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How to Stain Bamboo

Bamboo is a hardy material used in the construction of both indoor and outdoor furniture. Although different species of bamboo come in different colors, sheen, and textures, in general, bamboo’s naturally dry color is a yellow, cream color. You may want to learn how to stain bamboo a darker color or different color to change the look of your outdoor furniture or to make the look of a room more cohesive. Perhaps you are creating a project and want to give it a unique look. Whatever your motivations, you can accomplish this goal after you purchase a few items.

EditSteps

  1. Image titled Stain Bamboo Step 1
    Wash the bamboo with a non-abrasive cloth, soap, and water before getting ready to change the color of bamboo. Allow the bamboo to dry completely.
  2. Image titled Stain Bamboo Step 2Use fine-grained sandpaper to lightly sand and remove the bamboo’s natural waxy layer. All bamboo has this layer, and it will prevent the bamboo fibers from accepting the stain. Pay particular attention to the rough areas of the bamboo that may be difficult to get to. If you leave any of the waxy layer, the bamboo will accept stain in some areas, but not in others. This will give the bamboo a mottled look.

    • Be aware that sanding the bamboo will change the character of the bamboo since it removes the bamboo’s natural sheen and reduces the nodes.
    • If the bamboo you desire to stain has been left out in the weather for several months, it may have turned a light gray color. Bamboo that has been weathered has lost its tough, waxy outer layer and will readily take a stain, varnish, or paint.
  3. Image titled Stain Bamboo Step 3
    Protect your work area with newspapers and your hands with rubber gloves.
  4. Image titled Stain Bamboo Step 4
    Use circular motions with a sponge or rag to stain the bamboo. Pay attention to the node areas.

    • If you find that the bamboo is not taking the stain, wipe off the extra stain with a rag and allow the area to dry. Try re-sanding the area and then re-stain.
  5. Image titled Stain Bamboo Step 5Allow the stain to dry the specific number of hours recommended by the manufacturer. Add several coats as needed to get the desired color.
  6. Image titled Stain Bamboo Step 6
    Finish with a sealant that will bring back the shine and prevent the bamboo from drying out and becoming brittle.
    Heat-Treating Bamboo as a Color-Changing Option
  1. Image titled Stain Bamboo Step 7
    Treat bamboo with heat to give it a darker look like fresh coffee.
  2. Image titled Stain Bamboo Step 8
    Drill holes at various spots down the length of the bamboo.
  3. Image titled Stain Bamboo Step 9
    Toast the bamboo with a handheld torch. Gently move the torch back and forth down the length of the bamboo until the desired color is reached.

    • Work in 6-inch sections, and turn the bamboo as needed. Work all the way around before moving on.
    • Finish with a wax paste to add shine to the bamboo and preserve it.
  4. Image titled Stain Bamboo Intro
    Finished.
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    EditTips

    • Use high-gloss paint if painting bamboo to give it a natural, glossy shine.
    • Heat-treating bamboo, but not browning it, can be useful in killing any insects or eggs within the bamboo. It will also remove the starch, which attracts detrimental insects and gives bamboo a natural, glossy sheen. Observe the bamboo as you heat it, and when an oily residue rises to the surface, gently wipe it off with a rag. Do not use the same section of the rag twice or you will put oil back onto the bamboo. Overlap sections when heating for best results.
    • If you are using bamboo outdoors, remember to seal all ends of the bamboo and keep it off the ground or it will rot.