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 comes as no surprise that many bamboo furniture owners look to painting for reviving that former vibrant appearance. As to what type of paint to use on bamboo furniture, it can vary as well as how to go about painting the furniture. 

How do you paint bamboo furniture? Painting bamboo furniture is actually a lot simpler than one might think. The process of painting bamboo furniture is very similar to how you would go about 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 properly paint bamboo furniture; in fact, painting bamboo furniture is an easy DIY project fit for all levels of experience. With these 13 easy to follow steps, you’ll have your bamboo furniture looking 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?

There are several ways you can go about painting bamboo furniture; however, the easiest way of painting is with spray paint. I highly recommend using spray paint to save you both time and money. Painting through the traditional way, such as with furniture paint and a brush, is possible, but it comes with its downsides. 

With painting either by use of 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 form of painting in general, 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 the processes of 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 for 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 of furniture paint, further delaying the next time you have to touch up your furniture. 

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

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 type of furniture that has removable bamboo parts such as drawers or handles, also remove them before painting. If the drawers or handles are also made of bamboo, simply 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, in general, has an extremely smooth surface, sanding it is required in order 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.

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 as not to damage or ruin the surface of it. Too much pressure applied can crack the surface and cause splinters, you definitely don’t want that, especially if it’s an older or weaker piece of bamboo furniture. 

As you’re applying 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 along with the shiny exterior. Once you’ve sanded the bamboo, make sure the exterior appears even and dim, free of any 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, if your furniture has removable bamboo parts such as dressers and handles sand those pieces as well in the same manner. 

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 brush clean any hard to reach areas where the residue is most likely to stick. With every few strokes, wipe clean or shake the brush clean of residue so that it doesn’t build-up. 

Soft-bristle brushes are your best option for this job to gently remove all sawdust from the furniture. Using 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, it’s necessary to clean the furniture once more just to be sure. 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 that might be 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 and between any cracks to pick up any extra sawdust. Do the same if you’re using a vacuum hose. Using 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. Like mentioned before, removing every single grain of sawdust isn’t always possible, so using a microfiber cloth will help to pick up any residue that is hiding from you.

Microfiber cloth has soft bristle-like fibers that are able to pick up and hold residue. Using warm water, dampen the microfiber cloth and wipe the entire exterior of the furniture as well as 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 a second time, leave the furniture to dry until it’s no longer damps to the touch. 

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

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

If you haven’t already, consider working in an outdoor area that’s well ventilated, 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 you begin painting, make sure you put on some form of 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 both your nose and your 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 forward with priming the furniture. Similar to 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 to and set evenly. 

If you’re painting the furniture by the method of staining, priming is not a required step. If you’re using spray paint or furniture paint, however, you must apply primer first. Before you apply any paint, you must apply a primer in order for it to stick. Using an oil-based spray primer, hold the can about 6 inches away from the furniture. 

Be sure to shake the can to allow all ingredients of the primer to mix evenly. Make sure the can is upright and begin spraying the surface of the bamboo furniture. Apply a thin coat over the whole surface of the furniture while moving the can from side to side in a continuous movement. Try not to stay 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 of whether or not 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 finish drying.  

If you’re applying primer with a paintbrush, the process doesn’t differ much from that of spray primer. Applying primer with a paintbrush takes a bit longer, about an hour or so. Simply 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

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 sanding doesn’t come without its 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 you’ve completely sanded the primed exterior of the furniture, wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth. Dampen the cloth with warm water and ring it out. Gently wipe all excess residue or sawdust from the surface of the furniture and repeat this step once more. 

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

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

Now that you’ve prepared the bamboo furniture for painting, here comes the easy part: painting! 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.”

Source: Homes To Love

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

Remember the cushions and upholstery you removed from the furniture before you started the process of 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 simply retouching the color that was 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. 

When it comes to 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 one instead of acrylic. Don’t be deterred from using acrylic, though. 

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

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.

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. Make sure the can is upright and move it from right to left in a continuous motion. 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 over spraying it.  

In some cases, a little bit of 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 to be exact! 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 to pass before applying a second coat, and about 30 minutes for spray paint. 

For all three methods, lightly tap the furniture with the tip of your finger if you’re unsure whether it’s dry or not. 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 the two hours have passed. 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 completely dry.

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, it requires a much longer window of time to completely dry. 

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, of course. 

The end is not near, unfortunately, as you have to wait another eight hours after applying the varnish. This is the last wait, I promise. Once you can be sure that the stain and varnish have dried, you’re free to use your renewed bamboo furniture!

For my painters, simply 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 paint 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 that you like. After the bamboo furniture has completely dried, you can place any accents and removable parts where needed. 

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

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

“Mix a solution consisting of ½ cup of trisodium phosphate per gallon of water. TSP is a strong detergent that removes surface dirt and grime as well as 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 and the chemical foundation of the solution will also help to remove any extra paint and varnish as well. 

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

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