Painting Bamboo Furniture: 13 Steps to Doing It Right


Over time, furniture of any material can begin to lose the vibrant color it once had, so it is no surprise that many bamboo furniture owners look to painting to revive that former vibrant appearance. As to what type of paint to use on bamboo furniture, it can vary, as well as how to paint it. 

How do you paint bamboo furniture? Painting bamboo furniture is a lot simpler than one might think. Painting bamboo furniture is very similar to painting any other furniture material. The type of paint best fit for bamboo furniture is spray paint.

You don’t need to be a professional painter or furniture guru to paint bamboo furniture properly; painting bamboo furniture is an easy DIY project fit for all levels of experience. With these 13 easy-to-follow steps, your bamboo furniture looks good as new!

  1. Remove any cushions and other unnecessary items from the furniture
  2. Sand the surface of the bamboo
  3. Brush and clean any residue from the surface of the bamboo
  4. Clean the bamboo thoroughly once more
  5. Place the piece of furniture over a piece of tarp
  6. Spray the furniture with a primer
  7. Sand the surface of the bamboo again
  8. Wipe any extra residue from the furniture
  9. Choose which paint you will use to paint the furniture
  10. Apply a thin coat of paint to the surface of the bamboo furniture
  11. Allow the paint to dry
  12. Apply an additional coat to the furniture 
  13. Place any cushions or other accents on the furniture

Can Bamboo Furniture Be Painted?

You can paint bamboo furniture; however, spray paint is the easiest way. I highly recommend using spray paint to save you both time and money. Painting traditionally, such as with furniture paint and a brush, is possible but has downsides. 

With oil-based paint or acrylic paint specifically made for furniture, you have to put more effort towards getting every nook and cranny to get an even finish. The same downside goes with staining as well. 

Staining requires using an oil-based paintbrush to apply an even coat. As with any painting, the more you apply, the darker the color will be each time you apply another coat. 

“The natural color of bamboo is similar to that of beech wood. Darker shades can be obtained through staining.”

Source: Bamboo Furniture Facts That Make You Want to Have It

Either of the suggested forms of painting is acceptable, but I recommend using spray paint for the best results. Spray painting is also faster than staining or painting with a brush, both in painting and drying. 

“Color is the quickest and prettiest way to gussy up furniture, and spray paint is the best way to achieve a smooth, even finish on bamboo, cane, and rattan.”

Source: Homes To Love

Using spray paint will allow an even finish and doesn’t force you to maneuver your paintbrush to get every crack or hard-to-reach space. On top of that, spray painting last much longer than that furniture painting, further delaying the next time you have to touch up your furniture. 

1. Remove Any Cushions and Other Unnecessary Items from The Furniture

Remove Any Cushions

Painting your bamboo furniture will require all the bamboo to be exposed for an even finish. Doing so requires all cushions, upholstery, and any extra parts or items to be removed before painting. Often times there are also screws and fasteners holding down cushions and extra parts of the furniture in place.

If you’re painting a desk, dresser, or similar furniture with removable bamboo parts such as drawers or handles, remove them before painting. If the drawers or handles are also bamboo, set them aside to be painted.

The cushions, upholstery, and extra parts should also be set aside in a dry area, away from the paint. Additionally, any metal handles or material that is attached to the furniture but not made of bamboo material should also be removed or covered for protection from the paint.

2. Sand the Surface of The Bamboo

Because bamboo generally has an extremely smooth surface, sanding is required for the paint to stick to it. Sanding it will create a rough exterior that can easily hold the paint. Regardless of the type of paint being used, sanding is required. Using sandpaper, either 120 or 150-grit, roughens up the surface of the bamboo.

Sand the Surface of The Bamboo

Use a small square of sandpaper and apply slight pressure to the surface of the bamboo, moving it along all edges until you’ve done the whole exterior. 

Bamboo, as pretty and smooth as it is, is easily brittle, so be careful not to apply too much pressure so as not to damage or ruin its surface of it. Too much pressure applied can crack the surface and cause splinters. You don’t want that, especially if it’s an older or weaker piece of bamboo furniture. 

