Everyone has a different opinion about whether you can sand and refinish bamboo flooring or not. Though most types of bamboo are harder or as hard as hardwood flooring. Normal vertical and horizontal bamboo flooring is about as hard as red oak, and strand bamboo is even harder than ipe, the hardest hardwood available on the market.
As bamboo floors are durable enough, there is little to no danger of wearing and tearing on the bamboo floor. However, the problem arises due to the adhesives used in the manufacturing process and the nature of bamboo.
Bamboo floors can be sanded to remove any scratches, dents, worn areas, and old finish, just like other normal wood floors. However, sanding some brands of bamboo floorings can make fine splinters that, sometimes, don’t come off even after refinishing the floor. Sometimes, the toxic chemicals in the adhesive used to bind the bamboo fibers can release volatile organic compounds.
Only a few bamboo flooring distributors raised these concerns. Whereas most professionals recommend using the same refinishing techniques for hardwood floors.
Bamboo flooring hasn’t been around long enough for professionals to form a consensus about refinishing it. The prospects of achieving good results are great with conventional hardwood refinishing techniques, especially if it’s a strand bamboo floor.
Applying a new finish can bring out the flooring’s color and texture, giving it a brand new look. A new finish also gives it some protection. But, before that, let’s answer some questions about bamboo flooring and refinishing.
Can You Refinish Bamboo Flooring?
Bamboo flooring is quite similar to wood flooring in terms of look, durability, and function. You can even create those timeless wood floor patterns like herringbone parquet on your bamboo floor. So yes, you can refinish bamboo flooring just like refinishing hardwood flooring.
However, there are various different types of bamboo flooring, and you need a different kind of refinishing for each type.
Types of Bamboo Flooring
All bamboo floorings are made from bamboo stalks, but these different types are created by the method used to construct them.
All these types have their own features and qualities; none are any worse or better than the other. Some best hardwood floor brands make ultra-high-density bamboo floors that give an extra bang for your buck.
Vertical Bamboo Flooring
Vertical bamboo flooring is made of thin strips of bamboo glued together vertically. This type of flooring has more lines because it is glued together. It features a more streamlined and modern look.
Horizontal Bamboo Flooring
Horizontal bamboo flooring is the most popular bamboo flooring. When you say bamboo flooring, horizontal bamboo flooring is what you are probably picturing this type. It is made of bamboo stalks glued together horizontally to create a plank.
Strand-Woven Bamboo Flooring
Strand-woven bamboo is made from bamboo stalks that have been shredded into fibers and then glued together with adhesives. This mixture is then pressed together into blocks with heat and pressure.
This type of bamboo flooring is super durable due to the process used to prepare it. Strand-woven bamboo flooring is twice as durable as ash flooring.
Strand-woven bamboo flooring does not require refinishing much as other types because it is dent and scratch-resistant. But this also makes it harder to sand it down.
Carbonized or Non-Carbonized Bamboo Flooring
When you plan on refinishing your bamboo flooring, you should consider if it’s carbonized or non-carbonized bamboo flooring.
Carbonized bamboo flooring is processed, which gives it a darker amber color. Whereas non-carbonized bamboo is natural and lighter in color, disguises scratches and dents.
One of the downsides of carbonized bamboo is that it is more susceptible to dents. Therefore, if you want your floor to be scratch-proof, you would be better off with a non-carbonized one.
Both these floorings have pretty much the same kind of applications except for tiny differences in hardness, appearance, and price.
Refinishing Carbonized Flooring
Carbonized bamboo flooring is softer and more susceptible to scratches than non-carbonized bamboo, making it easier to refinish.
Carbonized bamboo has the same color throughout the plank, which means that if you sand and refinish it, it will not lighten its color.
But some people want a hardwood floor that is dark in hue and super durable. In that case, laminate or vinyl plank flooring is a good option for you.
Engineered or Solid Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo floorings are available in both engineered and solid options, just like hardwood. Solid bamboo planks are made entirely of bamboo, whereas engineered planks have a bamboo veneer attached to fiberboard or plywood core.
