Install Bamboo Floors

Host Steve Watson shows homeowners how to install bamboo floors in their media room.

Materials and Tools:



Bamboo laminate flooring is durable and adds warmth to a basement floor.

Bamboo laminate flooring is durable and adds warmth to a basement floor.

bamboo flooring (amount varies on room)
six 2 x 4s (8 feet long)
90 linear feet base molding
20 linear feet casing
20 linear feet brick molding
500 square feet laminate underlayment
two thresholds
90 linear feet shoe molding
chalk line
laminate blade for miter box
measuring tape
power miter box
speed square
staple gun
trim cutting pliers


1. Measure the length and width of the room. Multiply these measurements to get the square footage (add 10 percent to allow for waste). If the room shape is complex, divide the area into rectangles. Measure each rectangle and add the square footage of each one.

2. Remove carpet if necessary. If you're working on top of a tile or wood floor, make sure there are no loose tiles or planks. If the floor is new, make sure there are no nails or screws sticking up. Bring the flooring into the room 24 hours before you begin the installation. The flooring needs to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room.

3. The foam underlayment for laminate flooring prevents squeaks, adds a layer of insulation and cushioning, helps absorb sound and adds longevity. Lay the underlayment in the same direction of your flooring. Lay only a couple rows at a time, so you don’t tear up unprotected underlayment while working.

4. Measure the width of a single plank of flooring. Pick the wall you're starting on, and measure the width of a plank, plus 1/4-inch from the wall (see note below). Measure each end, and then snap a chalk line to mark location for the first row. "Click and lock" flooring is very unforgiving, so starting in a straight line will ensure that the rest stay straight as well.

5. Lay the floor. Click the flooring in according to manufacturer's directions. Each brand is slightly different. When you get to the end of a run, measure the remaining space. Cut the board using a power miter saw, 1/4-inch shorter than the measurement. If the piece you cut off is more than a foot long, use that piece to start the next row. Be sure to start the next row leaving a 1/4-inch gap at the wall.

6. On the last row of flooring, you'll probably have to rip it to fit. Measure the gap between the previous row and the wall. Subtract 1/4-inch and make the cut. Measure each end of the plank, in case the walls are out of square.

7. Most brands of flooring have matching finishing strips. These include thresholds (for doorways), reducing strips (for laminate-to-carpet transitions), stair caps and transition strips (for laminate-to-laminate or laminate-to-hardwood transitions). Choose the correct finishing strips and install them.

8. Use prefinished shoe molding to cover the 1/4-inch gap you left around the room. You can buy the shoe prefinished or finish it yourself. Either way, be sure the molding is painted or stained before installation so you don’t have to spend the time taping and trim-painting everything while crawling around on the floor. Cut the molding with a power miter saw, a hand miter saw or trim-cutting pliers.

Why leave a 1/4-inch gap?
Laminate flooring is a combination of plastics and wood. Both of these materials are susceptible to humidity and temperature changes. By leaving a 1/4-inch gap around the perimeter, you're giving the material room to expand and contract, avoiding buckling and warping.

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