When considering bamboo floors for your space, it is important to understand the material that the floors will be place over to ensure that it is possible.
If you’re in this position, you may be asking yourself the following question: “Can bamboo floors be installed over concrete?”. The answer to this question is yes. In fact, there are actually two primary methods (floating and glued down) used to install bamboo floors over concrete.
In this post, we’re going to provide you with all the details related to the process of installing bamboo floors over concrete, we’ll shed some light on the two primary installation methods, and we’ll share some information about the steps you should take if you will be installing your bamboo floors over concrete.
Why it’s OK to install bamboo floors over concrete
There are only a number of foundations and underlayments that work for bamboo floors and concrete is one of them. When you think of concrete as a material, it is known for being extremely sturdy and strong and is a common building material used in homes and commercial buildings.
When compared to other types of foundations, concrete is a material that will add an extra layer of firmness and durability underneath a flooring type that is also known to have the same qualities.
Two primary installation methods for bamboo flooring over concrete
As mentioned previously, there are really two methods for installing bamboo floors over concrete: floating and glued down. Before making the call on your installation method, it is important to know the difference between the two.
This is a method that is typically used when installing bamboo floors that can either be clicked in or tongue-and-groove floors. Neither click-in or tongue-and-groove bamboo floors require you gluing the planks directly to the concrete.
In the case of tongue-and-groove, you do have the option (and it is often recommended) to glue together the bamboo planks as you are installing. While this may seem unstable at first, as you begin to connect more planks together, you will notice less movement in the floor as a whole.
Glue Down Method
Unlike the floating method, the glue down method required that you install your bamboo floors directly over the concrete using an adhesive. While some people choose to do this with both click-in and tongue-and-grove bamboo planks, this is primarily performed for floors that do not fall into either one of these categories.
While this method can typically be much messier during installation, you will find that your floors will more naturally be able to expand and contract as they age; this should help with make sure your floors are less susceptible to over-swelling and cracks.
When deciding to move forward with the glue down method, you may find the task of selecting an adhesive to be a daunting one. In many cases, there are a couple of industry standards when it comes to which brands offer the best option for your job.
First, one of the most widely recommended adhesive solutions is Bostik’s line of wood flooring adhesives. Bostik’s products are on the top of our list as their adhesive act as both a strong glue floor your floors while also serving as a moisture protection solution.
Our next choice would be Mapei’s Ultrabond ECO 980. This is a trusted industry option and Mapei offer a lifetime bond performance warranty. In addition, if you’re worried about VOC emissions, this adhesive emits an extremely low amount, which they list as “negligible”.
Tips for preparing your concrete for bamboo floor installation
1. Make sure the surface area of your concrete is completely free of dirt and debris
This is an extremely important note as any build up of debris or dirt can potentially cause more issues down the road as it relates to unevenness and damage to your bamboo planks.
In addition, you may find that it is more difficult to install your bamboo floors whether you’re using the glue down method or the floating method.
With the glue down method, this build up can potentially impact the strength or effectiveness of your adhesive. With the floating method, it could impact your ability to securely connect your bamboo planks.
If you had to use any type of liquid or detergent to clean your floors, ensure that the concrete is completely dry before continuing the installation process.
2. Ensure that you concrete slab is completely even with no dips
Often when laying down a concrete foundation, there are certain areas of the concrete that have significant dips that make parks of your floor uneven.
As we’ve mentioned in another post related to the noisiness of bamboo floors, installing bamboo floors over concrete that is uneven can result in your bamboo floors beginning to squeak as they more harshly hit the concrete base underneath.
Also, excessive amounts of this type of activity will result in your bamboo planks beginning to split and/or crack.
3. Check the moisture level of your floors
If you’ve read our post about the interaction of bamboo floors and water or other liquids, you’ll understand why checking the moisture level of your concrete slab is important in order to maintain your bamboo floors. Should the moisture build up underneath your bamboo floors, you can expect for your bamboo planks to shift and crack over time.
There are multiple methods for testing the moisture level of your concrete and this is a step that should not be overlooked.
4. If using the floating method, you must use a moisture blocker
Because some of the adhesives used in the glue down method also act as moisture blockers, you typically would not need additional protection from moisture buildup.
Since you often time will not be using adhesives when using the floating method to install, you will need to ensure that there is a some form of moisture blocker between the concrete and your bamboo floors.
Our recommendation in this case and a product that is widely available online and in home improvement stores is Titebond’s 531 Plus Moisture Control System. This solution reduce the rate of moisture transfer from your concrete to your bamboo floors.
5. Be sure to leave an expansion gap between your floors and the wall
Since bamboo is an organic material, over time you can expect your floors to both expand and contract. In order to ensure that you do not cause any damage to your home, it is important that you leave a gap between the ends of your bamboo planks and the walls.
With the glue down method, we recommend that you leave at least 10mm expansion gap, and with the floating method, we recommend that you also leave at least a 10mm expansion gap.
6. Give your floors time to adjust to the climate in the room
Bamboo flooring, as with most other types of wood floors, can be sensitive to the climate where it will be installed. We recommend that, before installation, you remove all of the bamboo planks from their boxes and give them between 48 and 72 hours to grow accustomed to the climate in the room where they will be installed in.
Since a room with concrete floors can be much different from a climate perspective when compared to rooms with other types of underlayment, it is important that you don’t create shortcuts for this step of the process.
Now that you know that this is possible, we know that in can be tempting to solve all of this on your own. Because there is so much to be aware when installing bamboo floors over concrete, it is wise to consult with a professionals to ensure all of your ducks are in a row.
Ideally, you’ll want to consult with a flooring professional who has had experience with installing bamboo or other types of wood floors over concrete slabs.