Engineered bamboo flooring is one of the easiest floorings to install as they come in click-together flooring. But you can refinish it only if the veneer is thick enough.
Refinishing Engineered Bamboo Flooring
To refinish an engineered bamboo flooring, the veneer has to be at least 2 mm thick. With a 2mm thick wear layer, you might be able to refinish it only once.
If the veneer layer is not that thick, you may be unable to refinish it. This is one of the major disadvantages of engineered wood floors.
If refinishing an engineered bamboo flooring is your concern, you can talk to a specialist to find out the details about some particular engineered bamboo flooring.
Moreover, buying prefinished bamboo flooring can make refinishing less of a problem. Some of the best-engineered hardwood floor brands have UV-curved finishes with super durable aluminum oxide. If you install such floors, you will only need a simple resurfacing once in a while if the need arises.
Scratches on Bamboo Floors
Accidents leading to scratches on your floor can happen on any type of flooring. However, they are more common on carbonized bamboo floors as they are soft. But overall, all types of bamboo floors are very durable, and you might never feel the need to refinish your bamboo flooring.
You should remember that the click-together floating floors have a big disadvantage of wearing out a bit too quickly and will require refinishing more often.
Staining Bamboo Flooring
Staining bamboo flooring is done similarly to staining other hardwood floors. You can change the original color of your bamboo flooring to any color you want with staining.
Whether you want ebony flooring with its dark and moody look or the look of hickory flooring without having to deal with the actual hickory flooring, you can stain your bamboo flooring to your liking.
However, it should give you a heads up for staining strand-woven bamboo flooring. It is the most difficult type of bamboo flooring to stain. You might have to avoid staining strand-woven bamboo flooring altogether. On the other hand, horizontal and vertical bamboo floors are fairly easier to stain.
Another thing to note while staining your bamboo floor is that you should always perform a test before staining the entire floor. This test will allow you to see if you like the look or want to change the color.
Why Should You Refinish Bamboo Flooring?
Bamboo flooring can mimic other types of flooring with a simple refinishing, which makes it one of the most preferred choices for homeowners. You can refinish a bamboo floor to look like any type of hardwood floor you like.
Moreover, they are highly durable, making them a great alternative for resilient floors like vinyl plank floors.
You can simply restore the finish without sanding if your bamboo floor has scratches and mild wear on the high-traffic areas. In this case, you just scuff up the old finish using a floor buffer and 120- and then 150- grit sanding paper, and then apply two coats of the new finish.
This process will not expose the bamboo, so it will not release volatile organic compounds or create splinters.
Why Refinishing Bamboo Floors May Not Be a Good Idea?
In addition to a thin wear layer and cheap finish, there are other reasons you might not want to refinish the bamboo floor.
Warranty May Get Void
Before you start refinishing your bamboo floor, read the manufacturer’s instructions and fine print on the warranty for reasons why your warranty can get voided. Some brands void your warranty if you refinish your bamboo floors.
Already Refinished or Very Thin Wear Layer
Refinishing bamboo floors often thins down the wear layer too much. Most brands mention the thickness of their products on the packaging. This thickness determines how often you can refinish your floor.
The general rule of thumb is that you should not refinish the bamboo floor if the thickness of the veneer is less than 2 millimeters, or you may end up cracking your bamboo planks.
Address All the Issues With Planks
If your bamboo floors have any issues like cracks, swell, warps, shrunk, etc., you should address these issues first before refinishing the floors.
Ensure your bamboo floor is in perfect condition to get the best results from refinishing it.
To Hire or Not to Hire a Professional; That is the Question
If you have zero experience working with bamboo floors, I would suggest you hire a professional to do the job.
Refinishing bamboo flooring is harder than refinishing softer woods like pine or Douglas fir. The softness of wood makes it easier to refinish. So, if you have a bamboo floor, get a professional to do this job.
