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Bamboo Flooring Recommmended Adhesives

Gluing your bamboo floor to your sub-floor is almost always your best option. Whether you glue down directly to concrete, above a wood sub floor or on top of felt paper; gluing provides a strong bond. Other benefits of gluing your bamboo floor are that most adhesives act as a sound barrier and prevents the squeaking noises often associated with nail or floating installations. Keep in mind, that if you do decide to glue the floor, it will be hard to get up. If the glue down application is the method chosen, be sure to use a premium wood flooring adhesive. The glue must be urethane based and not water based, in fact it is best to use an adhesive that has 0% water. Check with the glue manufacturer for warranty information, installation instructions, and guidelines for safe use, as well as storage and handling as bamboo floor suppliers often do not warrant the glue. There are several different brands of glue that offer similar strength and durability. Be aware that some of the main adhesive companies offer similar products at different prices. (ie Bostik’s Best vs. durabond d-332). Wear gloves and long sleeves to avoid contact with skin. Start planks square with the room and parallel to its longest dimension by positioning with a chalk line to work off of. Leave a minimum 1/4" expansion space from base plate or wall to allow the flooring to expand without bowing or cracking. Ensure starter rows are firmly in place by wedging or face nailing. Once initial rows are secure, you can use one of two methods:

The Flash Method

The "flashed" method is when the adhesive is allowed to flash for the recommended amount of time prior to installing the wood flooring. While using this method, you are advised to trowel out larger sections of the room so that you spend most of your time laying wood rather than flashing adhesive. Be careful not to exceed the open time and do not trowel more adhesive than you can comfortably cover with the flooring in two hours.
   
The Wet Lay Method

Apply adhesive to substrate with suitable trowel. Immediately place flooring onto "wet" adhesive. Spread no more adhesives than can be worked with in a forty-minute period (100 to 200 sq. ft.). Clean any adhesive that comes in contact with the face of the plank immediately. Use straps if necessary to remove any bowing or "banana" that is common in many types of plank flooring. This will ensure proper alignment of the rows and eliminate gaps along the length of the planks. Blue painters tape should be used to prevent slippage from one another by placing the tape perpendicular to the length of the planks, crossing over multiple planks. Once the adhesive has set, remove the tape. Use weights if necessary to remove any bowing of the planks.

How to apply the adhesive

Trowel applied

Use the manufacturers recommended trowel size, dump a small amount of glue onto the sub-floor and spread the glue in circles using the trowel. The recommended trowel is usually about 2-3 inches long with notches or “teeth”.Pros: Strong and durable adhesion. Cons: Adds time to install and usually cost more.

Paint Roller Glue down

In this method of gluing down, you are accentual painting your floor with adhesive. Use a long handle pant roller and dip it into the adhesive as needed. Work time is usually 20-40 minutes and cure times range from 14-20 hours. Pros:Easy install, only need one coat. Cons: Less durable.

Glue Bottle

This type of glue is meant for use in the tongue and groove of bamboo flooring. Apply 4-6 inches of glue every 6 inches on the bottom lip of the groove, join the boards together and let cure for 24 hours. Use premium wood glue that passes the ANSI Type II water resistance test. Glue Bottles are usually 12-20 oz and cover 50 - 100 square feet.

Moisture Barrier

While bamboo flooring is much more stable than most woods, it is still subject to damage when in direct contact with a constantly wet slab (of concrete). The bamboo flooring should be isolated from this type of slab by use of a moisture barrier, plywood on slab, or a sleeper sub-floor. 

Urethane adhesive will usually fail when vapor pressure exceeds 3 pounds per 1000 sq. ft. in 24 hours as measured by the calcium chloride test. Bamboo flooring should not be glued down under those conditions.