Is Bamboo Furniture Waterproof? Read This for Maximum Care.


Bamboo is a strong and durable material for making furniture, but a lot of people wonder if their bamboo furniture is waterproof. Bamboo furniture is often used to make outdoor furniture, but you do not want to put your furniture outside if it is not waterproof.

Is bamboo furniture waterproof? No, bamboo furniture is not usually waterproof, even if it is made for the outdoors. It is best to waterproof bamboo furniture yourself after purchasing. 

Bamboo furniture is an eco-friendly and stylish option for furnishing your home. Bamboo does not shrink or expand with changes in the atmosphere, so bamboo if a popular choice for outdoor furniture because it can withstand changes between humid and dry air as well as changes in temperature. Unfortunately, bamboo furniture is not typically waterproof when you buy it from the store.

Is Bamboo Furniture Waterproof?

Bamboo has a natural water-resistant silica layer on it that protects it, but it is not waterproof. The water-resistant layer can wear down over time and usually ends up destroyed by the time bamboo is sold as a part of a completed piece of furniture. 

Furthermore, most bamboo furniture is not treated to make it waterproof before it is sold. Therefore, when bamboo becomes too wet due to prolonged exposure to high humidity or heavy rain, it swells, and the bamboo fibers weaken. This weakening can lead to moisture stains, or worse, splintering and breaking.

It is possible to make your bamboo furniture waterproof with a little work and this is highly recommended if you want to bring your bamboo furniture outside.

Does Bamboo Furniture Last Outside?

A lot of bamboo furniture is not recommended for outdoor use, but bamboo furniture can be used outdoors with a little bit of extra work. Even bamboo furniture that is made for the outdoors should undergo waterproofing to ensure it is protected and holds up over time.

Generally, bamboo furniture is fine outside because bamboo does not swell or shrink in response to varying temperatures, but if your bamboo furniture remains outside permanently, it can be exposed to excessive amounts of moisture and intense sunlight that can damage your bamboo furniture over time.

First, you should choose the location of your outdoor bamboo furniture carefully. Pick a spot that does not get damp or wet often, but the spot should also be shady and away from direct sunlight because both excessive moisture and direct sun can damage bamboo. A covered porch or screen-in porch are two great options.

You also need to check outdoor furniture for mold on a regular basis. About once a month, you should look for traces of mold on the furniture piece and then remove any you find. You can remove mold by rubbing the affected area with lemon oil and then drying the area with a soft cloth.

You should also bring your bamboo furniture indoors or cover it with a well-fitting waterproof cover like this to protect it during the winter. 

The best thing you can do to protect your outdoor bamboo furniture is to cover it in an outdoor sealant to waterproof it before you place it outside.

How Do You Waterproof Bamboo Furniture?

  1. Before you waterproof your furniture, you need to clean your furniture. Use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to dust your furniture. 
  2. Take a soft cloth that is dampened with vinegar, soapy water, or wood furniture cleaner. Rinse the furniture with cold water. 
  3. If your furniture is a little rough and worn, gently sand it with 220-grit sandpaper. Sand with the grain to avoid damaging the bamboo. Sanding will also remove any of the natural silica layer I mentioned earlier that may remain on the furniture to prevent your sealant layer from flaking off over time. 
    • Wipe away any dust after you sand it. 
    • Do not use steel wool or sandpaper on bamboo that is not completely dry – it will cause your bamboo furniture to shred.
  4. Check your furniture for damage and repair any issues before sealing your furniture.
  5. Select and apply the sealant you want to use on your furniture:

Most of these options are applied in similar ways, but some of the applications vary. You should choose the sealant that best fits your needs and desired look. All protective sealants are highly flammable, so make sure you keep them away from extreme heat.

Tung Oil:

  • Tung oil will not give you a smooth finish because it does not fill in bamboo grain. It is a great option if you want the real feel of bamboo.
  • You should be careful when you buy tung oil. Most retail products are not pure tung oil, but you can get tung oil from refinishing supply houses.
  • Tung oil is more durable than most sealants and is easy to apply and redo, as necessary. It also protects against water stains.
  • To apply:

1. Brush it on with a natural-bristled paintbrush and then wipe it off with a soft cloth. It is that simple.

2. You can use 0000 steel wool to remove any surface issues once the furniture is completely dry.

3. Repeat steps one and two 3-6 times to get the look you desire.

4. Apply Tung oil to your bamboo furniture twice a year (beginning of spring and late summer) to keep your furniture protected. 

Clear Lacquer Sealant:

  • Clear lacquer sealant is easy to find in stores.
  • You can apply clear lacquer sealant to your bamboo furniture in multiple ways depending on what you find easiest: 

1. You can paint it on thickly with a brush

2. You can use a spray nozzle to coat your furniture in an even layer.

Oil-Based Paint:

  • Oil-based paint is a great option if you want to change the color of your bamboo furniture. It is perfect for revitalizing garage-sale furniture pieces.
  • To apply:

1. Apply two coats of paint, allowing the paint to dry completely in between coats.

2. Repaint every three to four years as necessary to maintain your bamboo furniture’s new water-protective coat.

Marine Varnish:

  • Marine varnish is great because it can be used alone or in conjunction with another method of sealing to boost the waterproofing of your bamboo furniture.
  • Marine varnish may alter the color of your furniture slightly, but not a lot.
  • To apply:

1. Apply with a brush.

2. Let dry for at least 12 hours before you use it.

Spar Urethane:

  • Spar Urethane is like polyurethane, but it is recommended for furniture made of bamboo and wicker that move a lot as they are used. Spar Urethane is more flexible than polyurethane, so it moves with the furniture as people sit on it.
  • Spar Urethane not only protects your furniture from water and moisture damage, but it also prevents your bamboo furniture from drying out and cracking.
  • To Apply:

1. Apply with a brush and let dry.

2. Reapply every two years.

Always make sure you apply your sealant either outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

How Do You Take Care of Bamboo Furniture?

Even after your bamboo furniture has been sealed to make it waterproof, your bamboo furniture still requires some care to stay clean and long-lasting.

Bamboo requires occasional deep cleaning and periodic dusting. Bamboo also needs to be polished to stay moisturized.

  1. You can dust bamboo furniture with the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner. 
  2. After dusting your furniture, you should use a soft cloth that is dampened with vinegar, soapy water, or wood furniture cleaner.
    • If the crevices of your furniture are particularly dirty, you can use a soft brush, like a toothbrush, to clean the crevices.
    • It can be helpful to lightly clean your bamboo furniture once a week or biweekly to prevent dirt buildup. 
  3. After cleaning, you should allow your bamboo furniture to dry completely. Place your furniture outside on a dry day and wipe the furniture with a soft cloth to dry it quickly and prevent damage. 
  4. If you live in a low humidity area, you should polish your furniture with linseed oil once a month to keep it from drying and cracking. 
  5. Once a year, you can apply a thin coat of liquid wax to your bamboo furniture to further protect it and bring back the shine and luster.

If you do not cover your bamboo furniture with a waterproof covering, you should store it indoors in the winter. You should continue to polish your furniture once a month with linseed oil to keep it from drying and cracking in the warm and dry interior. You should also be sure to keep your bamboo furniture away from heating vents, fireplaces, and wood stoves as these will dry out your bamboo furniture even further.

Conclusion

Whether you are using your bamboo furniture inside or outside, you still need to clean and take care of your bamboo furniture. Bamboo furniture can be great eco-friendly additions to your home that last for a long time, but you should protect your furniture by waterproofing it, dusting it frequently, and occasionally polishing it to keep the bamboo strong and shiny. 

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