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Can Bamboo Flooring Be Refinished?

Photo collage of different bamboo flooring.

Yes, bamboo floors can be refinished. I can’t say if I ever walked on a bamboo floor; I might not have known it was bamboo. As you can see, it looks like any other hardwood floor.

It’s even made into wide planks, which is the only kind of hardwood flooring for me. Bamboo flooring has dozens of benefits for everyone, from the baby crawling on it to the dog snoozing on it. So why is it refinished?

Bamboo Is Classified As A Grass. Why Is It Being Used As Floor Planks?

Modern interior design of living room with brown wooden sofa, bambo bookstand, glassy vase with flowers and elegant accessories.

People are more accustomed to seeing bamboo being shoved into the mouths of roly-poly little bears hanging off of tree branches. What people aren’t aware of is the sheer strength of bamboo. It makes flooring planks that stand up exceedingly well in high-traffic areas like hallways and the kitchen.

That high traffic, though, scratches bamboo floors, so they’ll need refinishing.

Is All Bamboo The Same? Is A Specific Type Of Bamboo Processed Into Floor Planks?

There are three types of bamboo floors, all of them made from stalks. It’s the way they’re processed that gives you bamboo floor planks:

  • Horizontal – The stalks are formed into planks and glued there horizontally. This is what most people picture when they think of bamboo floor planks.
  • Vertical – This plank, too, is made of thin strips of glued-together bamboo. They’re just arranged vertically instead of horizontally. They look more streamlined, like modern hardwood floors.
  • Strand-Woven –This flooring plank isn’t made from strips of bamboo. It’s made from bamboo that’s been shredded and then mixed with binders. Pressure and heat make these flooring planks just about indestructible, so you won’t have to refinish it as often. Or maybe at all. 

There Are Several Types Of Types Of Bamboo Flooring. Confused? I Don’t Blame You

Hardwood flooring from eco friendly bamboo with hand scrapped finish.

There’s the engineered floor vs the natural wood floor. Engineered floors consist of layers. There really is real hardwood in there somewhere, but it’s down the road a ways.

The other layers make the plank last for years, resist scratching or dents, resist pests, and a dozen other things.  The trouble with engineered floors is that they can only be refinished if the veneer layer measures two millimeters. A veneer not that thick can’t be refinished at all, so checking with a professional would be a good idea before you start refinishing bamboo floors.

You could always buy pre-finished bamboo flooring. This would only need resurfacing, which is another world away from refinishing.

Here’s Another Type Of Types Of Bamboo Floor, Carbonized vs Non-Carbonized. Wait. What?

Close up of a sander power tool for DIY on wooden parquet floor.

No, you aren’t getting coal for flooring. Carbonization is what happens to bamboo when heat is applied. It makes the planks darker.

I had no idea there were sugars in the wood, but apparently, the carbonization process caramelizes the sugars, darkening the wood. The snag to that is that the wood is softer, which makes it great for refinishing, but maybe not for longevity. Especially if the dog’s nails try to stop him from rounding corners.

Non-carbonized bamboo flooring, on the other hand, is smoked, not caramelized. This makes the planks suitable for refinishing as well as re-staining. Carbonized planks can’t be re-stained. 

Okay, I’ve Got This. What Will I Need To Refinish My Bamboo Flooring?

Modern clean contemporary yellow kitchen, island and wooden dining table with chairs, bamboo and potted plants.

Whoa, there, slow down. You’ll need information before you plug in a sander. Refinishing a hardwood floor begins with knowing the hardness or softness of the wood on the Janka Hardness Scale.

This scale is the first place to go for furniture makers, flooring makers, and anyone else who works with wood and their products. The higher the Janka rating, the harder the wood.  It’s about impressing wood with a tiny steel ball.

If the wood is hard enough, the steel ball won’t penetrate it either at all, shallowly, or very deeply. The harder the wood floor planks, the less wear, and tear, scratching, and denting. Bamboo rates between 1,300 to 1,400 on the Janka scale, which is harder than oak planks. That makes bamboo planks much harder to refinish than your basic maple planks. 

Homeowners who do a lot of repairs and renovations themselves do save a lot of money by skipping the professionals. However, mess-ups can cost more money than they save DIY-ing. In the case of bamboo floor refinishing, I’d leave it to the pros.

Why Would I Need To Refinish My Bamboo Floors? How Long Do They Last?

Female feet on wooden floor.

Most homeowners and those building new houses love bamboo floors because many manufacturers give them a lifetime warranty. Only in cases of more than normal wear and tear would these homeowners need to refinish their bamboo floors. If the floors are well maintained, then they should last upwards of 25 years.

