How to Refinish Bamboo Flooring Like a Pro!

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refinish bamboo flooring

Bamboo is an incredibly unique and charming flooring material that has a one-of-a-kind look. 

Its deep grain and natural patina makes it a great choice if you want something different. Your home can benefit greatly from its richness and durability. 

Because of its thin makeup and grain structure, bamboo can usually only be refinished once. 

That’s why we have put together a complete guide to refinishing bamboo flooring. By using this step-by-step process, you can make sure you do the job right the first time. 

Following this guide will help you get the most out of your bamboo flooring. Getting it to where you want it is relatively simple as long as you take care to do it properly. 

Refinishing Bamboo Flooring: Basic Idea

Refinishing bamboo flooring isn’t complicated, but it must be done correctly. 

Follow these steps to get it right the first time through and avoid mistakes: 

  • Identify the type 
  • Sand the finish
  • Apply a stain 
  • Add a clear coat

How is Bamboo Flooring Different From Other Hardwood Flooring?

bamboo flooring different from other

One of the benefits of bamboo flooring is that it is incredibly unique. Having this type of floor will set your home apart and certainly be a conversation piece. 

One of the reasons bamboo is so different is the fact that it is not technically a wood. Bamboo is a type of grass, and because of this, it has a particular grain structure. 

The grain of bamboo is very long and fibrous, causing beautiful patterns and texture. However, it is also very thin and usually doesn’t have a lot of density. 

This is why bamboo can only be refinished one time. The thinness of the structure makes it so sanding will quickly eat through to the bottom. 

Identify the Type of Bamboo

There are a few different types of bamboo flooring. Knowing which one you have will determine the direction that you should be sanding when you refinish. 

Horizontal bamboo is made of stalks that are glued horizontally. These stalks form the planks and make up the structure of the flooring.

Vertical bamboo uses the same principle, but the stalks are shorter and glued together vertically. 

Strand-woven bamboo is actually made of shredded stalks that have been broken down and glued together. This type will not necessarily have a grain to follow and has a more chaotic pattern. 

The most common type of bamboo flooring is horizontal. Odds are, this is the type you have, so this will be the direction you want to sand in. 

Sand off the Current Finish 

Before you get started, clear the room of any furniture and don a mask and eye protection. Older bamboo flooring sometimes contains formaldehyde, which can be hazardous to your lungs and eyes. 

Sand off the current finish with an orbital sander in strokes along the grain. 

If the dust coming off the floor is dark in color, this means you are sanding too hard. This could result in sanding all the way to the bottom. 

Make sure that the dust coming off has a light color and that you are not applying too much pressure. 

Thoroughly clean up all the dust that comes off the floor. Containing it within the room you are working in is incredibly important due to the potentially hazardous nature of the dust. 

Apply Stain

apply stain

Test any stain you want to use on a small patch of the flooring to make sure it doesn’t discolor or damage it. 

Apply the stain with a brush or rag, depending on the texture you are looking for. 

If you have vertical bamboo flooring, a rag is recommended. This will ensure that you get the stain down into the pores of the wood.

Apply at least two coats of stain with 1-2 hours in between coats. Let it dry completely before you move on to the top coat step. 

Apply a Polyurethane Top Coat

A polyurethane top coat will help protect the relatively fragile bamboo flooring. It will also give it a shine that brings out some of the natural beauty of the wood. 

Apply the polyurethane using a brush or roller. Use long, even strokes along the grain. 

If you have vertical bamboo, work in sections of several planks to apply the top coat. 

Allow the polyurethane to dry for 1-2 hours between coats and apply at least two coats. The more you add, the more protected the floor will be from scuffs and scratches. 

Let the top coat cure completely for at least 48 hours before you move furniture back or walk on the floor.  


faq refinish bamboo flooring

  • How long do bamboo floors last?

If properly cared for, a bamboo floor can last up to 25 years. 

Even though bamboo is technically a grass, it is incredibly hard. This offers protection from scratches and gouges with normal use. 

  • Is vinegar safe for bamboo floors?

Vinegar should never be used on bamboo floors.

Any kind of corrosive solution can discolor bamboo relatively quickly. This is due to the fibrous nature of the wood, so it’s best to avoid any abrasive cleaner. 

  • Why does my bamboo floor look dull?

If water gets underneath bamboo, it can dull the color and make it fade. 

If your bamboo has suddenly started looking dull, check to make sure it is dry. It is possible that some moisture has gotten underneath the planks. 


Bamboo is a great material for flooring due to its beautiful color and deep texture. 

By refinishing your bamboo floor, you can rejuvenate your home and give it an added boost. By following our step-by-step guide, you will get the job done the first time and avoid any damage. 

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Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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