How to Refinish Bamboo Flooring
Things You Need to Refinish Bamboo Flooring
- Plastic Sheeting
- Flooring Edger
- Polyurethane Floor Finish
- Polyurethane Sealer
- Flooring Drum Sander
- 60-, 80- and 100-Grit Sandpaper
- Pad Sander
- Tack Cloth
- Paint Pad or Floor-Finish Applicator
- 120- Grit Sanding Screen
- Floor Buffer
Prep Your Space
Isolate the room you are working from the rest of the house to prevent the dust from getting in and out of that room. Use plastic sheeting to cover the doors and air intake vents, and turn off the central air system for a couple of days after refinishing the floor.
Sanding the floor creates more dust which can cause breathing problems. So, make sure you wear protective wear such as a respirator and have proper ventilation in the room throughout the sanding process. Also, have a vacuum on standby to suck in dust from time to time.
Check the Wear Layer
The top layer of your bamboo flooring should be thick enough to remain intact, especially if you have an engineered bamboo floor.
The flooring that has never been refinished will have a thick-enough layer to sand. However, if it has been sanded before, you can check the cross-section of the flooring by removing a door threshold.
The finish must be at least 2 millimeters thick to sand it.
Before you start sanding the floor, you will have to remove all the baseboards in the room.
Then put a 60-grit paper in the flooring drum sander and sand the floor at a slight angle or 7 – 15 degrees to the bamboo grain. This angle reduces the chance of raising splinters and removes any swelling smoothening the floor.
To sand, the edges, use the same 60- grit paper with a flooring edger.
Vacuum the floor once you are done sanding.
You have to make two more finish passes; one with 80 and the last with 100 grit paper on the drum sander and edger. These passes will remove the scratches and prepare your floor for finishing.
Follow each drum sander pass by sanding the edges with the edger installed with the same grit paper.
Run the drum sander straight on the grain without any angle to level and smoothen the floor.
Vacuum clean the floor after each pass.
Remove Splinters and Clean
Once you have made the final pass, vacuum cleans the floor thoroughly and wipe it with a tack cloth.
Look for splinters on the wood when you are wiping it. If you find any splinted area, sand it down with a pad sander and 100-grit paper.
Then wait for a few minutes and let the floor dry after cleaning.
Fill in Scratches
Most of the scratches will be smoothened out with sanding. But if there are deep gouges or broken edges, you must fill those areas with a wood filler.
Once you have sanded the floor and filled up the scratches, it is time to apply the stain. If you are applying a different stain from the one you applied before, make sure you test it on a small area before applying it on the entire floor.
You can apply the stain with a paintbrush or rag and wipe it on. Apply two coats of stain and wait for a few hours in between the two coats to let it dry.
Most floor finishings are water-based polyurethane, and the sealer, which provides a smooth undercoat, is just a high-solid finish material.
First, apply a coat of sealer with a floor-finish applicator or paint pad. Then let it sit to dry on the surface of the floor and then sand it with 120-grit sandpaper in a floor buffer.
Then, apply the first coat of finish in the same way and sand it with the buffer. Then apply the second coat of finish and buffer it with the same grit paper.
How Much Does Refinishing Bamboo Flooring Cost?
The cost of refinishing bamboo floors depends on various factors such as location, room size, etc. It ranges from $2 to $5 per square foot, depending on which products you choose and whether you hire a professional or not.
Also, the rising inflation will be a big factor in determining how much it will cost to refinish your bamboo floor.
One clear thing is that refinishing costs less than installing new engineered hardwood floors. Moreover, you may need to refinish your bamboo flooring only once in your lifetime, which puts it in perspective.
How to Clean and Maintain Bamboo Floors?
There are several things you can do to make your bamboo floors last longer, such as:
- Keeping your floors clear of dirt and dust reduces the risk of scratches. Sweeping and mopping bamboo floors weekly will protect the floor and increase its life.
- Clean up spills as soon as it occurs. Bamboo and other types of wood cannot deal with sitting moisture. Water gets absorbed into the floor and causes damage.
- Generally, you can use any cleaning product that you will use on other types of hardwood floors, but still, make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions on the product before using it.
- Don’t worry about refusing your bamboo flooring because you will probably never need it.