Bamboo Flooring Adhesives
Choosing a bamboo flooring adhesive may depend on what type of sub-floor you have in your installation project. Here is a guide to help you choose the best bamboo flooring adhesives for you.
How to Glue Down Bamboo Flooring
Gluing down bamboo flooring is a great method to use in lots of areas of the home and on many types of subfloors as it often provides better sound and insulating qualities. Gluing is simply one alternative to nailing or floating a bamboo floor—other methods that are used for their own reasons. It’s important to know what you’re doing before you attempt to glue down a bamboo floor. It doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but it requires care and close attention to detail while choosing an adhesive, planning the project, and following all of the steps for preparation, application, and cleanup!
Which subfloors are acceptable for gluing down bamboo flooring?
Bamboo can be glued to many different types of subfloors. Always check the instructions on the adhesive before purchasing, and make sure to follow them step by step. A subfloor that is not properly prepared can ruin your new bamboo floor or cause damage and wear quickly.
- Plywood or OSB
- Firm linoleum
- Firm kitchen vinyl
What types of glue should be used for the different subfloors?
There are a few different kinds of adhesives you can use to glue down bamboo floors:
- Urethane flooring adhesive – this adhesive is highly versatile and can be used with bamboo on almost any substrate. Most brands adhere to at least concrete, various woods including old hardwood or any plywood and OSB, vinyl, and ceramic tile.
- Modified silicone polymer flooring adhesive – this adhesive is good for concrete floors at or above grade.
- Hybrid-polymer flooring adhesive – this works on plywood, concrete and cement terrazzo, and ceramic tile.
- Do not use other types of construction adhesives. Adhesive that forms a permanent bond won’t allow the flexing needed during natural movement of planks.
- Note: If you will be gluing over concrete floors, the concrete needs to be sealed or you have to use an adhesive with a moisture barrier in it.
Some adhesives are specially made to offer moisture protection or sound dampening qualities. If you are flooring over an area with concrete slab, crawl space, or another place with possible moisture issues, this type of adhesive can help avoid problems.
What is a moisture-cure urethane?
You may see this term while shopping for flooring adhesive. Adding the “moisture-cure” element means that the adhesive will be particularly durable and impervious to household chemicals. It also adds moisture-resistance to the floor because the adhesive binds with moisture in the air to cure and strengthen.
What tools do I need to glue down my bamboo flooring?
Be sure to look at the manufacturer’s specifications for tools needed, especially trowel recommendations. Using the wrong type of trowel can reduce the adhesion of your flooring to the substrate and cause problems for the installation. Trowels used for floor adhesive are generally rectangular with an easy to grip handle and come in various sizes, and sizes of the notches vary.
- Square notch
The adhesive will usually suggest the size and type of trowel to use in their instructions. Most people find that a square notched trowel is recommended for bamboo flooring adhesives instead of a trowel with V-shaped or U-shaped teeth. The square teeth leave a medium amount of adhesive on the surface. A U-shape leaves the most and V-shape leaves the least, so square offers a middle of the road amount. Other jobs and construction materials have special trowels for doing things like cement and masonry work, tiling, plaster, and even things like gardening and archaeology!
Before you start the process, it’s important to also have all the tools needed for cleanup. You don’t want to be caught in a sticky situation where you don’t have what you need to clean up glue!
- Mineral spirits
- Nail polish remover
- Rags or cloths
- Melamine sponge
- Utility knife
- Trowel wipes
- Duct tape
- Painter’s tape
Some adhesive manufacturers make floor adhesive cleanup products like trowel wipes, but keeping rags and mineral spirits available for periodically cleaning off the tools as you go is a good idea to keep any stray adhesive from becoming a near-permanent fixture on your tools. For small spots, some people report that a melamine sponge like the Magic Eraser can work, but don’t count on it! Your best bet is to clean up smudges or glue splats while they’re wet.
How much glue do you use to adhere bamboo floors?
First, calculate the square footage of the room to understand how much floor adhesive to buy. Then, how much glue you actually lay on the floor depends on the method and substrate. This is where practice makes perfect, and why it’s helpful to read instructions carefully. It’s hard for beginners to know just by looking at the floor how much flooring adhesive to use, so start on the lighter side and see how far it goes. You don’t want too much glue on the floor. It can come up between the boards or get into seams before you push planks together and cause issues. But not using enough glue will keep the flooring from sticking properly.
What methods are used for gluing bamboo flooring?
There are different ways that you can learn for how to glue down bamboo floors. The different styles of adhering the planks to the substrate depend on the type of adhesive and the subflooring, so be sure you know the proper steps before beginning the process.
Some adhesives require a period of time to set or “flash” before the bamboo flooring can be glued down. This is because the adhesive needs to rest briefly before reaching full strength and can be ready for bamboo flooring. To do this, simply use the appropriate trowel to spread out a large portion of adhesive. By covering a larger area, you can go back to the spot where you started and prepare to glue down your bamboo floor planks. Even though this method covers are larger portion of the floor in glue, it’s crucial that you don’t lay down too much or it will become too stiff before you get to it, making installation difficult, or even requiring the painstaking removal of adhesive.
Wet Lay Method
Wet lay is a more immediate method of how to glue down bamboo floors. When you use the wet lay technique, you apply a much smaller area of adhesive and lay down the planks right away, without waiting for the glue to flash. Instead of laying enough adhesive to work for two hours, you should not lay more than you can cover in 45 minutes. Because of the quicker drying time for bamboo floor adhesives that use this method, it’s especially important to quickly clean up any spills or seepage that comes up between planks. It will dry before you know it, and then it’s a real pain to get it off!
Remember, once the floor is glued down, it will become extremely difficult to get it back up. Use your time wisely and plan the project ahead of time so you don’t run into a glue disaster.
Gluing Bamboo Floors: Pro Tips
Here are some great tips we’ve learned for gluing down your bamboo floor.
Project Planning for Gluing Bamboo Floors
Before you get started, do the math! Make sure you have enough flooring and adhesive, all the tools, and know the direction you’ll be going as well as any difficult areas or angles you’ll need to address. If you’re gluing down bamboo flooring around door jambs or other unique areas, cut all of those pieces before you lay down adhesive. This will prevent you from having to take a long time away from gluing to cut difficult pieces, and it will keep you from accidentally getting a sticky mess on other parts of the floor or on your tools.
Bamboo Floor Adhesive Cleanup
To make cleanup easier, duct tape the bottom of your trowel, leaving just the teeth exposed. At the end of gluing for the day or before you take a break, scrape the trowel and wipe off the teeth. The next day that you’re gluing, you can simply peel off the duct tape from last time and begin with a clean trowel.
Roll with It!
You may be able to help adhesion of the planks to the subfloor by using a roller on planks that have been installed. While the adhesive is still moist, roll a 100-pound roller along the section you just completed. You can also walk across the planks using your bodyweight. Hard to reach sections of the floor and the perimeter of a room is a good area to place weights or use a roller since it can be challenging to place all of your bodyweight on each of those planks.
Floor adhesives can stick to skin or cause a reaction. Glue can also dry your skin and cause irritation and discomfort. Make sure that you wear gloves when necessary, and follow any other precautions listed by the manufacturer of your adhesive.
What to Do After Installation
Once your floors are installed, there will be a period of time where you are not advised to permit regular traffic through the room, nor should you immediately bring in furniture and rugs. For some adhesives, that’s just a few hours, where others will recommend 12 or more hours. Make sure to follow instructions to allow the adhesive to set so you don’t inadvertently cause a shift in boards that could compromise your installation.