As you apply slight pressure to the bamboo, make circular motions with the sandpaper until the shiny exterior has been removed. If your bamboo furniture is already painted, completely strip the paint off and the shiny exterior. Once you’ve sanded the bamboo, ensure the exterior appears even and dim, free of shine. 

If you don’t see any shine to the exterior of the bamboo, that means you’ve gotten all of it off. This step is important, as the paint will not stick to the shiny exterior of the bamboo. Sandpaper is your best option for this step. An electric sander is too rough and could permanently damage the bamboo.

Furthermore, sand those pieces similarly if your furniture has removable bamboo parts, such as dressers and handles. 

3. Brush and Clean Any Residue from The Surface of The Bamboo

After you’ve completely sanded off the shiny exterior of the furniture, remove any sawdust residue from the furniture with a soft-bristle brush. Using the brush, thoroughly clean any hard-to-reach areas where the residue is most likely to stick. With every few strokes, wipe or shake the brush clean of residue, so it doesn’t build up. 

Clean Any Residue from The Surface of The Bamboo

Soft-bristle brushes are your best option for this job to remove all sawdust from the furniture gently. A hard-bristle brush is not recommended, as it can scratch the surface of the bamboo. 

4. Clean the Bamboo Thoroughly Once More

If you’ve ever sanded any piece of furniture, you know that it’s close to impossible to remove every grain of sawdust on the first try. Sanding is also a very messy job. For this reason, cleaning the furniture once more is necessary. You can do an extra round of thorough cleaning either with a soft-bristle brush or a vacuum hose. 

For the second time around, it’s important to focus specifically on the nook and crannies holding onto access sawdust. If the bamboo furniture is an artisan-crafted model or has intricate detailing such as carving or seams, it’s likely to be more prone to having hard-to-reach sawdust residue.  

If you’re using a soft-bristle brush, run it back and forth between cracks to pick up any extra sawdust. Do the same if you’re using a vacuum hose. A vacuum hose is even more helpful if it has a brush attachment that can reach into small crevasses. 

Once you’ve removed all sawdust, wipe the furniture clean using a damp microfiber cloth. As mentioned before, removing every grain of sawdust isn’t always possible, so using a microfiber cloth will help pick up any residue hiding from you.

Microfiber cloth has soft bristle-like fibers that can pick up and hold residue. Using warm water, dampen the microfiber cloth and wipe the entire furniture exterior and any extra bamboo parts. Be sure not to soak the cloth. Putting too much water on the bamboo can cause water damage. 

After you’ve wiped it the first time, re-wet it and wring it out before repeating the process of wiping the furniture down. Once you’ve wiped it down again, leave the furniture to dry until it’s no longer damp. 

Related Article: Is Bamboo Furniture Waterproof

5. Place the Piece of Furniture Over A Piece of Tarp

Once the furniture has completely finished drying, place it over a tarp or drop cloth to protect the surrounding exposed area from the paint. 

If you haven’t already, consider working in a well-ventilated outdoor area, such as a garage or in an open tent. Ventilation of any form is important and highly essential to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by the smell of the harsh chemicals in the paint. Working in a poorly ventilated area is dangerous and can cause fatal side effects.

If the tarp or drop cloth is too large, fold it however many times appropriate and place it onto the ground. Firmly set the piece of furniture in the middle afterward. Tarp and drop cloths can be purchased online or at a local hardware shop. Furthermore, if you don’t have any available, you can use cardboard also.

6. Spray or Brush the Furniture with A Primer

Before painting, wear personal protective equipment to protect yourself from the paint. This can be done by placing safety goggles and a mask over your face to keep you from breathing in the harsh chemicals in the paint. 

Safety goggles should completely cover your eyes, and the face mask should completely cover your nose and mouth. Optionally, you can wear a disposable protective suit or clothing that covers any exposed areas of your body and limbs. 

Once you’ve put on the protective gear, you can proceed with priming the furniture. Like a primer you would put on your nails before painting them with polish, furniture primer creates a suitable surface to which the paint can stick and set evenly. 

Spray or Brush the Furniture with A Primer

Priming is not required if you’re painting the furniture by staining method. However, if you’re using spray paint or furniture paint, you must apply primer first. Before you apply any paint, you must apply a primer for it to stick. Hold the can about 6 inches away from the furniture using an oil-based spray primer. 

