In one of the professional wood carvers’ social media groups I follow, bamboo wood staining is one of the most common ‘help’ questions I come across. It really comes down to the same question, though; can you stain bamboo wood?

Well, if you’re accustomed to painting bamboo, you might discover that staining bamboo wood is a completely different game.

In a couple of ways, bamboo wood can add a more refreshingly earthy and tropical flair to your space—both interior and exterior.

Are you like me—always drawn to the tiki theme, island aesthetic, and all-natural look? Then this article will do you good. Read and apply it to see the richness of your bamboo’s natural sheen come through.

Can You Stain Bamboo Wood? 

Yes, you can stain bamboo wood to change the natural color to your desired look or even a different color. This means you can match your decor and make bamboo wood attractive, which is why it’s used for decoration. While you can paint bamboo wood, staining it would make it more beautiful.

What are Bamboo Stains?

Bamboo stains are polishes that protect and add color to bamboo wood projects such as fences, slats, poles and borders. Stains consist of oils and pigments that suit a specific purpose.

When using stains or sealants, you should stain your bamboo the same way you apply paint. When done right, the result is a more vibrant, glossy shine.

How to Prepare Bamboo for Staining

Bamboo wood is a popular building material that is also used for décor, making furniture, and other products. When you’ve made up your mind to use bamboo wood, use the procedure below to prepare your bamboo before staining.

Preparation for staining

  1. Wash and clean your bamboo using a rag or non-abrasive cloth and soapy water. Let the bamboo dry completely.
  2. Using fine grained sandpaper, gently sand and remove the natural waxy layer on the bamboo. This is the outer layer that makes it difficult to stain your bamboo wood. Ensure the bamboo is sanded evenly so as to guarantee even staining. This will give it a mottled look.
  3. If the bamboo wood to be stained has been out in the weather for several months, it’s almost obvious that it’ll be adorned in a light gray color. Weathered bamboo has no waxy layer—the tough outer layer and hence can easily take stains, paint or varnish. You’ll only need to do the first step.

Keep in mind that when bamboo is sanded, its texture will change, given that its natural gloss sheen is lost and the nodes are reduced.

How to Stain Bamboo

Naturally, bamboo is a gorgeous and sturdy material that becomes even more appealing when stained.

Materials and supplies

  • Rubber gloves
  • Rag/sponge
  • Stain
  • Sealer

Step-by-step procedure

  1. Wear rubber gloves and cover your work area with newspapers.
  2. Using a rag or sponge, stain the bamboo in circular motions. The node areas are delicate. Pay more attention to them.
  3. In case the bamboo fails to take in the stain, gently wipe off any extra stain using a rag and let the area dry completely. Re-sand the area and try to re-stain.
  4. Let the stain dry for the hours recommended by the manufacturer. Add several coats to attain your desired colour. After each coat dries, lightly sand the bamboo before adding the next coat. This makes the new coat adhere perfectly.
  5. Finally, apply the first coat and then the second coat of sealant to bring back the bamboo’s natural beauty of a glossy shine and help prevent it from getting brittle. If the stain doesn’t come out as you expected, here’s how to fix a bad stain job.

Pros of Staining Natural Bamboo

Stains and sealants enhance the life of your bamboo, giving it a personalized touch. These bamboo products enable you to spruce up your bamboo projects while adding a refreshing, all-natural tinge to your interior and exterior spaces.

Here are more reasons why you need to stain your natural bamboo.

  • Durability – Increases the lifespan of your bamboo projects.
  • Versatile – You can customize its color to match your décor or give it different colors.
  • Water resistance – Stains are waterproof and hence help to protect your bamboo from damage.
  • Aesthetics – Stained bamboo is appealing, and its polished, glossy shine will wow your guests and make heads turn.
  • Eco-friendly – Reduces carbon footprint and the need to cut other types of wood.

What’s the Best Stain to Enhance the Natural Look of Your Bamboo?

Ideally, the best stain for your bamboo will depend on your personal preferences and wood’s coloration. You can always accentuate your bamboo flooring, bamboo furniture, or bamboo fence with rich oil based stains.

So, what’s the best stain for your bamboo? Well, we sampled a few natural bamboo stains, and here are our go-to stains for bamboo staining:

1. Light Cedar

A perfect option if you’re looking for that natural-colored bamboo fencing. This mellow oil that comes in a yellow or pale tan hue is designed to enrich the light- to medium-shaded natural bamboo tints.

If your bamboo fence is burnt, light exterior cedar stain can work wonders to enhance its stalk’s color and accentuate the appearance of the burnt nodes.

Typically, light cedar colored stain is not ideal for black bamboo fencing since the color is too dark for the stain’s light coloration.