Okay, You Have My Attention. What Are Some Reasons I Would Buy Bamboo Flooring? (And The Bear’s Kind Of Cute, Too)

Bamboo is sustainable with five to six harvest cycles in its lifetime. For example, bamboo grows at the rate of an inch and a half in one hour or three feet per day. Trees take years. Other good things about bamboo include:

  • Maintenance is a snap – Just dust mop it or vacuum it if you prefer, and damp mop it every now and then, and your bamboo floor should look great.
  • Durable – Strand woven bamboo planks are super-durable. It’s dent-resistant, scratch-resistant, and performs better than laminate or vinyl. 
  • Pest-resistant – Bamboo doesn’t attract dust and pollen, so asthmatics love it. What chemicals there are can’t be digested by termites. That’s pretty much it, so order that bamboo floor with confidence.
  •  Availability – It wasn’t long ago that “green” building materials were scarce and consequently more expensive. No more. Bamboo is a very popular building material. Its availability and affordability have blossomed in recent years.
  • Style – There are dozens of ways to age or weather wood for flooring. I, personally, enjoy looking at hand-scraped planks. Bamboo can sustain any kind of styling, and there are so many that each room in your house can boast its own bamboo look.
  • Moisture resistant – If your kids run around the house with their sippy cups in their hands, something’s going to spill. Sometimes it’s a complete accident, such as tripping over the dog or (ouch) stepping on a Lego. No worries; bamboo flooring is impervious to moisture. Kitchens and bathrooms are the perfect places for bamboo floors.
  • Allergen-free – Bamboo planks don’t collect dust and/or allergens like regular hardwood floors or carpets. Go ahead and work out on your bamboo floor. Let the baby crawl around on it. The dog will be good lying on it.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know About Refinishing Bamboo Flooring? What Are The FAQs?

How Many Times Can Bamboo Floors Be Refinished?

Solid strand woven bamboo flooring with a 9/16 thickness can be refinished up to four times. Other bamboo finishes not so much. We’d recommend it once or twice, and that’s it.

Can Bamboo Planks Be Sanded Down And Stained?

Absolutely. Bamboo is just like normal wood that is sanded down to remove the faded or scratched finish, re-stained, and a coat of polyurethane on top of that to seal it, and your bamboo planks should look as good as new.

What’s A Good Finish For Bamboo Flooring?

A satin-matte lacquer adds a shine to the floor. The color and style of the planks are preserved, and the shine adds a beautiful touch to the floor.

Can Discolored Bamboo Flooring Be Fixed?

No biggie. Take cigar or cigarette ash and mix with a bit of mayo. Rub the mixture with the grain along the discoloration. Keep rubbing until the discoloration is gone.

Can I Refinish My Engineered Bamboo Flooring?

No. The wear layer on the engineered bamboo flooring is only about an inch thick. Once it’s degraded, there’s not a lot to sand down before refinishing. The only thing to do is replace the floor.

What Is The Difference Between Solid Strand Woven Bamboo And Engineered Bamboo?

Solid woven bamboo is composed of shredded bamboo fibers and glue. It’s formed into planks for flooring. Engineered bamboo consists of a plywood or fiberboard backing, a layer of actual bamboo, a wear layer, and a layer of polyurethane finishing. Solid woven is actual bamboo, and engineered is just a little bamboo.

Finished Or Refinished, What About Bamboo Flooring And Home Value?

Bamboo has the edge over other hardwoods, including water resistance, pest resistance (what buyer wants termites? They don’t like bamboo,) long life span, and more. These aspects of bamboo flooring are of major importance to buyers, so a home with bamboo floors will sell before its neighbors’ homes will.

When I’m Refinishing My Bamboo Floors, Can I Re-stain Over The Polyurethane?

Yes. Stain soaks into the pores of hardwood. For a bamboo plank, you’ll need a gel stain. It makes a film over the polyurethane and doesn’t get anywhere near the bamboo.

Can A New Coat Of Polyurethane Be Applied Over Old Polyurethane?

Sure. You’ll have to follow the proper steps to refinish the flooring by sanding the surface using a floor buffer or by doing it by hand with 120 to 150 grit sandpaper.

What Happens If I Wait Too Long Between Coats Of Polyurethane?

If you’re going to use multiple coats of polyurethane, it takes two hours for the layers to bond. If you wait longer than that, it will take 24 hours for the layers to get hard enough to sand to form a bond.