Solid Bamboo Flooring Install Tips?
December 4, 2014 7:59 PM   Subscribe

Anyone have tips for installing "hardwood" (solid, not interlocking) bamboo flooring? ...using the "manual" (no air compressor) cleat nailer? I'm new to this and wondering (as usual) what the tricks are that you only learn the hard way (by doing) that you regret not knowing in advance.

Also, if I'm persistent but not particularly energetic, can I knock out 300' sq. in <48 hours? (Do I rent the cleat nailer for $40 Saturday afternoon - Monday morning or, if it'll take me two rentals at $80+, do I buy a refurbished one for $99 and not break my neck rushing?)
posted by Shane to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have not done the bamboo, but I have installed well over 1000 sf of hardwood so far, and my last room looked pretty good. I think you will need to get the air nailer. It makes a huge difference and you will also need a 'pin' nailer-an 18 gauge regular nailer for doing the areas where you can't get a hammer swing in on regular ones. You will also need at least a jig saw (but a power miter saw is MUCH better, fast and cleaner) for cutting to length as you get near a wall and a circular saw for trimming the last board to width (it never, never, never comes out to a whole board).

The hardest thing to do is get tight joints between the boards. It takes some practice and it is the mark between an amateur job and a pro job. So use crowbars and swing the hammer FULL force when you drive the nail. If you mess up and get a lousy joint (to wide or the board isn't straight) undo it before driving another nail. Pulling one nail is doable, pulling out several sucks bad.

Open up several boxes so you get an even mix of lengths and colors-it varies somewhat between boxes and it looks weird if you get a bunch of long boards than a string of short boards, same with color.

Orient the boards along the longest axis of the room-it makes it feel bigger.

You will also use the pin nailer to fasten the finish wall trim along the perimeter to cover the unfinish edges around the room and it helps so you don't have to cut the board exactly right or even.

You can do all this without a pneumatic nailer but it will takes much longer, is more prone to error and is much, much harder on your body. If you haven't spent all day swinging a hammer before, it really takes it out of you and you will be SORE. Prepare for it and take ibuprofen as needed. And read some online guides or check out a DIY book from the library for this-it will cover tons more in detail than i can write.
posted by bartonlong at 8:15 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Buy the nailer. That way, you can do the layout better, as suggested by bartonlong. Don't forget to open the boxes and have the wood come to ambient moisture content before start nailing stuff down. Sell the nailer on ebay when you're done.

My partner did the board layout for me, which allowed me to just nail. We had an underlayment of red rosin paper, which was over properly spaced plywood sheets: no squeaks ten years later.

It took me three strikes to do each nail, and I was able to bring slightly warped red oak tongue-and-groove into linear compliance every time by modulating my blows. Don't work so hard that you get tired or sloppy. Easy does it, if you own the nailer.

Soma FM/Groove Salad accompanied me while I was doing 900 square feet of red oak.
posted by the Real Dan at 8:34 PM on December 4, 2014

Best answer: I am normally a Festool or Fein guy, but Harbor Freight actually does a passable job with nailers. My Dad had the Porter Cable, it broke on him, he went to rent one, discovered that he was renting the Harbor Freight flooring nailer for half the purchase price per day, and it worked better than his Porter Cable. So I've bought one, I've used it to run about 150 square feet of hickory, and will use it for another 40 or so before I pass it on to someone else.

Heck, if you're in the North SF Bay area and want to borrow mine for a weekend (or, come January or so when I've done my additional 40 ft2, an indefinite loan), give a holler.

If your prep work is done (relatively flat subfloor, no nails sticking out, etc), I believe you can easily nail out 300 ft2 in 2 days, especially if you've got someone else to help with measuring and cutting the lengths. Mrs. straw helped with the prep, but she was out of town when I laid the floor in our kitchen and I don't think it took me an afternoon (a little bit easier because that last strip that bartonlong mentioned was buried deep under cabinets, so I didn't have to rip accurately...).
posted by straw at 6:57 AM on December 5, 2014

« Older The Monster in the Closet   |   What's the Best Knee Brace for me? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.