels complete and tightly connected throughout. When laying the floor it is important to stagger the joints between the rows. Given that the boards are 6 feet long, I recommend not allowing a joint within a foot of each other. Seams too close together leads to decreased structural stability and the floor squeaking.



Laying out the Flooring

Generally speaking, wood floors are run parallel to the longest wall of a room. This minimizes the amount of cuts (less time, less labor) as well as the amount of scrap. Floor orientation can also be used to unify different rooms so the direction of the boards should be aesthetically pleasing. A diagonal orientation may help to visually unify different rooms as well as remove the bowling alley feel to a space. A diagonal orientation will also help to hide bowed walls or walls that are not square.

In our case the home owner decided they wanted the flooring to run seamlessly throughout the great room, and down the hall into the master bedroom. Seams in which the flooring changes directions requires a threshold cap (to hold down the flooring), which would create a raised threshold in the doors to the bedrooms. The flooring is designed to be held down, so a raised threshold is required when running the flooring perpendicular to each other. This was a big job for us, our longest run of boards in the house is 44-feet!

Preparing the Subfloor

Preparing the surface is fairly straightforward. Check for any construction debris and ensure that the sub-floor doesn't have anything sticking up that might poke through the underlayment resulting in a squeak. In our case we used OSB plywood as a filler so we went over the boards with a putty knife to ensure that it was smooth without splinters poking upwards. Everything was then vacuumed clean. Be sure to check the maximum deflection in the flooring (how many inches out of level it is) and check with Bamboo Importers' specifications. Flooring too far out of level, or sub-floors that are too wavy are structural compromised.


Underlayment

The underlayment that was used was recommended by the manufacturer and also acts as a vapor barrier. This underlayment is designed to be laid parallel to the flooring. It is also see through so when you are putting in a flooring above, you can see what is underneath so you don’t damage anything (like nicking a radiant tube). The product we used came with a plastic overlap and pre-installed tape strips to connect the seam between two sheets together, It was recommended to use a vapor barrier tape to reinforce the seams. Tape any rips or tears through the top vapor barrier layer with the tape to ensure a uniform vapor barrier under the flooring. It is also a good idea to repaint your room before installing the flooring. This way you don't have to worry about spills or messes or cutting in paint around the baseboards, which you would install after the flooring is complete.


Spacers to hold the floor secure during installation.
Spacers to hold the floor secure during installation.
Scrap wood or scrap pieces of flooring works well as blocking. Be sure to secure the seams since they are the weak point while hammering.
Scrap wood or scrap pieces of flooring works well as blocking. Be sure to secure the seams since they are the weak point while hammering.
In the process of installing the floor. Here we centered boards down the hall into the great room for visual interest and the desire not to use thresholds throughout the home.
In the process of installing the floor. Here we centered boards down the hall into the great room for visual interest and the desire not to use thresholds throughout the home.

Installation

After the underlayment has been installed, start with the first board and complete the first row. You will see that there isn't any stability to the flooring. Keep it roughly in place and add a few more rows. The flooring will start to stabilize and then you can insure it is straight with a string by pulling a string taught and looking along the flooring to see in what way it is crooked. Once the flooring has been stabilized with spacers along the wall or wood blocks screwed into the sub-flooring, you can hammer the flooring tight together with the tapping block.

The easiest way to help blend the tones together is to layout 2 to 4 rows at the same time, cutting the end boards to length last, when you are completely satisfied. Complete boards can be replaced easy with a better matching tone, or a row can be completely shifted. You will realize the ease in which this product is installed. I recommend opening up a few boxes and layout the boards in place. it is very simple to temporary click the boards together. Once you have a lot of boards out, separate the boards into tones like light, medium and dark. Also keep in mind that the short end connection between the boards dictates that only two boards be cut in each row of boards. Always try to keep an eye on the joint alignments between rows, trying to keep a foot minimum between boards during this phase. If the seams between rows gets too close, you can also change the order if the rows to ensure a stable floating floor. Joints that are too close may also cause squeaking in high traffic areas so definitely watch up as you go.

Blending Tones

Left we can see the floor as installed and right, with white lines showing the seams in the flooring. Blending tones creates a truly dramatic beautiful floor.
Left we can see the floor as installed and right, with white lines showing the seams in the flooring. Blending tones creates a truly dramatic beautiful floor.

Board Installation

First measure the distance from the previous board to the wall. Subtract the required perimeter gap to get the length of the cut board. Keep in mind of the overlap between the short ends of the board and be sure to measure from the appropriate place. If you wall isn't straight, you will have to cut the end at whatever angle the wall is.

Once cut, place the board into place, this will also help you make any adjustments to the board.

After aligning the board, work the joint together as much as you can before you hammer it together, the seam should be very close to seated.

A few hits along the entire edge will seat the milled edged together perfectly. Every once in a while we got a bad board, so if you stumble upon one, just put it aside with any that might also be damaged. Always check boards for blemished as you go. You can also cut out the middle of the board and use just the ends as well.


Product Thoughts

After working with this material I would have to recommend it for any home do-it-yourselfer as an easy way to add a hardwood floor to any room. a little carpentry know-how and a lot of preplanning are vital for a successful installation. I recommend laying out multiple boards at one time during installation to try to blend tones throughout the area you are working on before final cutting and placing of each prefinished board. as long as you don't cut a board you can always replace it with a better board that fits the coloring of the area you are working on. Taking the floor apart once it's put together simple and easy and I recommend it for any DIY-er.


Protecting the Flooring

It is a good idea to protect your floor from construction activities until they are completed. Rosin paper works well to protect its, use a low tack tape such as painter's tape to tape it down so you don't waste your time cleaning off tape adhesive residue. If you are going to continue construction or moving, I recommend buying masonite sheets and laying them over the rosin paper.This will protect to flooring from dropped lumber.

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