2. Dark Oak

Use dark oak stains on your natural bamboo furniture or bamboo fencing. As the name suggests, this stain is deep brown and perfect for enhancing darker bamboo wood colors.

Thanks to its rich shade, the stain works to bring out the natural black bamboo’s glossy sheen and bright luster for a nourished, unique look. Consider this stain if you wish to change your bamboo flooring color to a darker brown tint.

3. Cedartone

This stain is a bit darker than light cedar with some darker undertones that make it incredible for giving a shade that blends well with the dark oak and lighter shade. Use cedar tone to create warm looks and a tropical oasis that exude opulence.

4. Black Walnut

The black walnut should be your best choice if you’re looking for that dark tinge of sophistication. Coming in darker and cooler tones than dark oak, the black Walnut hues can turn your bamboo furniture, fence, or flooring into a state-of-the-art aesthetic.

How Long Does Bamboo Wood Last?

Bamboo wood is a long-term investment that will not wear, peel or break down like wood and steel, which chip, rust, wear down, or lose their glossy sheen.

As a matter of fact, bamboo is such a durable material with remarkable strength, waterproof capabilities and resistance to wear and tear.

What’s more, its tensile strength and strength-to-weight ratio are considered stronger than steel. To answer the question…When properly maintained, stained and sealed bamboo wood can last up to 20 years.

How to Clean and Maintain Your Bamboo

Bamboo wood is versatile, durable, and easy to install and maintain. It, therefore, goes without saying that its regular cleaning and maintenance keeps its luster and quality intact.

To ensure your bamboo fence, flooring, or furniture stays in perfect shape, clean and stain it. Below are some useful tips for cleaning and maintaining your bamboo projects.

  • The first cleaning of your bamboo should be a year after the project is completed. Hence, clean it every 2-3 years or as the need arises based on the condition of your project. Outdoor projects like fences may require regular maintenance considering its exposure to the weather elements.
  • Mix one part bleach against three parts water and use the mixture to clean your bamboo product. You can find other ecologically safe cleaners in your local hardware store.
  • For your outdoor bamboo woodwork, use a power washer and nylon scrub brush that’s bristle to clean and rinse your bamboo wood. Remember to remove any mold, dirt, and residue.
  • For indoor bamboo furniture or flooring, use a cloth or scrub brush to clean before using water and rag to gently rinse. In the absence of a power washer, you can use a spray bottle to apply the cleaning solution.
  • Avoid putting the item in water or near wet or damp areas to stem mold from growing beneath your bamboo products. For fences in rainy regions or near sprinklers, leave a gap or install a spacer between the bamboo’s bottom and the ground.
  • Besides bleach and water, you can also use a mixture of water and mild dish detergent to clean small amounts of stains, dirt and debris. Anything your rag or brush can’t remove should be cleared with a pressurized spray using your power washer.
  • Use vinegar or any fungicide to clear persistent mold that’s growing on your bamboo wood surfaces. However, fungicides are recommended for outdoor use only.
  • Finally, don’t forget to seal your bamboo surfaces. This is important as it helps to maintain the bamboo. In fact, it should form part of your regular cleaning and maintenance routine. A good sealant is as great as high gloss paint and will safeguard your bamboo against elements including detrimental insects like termites.

Why You Need to Seal Your Bamboo Wood Before Staining

In addition to enhancing the aesthetics of this natural material, sealing your bamboo wood has a myriad of benefits. Below are the main reasons why you need to seal your bamboo.

Weather Resistance

High-quality sealants like TWP stains are versatile and protect your bamboo against weather elements like wind, rain and sun because it’s water and Ultra Violet (UV) resistant.

Failure to seal your bamboo wood can mean your bamboo will lose its luster and become brittle hence less appealing.

Fading

Over time, your bamboo items will fade due to exposure to the sun, moisture, or typical wear and tear. But you can use stains and sealers to reverse the loss of color and restore your bamboo’s naturally dry color while replenishing its appearance.

Without staining and sealing, your bamboo fades and loses its natural beauty.

Longevity

Staining and sealing your bamboo is equal to durability. Without sealing your bamboo, chances are you’ll have to replace it sooner than later.

Reinforcement

Besides being resistant to external elements, sealants protect bamboo against wear and tear. For example, sealers can safeguard your bamboo flooring from the high wear and tear it’s exposed to due to active and frequent use.

Conclusion

So, can you stain bamboo wood? If elegance with a natural feel is your forte, then bamboo wood is for you.

Whether you’re installing a new fence, flooring or furniture, you can always bring out the best that your bamboo has to offer by using rich oil based stains for a refreshing and accentuated look.

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