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Shake the can to allow all primer ingredients to mix evenly. Make sure the can is upright and spray the bamboo furniture’s surface. Apply a thin coat over the furniture surface while continuously moving the can from side to side. Avoid staying in an area too long to prevent it from receiving too much primer.

If the primer doesn’t come from the spray can the first few tries, try test spraying on the piece of tarp or drop cloth to make sure that it sprays evenly. It’s most likely the spray has clogged if it’s coming out unevenly.

Once you’ve sprayed a thin layer of prime over the furniture, allow it about 30 minutes to an hour to completely dry. If you’re unsure whether the primer has completely dried, lightly touch the surface with the tip of your finger to test it out. If you pick up any primer on your finger, allow another 30 minutes for it to dry.  

If you’re applying primer with a paintbrush, the process doesn’t differ much from spray primer. Applying primer with a paintbrush takes a bit longer, about an hour or so. Dip an oil-based brush into the primer and apply a single even coat over the entire piece of bamboo furniture. Let it dry for an hour or two afterward.

7. Sand the Surface of The Bamboo Again

Sand the Surface of The Bamboo Again

If you’ve applied primer to the furniture, it’s necessary to sand it again. I know, all that cleaning up sawdust for nothing, but trust me, you’ll want to sand the primer for the best results!

All of your sendings don’t come without their benefits, though. The primer more or less prepares the bamboo for the paint and further ensures an even application once you paint it.

Using 220-grit sandpaper this time, rub a small square of sandpaper across the surface of the bamboo using small circular motions. Keep rubbing the furniture until the bamboo has a smooth texture to it.

8. Wipe Any Extra Residue from The Furniture

After completely sanding the furniture’s primed exterior, clean it with a microfiber cloth. Dampen the cloth with warm water and ring it out. Gently wipe all excess residue or sawdust from the furniture’s surface and repeat this step again. 

As previously stated, at the beginning of the process, you may also use a vacuum hose to remove residue before wiping the furniture clean. 

9. Choose Which Paint You Will Use to Paint the Furniture

Paint You Will Use to Paint the Furniture

Now that you’ve prepared the bamboo furniture, painting is easy! The fun comes in the painting process because you can unleash your creative side and choose the color of your liking. 

Going for a bright, bohemian vide? Try yellow to give your bamboo furniture the pizzazz it desires! Or similarly, if you want to go for a tropical, beachy vide, consider using white paint. 

“White is always a winner, especially for outdoor pieces, and soft, muted greys, blues, and greens are perfect for updating bent cane and bamboo.”

If you’re more concerned with the interior design aspect of painting your bamboo furniture, then the type of paint may not be as interesting as the paint’s actual color. 

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Remember the cushions and upholstery you removed from the furniture before you started painting it? Well, now it’s time to reconsider those. 

If you plan on using those same cushions and upholstery after you paint the furniture, try using a color that will match them. Or, if you’re retouching the color previously on the furniture, consider reupholstering the cushions to match it. Try darker paints for a more modern look. 

You can also choose dark mahogany or wood-inspired color to mimic the appearance of an authentic wooden finish. 

Regarding the type of paint to use, I recommended spray paint, but staining and furniture paint are also appropriate options for painting bamboo furniture. Regardless of the type of paint or stain, you’ll want to use an oil-based instead of acrylic. Don’t be deterred from using acrylic, though. 

Oil-based or enamel paint is recommended for furniture that will be used outdoors; this also applies to stains. Oil-based paints and stains are water-resistant. 

Source: Homes To Love

10. Apply A Thin Coat of Paint to The Surface of The Bamboo Furniture

Once you’ve chosen your paint, color and all, it’s time to, well . . . Paint! 

If you’re staining the furniture, apply a single coat of stain using an oil-based paintbrush to cover the entire exterior of the bamboo. If you see any excess stain running down the bamboo, gently wipe it away with a microfiber cloth. The same process applies if you’re using traditional furniture paint as well.

