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Can You/Should You Lay Bamboo Over Hardwood Floors?

Hardwood floors are beautiful, valuable, and — when properly maintained — extremely durable. However, you may find yourself wanting to switch over to a new kind of flooring after several decades, and bamboo might just catch your eye. So, can you install bamboo flooring without having to remove the hardwood boards underneath?

You can lay bamboo over hardwood floors by loose-laying, gluing, or secret-nailing the boards down. It’s best to use a suitable vapor barrier underlay and check that your room’s humidity is between 35% and 65% to prevent gaps and warping. Also, bamboo needs at least ten days to acclimatize.

Bamboo plant in front of bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring is suitable for any room of the house, extremely strong, and available in a myriad of colors and patterns. Learn how to install bamboo flooring over your hardwood boards below.

What Is Bamboo Flooring?

Bamboo flooring

If you love the texture and beauty of natural wood but not its price tag, you may already be considering alternative options for your home’s flooring. Bamboo flooring has become an increasingly appreciated alternative to hardwood flooring because of its strength, versatility, and sustainability.

Unlike wood, bamboo is a type of grass native to China, and it’s one of the most sustainable materials in circulation today. It has similar characteristics to wood, but it grows back within five years instead of the 23-30 years that a tree takes to reach full size. Additionally, bamboo harvest doesn’t harm the environment or the planet like wood.

When harvested, you can cut bamboo into strands and strips that are then dyed and woven into floor planks – as well as other objects. The different types of bamboo flooring include:

  • Horizontal bamboo: Strands glued together horizontally, boasting a more evident grain.
  • Vertical bamboo: Strands glued together vertically with a thinner and less noticeable grain.
  • Strand woven bamboo: Strands woven together, undergoing a high-pressure strengthening process; harder than any type of hardwood.

Bamboo planks undergo a strengthening process that uses carbonization and high pressures to increase the bamboo’s hardness, giving the planks an impressive Janka hardness rating of 1180-5000.

Can You Lay Bamboo Over Hardwood?

Confused carpenter with power drill and hammer

As we’ve seen, bamboo floorboards are extremely hard and resistant, and you can easily install them over an existing floor – from concrete to hardwood planks.

There are generally three ways to lay bamboo over hardwood:

  • Loose-lay
  • Screwing or nailing down (using secret nails)
  • Glue down

The installation also depends on the manufacturer’s instruction and the types of planks. In either case, the bamboo boards must sit perpendicularly to the wooden planks underneath. It’s also essential to properly prepare the existing floor and subfloor by sanding down any finish or glue that may still be on the planks and lay an adequate underlay.

When installing bamboo, remember that bamboo expands and contracts, depending on the heat and humidity. That said, always leave a 10mm gap between the floor planks and the room’s perimeter. This step is where spacers come in handy!

Should You Put Bamboo Over Hardwood?

Confused carpenter scratching head

Now you know that you can install bamboo planks over hardwood floors. The process is simple, and, depending on the bamboo, it can be a DIY project.

However, bamboo flooring might not be the most suitable alternative for all kinds of flooring. Before you install bamboo over hardwood floor, here are some tips:

Assess the Room’s Humidity Level

Bamboo floors boast a much higher resistance to humidity and moisture than hardwood, but it also has some highly similar characteristics. High levels of moisture — or drastic drops and spikes in the room’s humidity — can cause unsightly gaps and warping.

Before installing bamboo flooring, you need to control the temperature and moisture level in the room. Bamboo is hygroscopic, which means that it’ll naturally change shape based on the moisture that it absorbs or releases.

You might also have to install a vapor barrier underlay, allow the planks to acclimatize for at least ten days, and provide room for an expansion gap.

Also, avoid installing bamboo in particularly humid rooms. As a rule, the relative humidity range should remain between 35% and 65% for optimal care. These percentages vary depending on the geographical area and climate characteristics. Still, if your humidity levels are much higher or lower, consider investing in a moisture control system, such as a dehumidifier.

Check That the Floor Is Level & Flat

The hardwood floor below must be flat and level before installing bamboo on top. If your hardwood floor has hills and valleys, the bamboo planks’ click or tongue and groove system might not work as well. And, due to high levels of footfall, gaps under the interlocking system can cause irreversible damages.

If your hardwood floor isn’t perfect, you can sand it down to achieve a flat surface. Or, you might need to install plywood planks on top of it. In any case, just laying an underlay might not level out differences in height.

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on May 17, 2021.

Remove Any Finish With Sandpaper

It’s not uncommon for wooden floors to boast a coating or finish. While these are what make your wooden floor so shiny and appealing, they can make glue much less efficient. Therefore, if you use the glue-down method to install your bamboo, consider removing any finish or coating with sandpaper.

Acclimatize the Bamboo for 5-10 Days

Bamboo planks need to become acclimatized to the room where you install them. The acclimatization period should last a minimum of 5-10 days, allowing the planks to rest in their eventual post-installation position.

Remove the planks from the package and spread them out as much as possible on the floor. The temperature and humidity levels in the room should be average for that part of the house.

This acclimatization period is essential for the planks to get used to the humidity level and expand and contract to balance. Thanks to this period, you won’t have to deal with unexpected and unsightly expansion and gaps after installing your new floors.

How To Install Bamboo Over Hardwood

Handyman with hammer and power drill

When installing bamboo over a hardwood floor, there are three methods you can follow. The right one depends on the manufacturer’s instructions, types of planks, and the room’s characteristics.

Using Secret Screws

Hidden screws are an excellent way to secure your tongue and groove bamboo planks to the existing hardwood floor. Thanks to a specifically designed device, you can ensure that the nail pierces through the groove part of the plank, securing it to the existing floor.

In the ideal world, you’d have at least three nails or screws per planks located towards the center to avoid splitting or cracking.

Install a Floating Bamboo Floor

Loose-lay bamboo floors are trendy for their easy installation. They usually come with a click and lock or tongue and groove locking system. The most important step of installing a floating bamboo floor is the choice and installation of the underlay.

This underlay will make the floor quieter and ensure that the interlocking system remains healthy and efficient for longer. You might consider various options in terms of bamboo floor underlay, including a vapor barrier and cork.

But first, ensure that the existing floor is flat and level, as the underlay won’t correct these imperfections.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on May 17, 2021.

Glue the Bamboo Planks Down

The last option is to glue the bamboo planks down. This method creates a strong, secure, and resistant floor. After ensuring that the first row is in place and secured, you can continue to install the rest of the planks safely. For this method, you need to sand down the hardwood planks to remove any oil, coating, or finish to make the glue less efficient.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 17, 2021.

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