The What, When, and How of Refinishing Your Bamboo Floors


Bamboo FloorHave you been considering refinishing your bamboo floors? Like hardwood floors, bamboo floors add warmth, beauty, and value to your home. For these reasons, it’s important to maintain them consistently and check regularly to ensure they’re in good repair. It can sometimes be hard to tell when it’s time to refinish your bamboo floors.

Like traditional hardwood floors, bamboo can be a bit deceptive. Should you see scratches or areas of discolorations, don’t panic; they don’t necessarily mean your floors have to be refinished just yet. Conversely, a surface that looks smooth and uniform might actually need some touch-up work. Often, the eyes alone won’t give you an accurate depiction of the shape your floors are in.

If you’re ready to get started, check out this page for Can Bamboo Flooring Be Refinished? A Simple Guide. Please note that not all brands have the same finish, so you will want to contact the manufacturer of your floor to ensure you’re using the right tools, methods, and finish.

 

There is a very simple way you can test your floors to see if they need refinishing:

First

Take a look at the section of flooring in your home that gets the most daily traffic. This will likely be the area that is in most need of being refinished.


Next

Take just a tablespoon of water and pour it onto this section of flooring and watch what happens. If the water forms large droplets that stay on top of the floor’s surface, your finish is in good shape. If the water slowly sinks into your floor, your finish is definitely wearing thin but doesn’t require immediate action. If, however, the water quickly penetrates your floors and leaves a dark spot, your floors may be ready for refinishing. Be sure to wipe up any remaining water after this test.

 

Things to Consider Before Refinishing Your Bamboo Floors

Once you’ve determined that your floors need refinishing, there are some things you must consider before diving right into the project:

Hire a Professional or DIY?

Numerous television programs have many homeowners convinced they can tackle absolutely any home renovation/remodeling project. And with big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s catering to these people, why not think you can handle any job? Though refinishing your floors yourself may be the best choice for your wallet, it may not be the best choice for your floors. Bamboo floors can be difficult and labor-intensive to refinish. Though you can certainly choose to refinish your floors yourself, you may regret taking on this particular project if you don’t have adequate experience.

Rent or Buy Equipment?

If refinishing your bamboo floors sound like something you can handle, you might be inclined to run out to a hardware store and buy a sander or duster if you don’t already have one. But remember, you will only be using this expensive tool once and then not again for another 10 or so years. Your local home improvement center rents out these tools so you can keep your costs as low as possible. You will, however, want to purchase your own safety glasses and ventilation mask because you’ll likely use them again.

Do You Even Need to Sand?

You may not even need to sand your floors. If the wear and scratching are minimal and don’t reach the actual bamboo, you might be able to get away with using a buffer to scuff-sand and only have to apply one or two coats of finish. This will save you time and money.

You’ll Need a Full Day

If sanding is required, you’ll want to seal your floors the same day you sand them to prevent any moisture from being absorbed into your bamboo planks. Also, depending on the drying time for the finish you have selected, you’ll want to plan on completing your project in one day. Then allow 24 hours for the seal to completely dry before loading furniture and rugs back into the room.

Test for Oil

You won’t be able to buff a room that has been cleaned or waxed with an oil-based soap. If this is the case, your floors will have to be stripped first with an ammonia and water mixture or an industrial cleaner. Test a corner of your floor for oil by lightly sanding and applying a little finish. If it sets, you’re fine and can proceed with sanding/buffing. And remember, always check with your manufacturer first about the sanding and buffing methods that are acceptable for your finish type!

Use a Sheepskin Applicator

If you want to get the absolute best finish, you’ll want to use a sheepskin applicator. Using a brush will streak your floors, and rollers will create awful pools of finish that will discolor your floors. But using a sheepskin applicator will ensure your finish is smooth and even. Again, check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Buff and Clean Between Coats

Once your first coat of finish dries, you’ll need to buff the floor to remove any impurities. Make sure you clean up all of the dust before applying another coat. You can simply use an oil-infused cheesecloth to wipe up the buffer dust. And don’t forget to check with your manufacturer’s instructions.

Types of Finishes

Polyurethane

Since being introduced in the 1970s, polyurethanes have become today’s standard floor finishes. Water-based polyurethanes have a very low VOC content and are generally easy for a DIYer to apply. It’s recommended you use three to four coats. Water-based polys are great because they dry quickly (usually between two and four hours), they don’t give off nasty odors, and they don’t yellow like oil polys. They are, however, more expensive than oil polys. Oil-based polyurethanes are tougher, longer-lasting, and cheaper than water polys, but they do have a slight initial off-gassing odor when you open the boxes (not harmful). They also take longer to dry, so it’s recommended you get your family (pets included!) out of the house for 8-10 hours while the floors are drying.

Oil Sealer

Oil sealers have been used for centuries to seal and finish floors. Oil sealers have a couple of great things going for them: they are easy to apply, and spot touch-ups are incredibly simple. Another nice benefit is that because the oil penetrates the wood or bamboo, it enhances the color and grain patterns. Also, oil doesn’t scratch, but you will need to recoat every two to three years since your finish will wear down.

Wax

Wax is one of the most traditional ways to finish a hardwood floor and was the method of choice before polyurethanes came onto the scene in the 1970s. For homeowners who don’t like a high gloss finish but prefer a low-sheen look, wax (either the paste or the liquid) would be a great option. Wax is also a natural finish with low VOCs and toxicity. It should be noted that wax tends to darken the wood, so if this is not the look you want but you still would like to use a wax finish, then be sure to first apply a base coat of sanding sealer or shellac.

 

The finish on dark-stained strand bamboo flooring sanded down to reveal

carbonized bamboo flooring beneath stain, test finish applied

Finish on dark-stained

 

 

After the initial run with sanders using the cross-grinding technique

After the initial

 

 

The appearance of a sanded floor once the final smooth grit sanding process is

completed and before applying the urethane finish layer

The appearance of a sanded floor

 

 

Half unfinished and half-finished, starting to come together!

Half unfinished

 

 

The final finished floor – strand is woven carbonized bamboo flooring

The final finished floor

 

 

Sanding down the stair treads, which were built using

flooring planks and stair noses

Refinishing Strand Woven Bamboo Flooring

 

 

Fully sanded bamboo staircase

Fully sanded bamboo staircase

 

 

Final finished bamboo stair treads with white poplar risers

Finished Stranderd BambooFloor

ambient free flooring samples




Categories: Flooring, Home Improvement, Interior Decorating

6 replies

  1. I have a bamboo floor which I would like stained a darker colour.
    At the moment it is a light colour.
    I would like a quote please.

    Regards

    Ross

    • Hi Ross! Unfortunately we don’t provide refinishing or installation services, as we are a bamboo flooring brand/manufacturer only. We recommend that you seek out the help of a an NWFA-certified professional. While can be refinished and clear-coated, it typically cannot be stained on site, however the traditional “classic” styles of bamboo flooring such as horizontal and vertical grains can be stained onsite.

  2. My light colored bamboo floor has yellowed terribly. Do you think I need to have them professionally sanded and stained? It sure looks like an enormous job to do myself. I was thinking of replacing them altogether since they look so bad and have so many marks and scratches. I do not know what kind of bamboo it is.

    • Hi Bonnie,

      I recommend that you contact the manufacturer of your floors to see if they can be refinished or if they have any maintenance tips they can offer.

  3. I have just placed a bamboo flooring and need it sealed . Any recommendations of where I would get the sander or a company to finish this off for me

    • I’m sorry, we don’t have any recommendations on finding a refinishing company or rental locator. You will have better luck searching for one in your area using your favorite internet search engine.

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