 Apply A Thin Coat of Paint

If you’re using spray paint, the process is similar to applying the primer mentioned in step 6. Shake the can of paint for about 10 seconds to mix up the contents evenly. 

Holding the can about 6 inches away from the furniture, remove the cap from the can and begin spraying. Ensure the can is upright and continuously move it from right to left. By doing this, you can apply the spray paint more evenly. Be sure, however, to maintain a certain distance from the furniture, i.e., 6 inches, to prevent overspraying it.  

In some cases, some primer is still visible through the first coat of paint. Don’t be worried if this happens. It won’t be visible after a few more coatings. 

11. Allow the Paint to Dry

Stain takes much longer to dry than paint, two hours! After you’ve applied one even coat of stain to the furniture, allow up to two hours before applying a second coat. 

For traditional furniture paint, allow approximately an hour to an hour and a half before applying a second coat and about 30 minutes for spray paint. 

For all three methods, lightly tap the furniture with the tip if you’re unsure whether it’s dry. If you pick up remnants of paint with your finger, give the furniture at least another 15 extra minutes to finish drying. 

12. Apply an Additional Coat to The Furniture 

If you’re staining the furniture, you may apply a second coat of stain after two hours. The more coats or layers you apply, the darker the finish of the stain will be. Once you’re happy with the tint of the stain, the hard part comes in, waiting for the stain to dry completely.

It takes about eight hours for stained bamboo to dry completely. Because staining penetrates the surface of the bamboo, unlike paint, which only lies on the surface, requires a much longer window of time to dry completely. 

After the stain has completely dried and the long, arduous 8 hours have passed, you can finish your furniture with a coat of varnish. You can apply it with the same paintbrush you used to apply the stain after washing it. 

Unfortunately, the end is not near, as you have to wait another eight hours after applying the varnish. This is the last wait, I promise. Once you can ensure the stain and varnish have dried, you can use your renewed bamboo furniture!

For my painters, apply another even coat of furniture paint or spray paint until the bamboo furniture has an even finish. Thin coats come with the best results, so try not to rush the process by applying thick, heavy coats. Instead, use two to three coats until the finish is even to your liking. 

Allow the paint to dry between each coat to allow the bamboo furniture to have a consistent color. For furniture and spray paint, give the furniture at least an hour or two to completely finish drying before using it. 

13. Place Any Cushions or Other Accents on The Furniture

Whew! All that hard work has paid off, and now you can decorate your furniture with all the cushions, upholstery, and accents you like. After completely drying the bamboo furniture, you can place any accents and removable parts where needed. 

Place Any Cushions

If you removed any screws, handles, or similar items from the bamboo furniture, be sure to reattach those. You don’t want your furniture falling apart after all that hard work! 

Additional Tips and Tricks

Not every process applies equally to everyone, so it’s always important to offer alternative ideas and steps just in case. Here are a few tips and tricks for getting the best results after painting your bamboo furniture. 

If using sandpaper is not your preferred method of clearing the exterior of the bamboo furniture before painting it, you can use the alternative method of scraping and scrubbing. For scraping, use a putty knife, and for scrubbing, use a wire brush. These alternatives may not provide as much of an even finish as sandpaper, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work.

Scraping with a putty knife is especially useful for bamboo furniture that has flaking or peeling paint on the surface. You can even use more than one of these methods interchangeably. Try scraping all paint off and follow that up with sandpaper for an even finish.

For the bamboo furniture owners who are not very keen on sawdust left from all the sandpaper, you can skip the thorough dusting that follows that tedious step. Instead of removing the sawdust or any residue with a brush or vacuum hose, try using a water-based solution instead. 

Hunker, an online platform specializing in home design, DIY ideas, and more, suggests using a solution of water and trisodium phosphate.

“Mix a ½ cup of trisodium phosphate solution per gallon of water. TSP is a strong detergent that removes surface dirt, grime, and residual oil that interferes with paint adhesion.”

Source: Hunker

Following this method may allow you to get rid of any residue on those hard-to-reach areas of bamboo furniture. The chemical foundation of the solution will also help remove any extra paint and varnish. 

If you need ideas or simply looking for inspiration, visit this link featuring painted bamboo furniture on Pinterest here

Alex

Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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