Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Safely Sand your Bamboo Floor

With many more people opting for sustainable wood flooring such as bamboo it follows that a large percentage of eco-aware souls will wish to attempt sanding their own floors at some point. Certificated bamboo comes into UK pre-finished (already varnished and wood stained) ready for installation but, like any other type of real wood, bamboo will require Wood Floor Refurbishment through time to bring back the shine and remove the inevitable marks and scratches caused by wear and tear.

So it’s good to know that in the main sustainable woods such as bamboo can be refinished in a similar way to other hardwoods, with just one or two minor adjustments to the process.

What to do

Begin by taking everything you can out of the room. This includes skirting boards, door frames and dado rails if possible. If you are unable to remove any of these then carefully tape around them to protect from the sanding process and the new finishing product. Carefully seal up any internal doors that you don’t need to use to keep residual dust out of the rest of the house.

Safety First! Always protect yourself properly by wearing a dust mask and eye protectors throughout the entire process.

It is likely that your bamboo floor has been installed with a baseboard lying over the boards and is designed to cover any planks that do not meet the wall edge squarely. This occurrence is normal, as no room is completely aligned and the older the house the more this proves to be true. The use of a baseboard then in no way detracts from the workmanship quality of the laid floor. Bamboo delivers 50% less shrinkage than any other type of wood but any contraction that does happen will do so within 48 hours of the floor being laid. So if you are working on a refinishing you need have no worries that the wood will shrink any more.

However the baseboard will have to be carefully prised off and set aside before sanding can begin. You will be re-using the baseboard afterwards, so the delicate touch of an angel is required here!

Avoid using a drum sander on bamboo floors as you run a big risk of gouging. Instead hire a square buffing sander and move across the room drawing the machine towards yourself in steady, constant movements. Always start at a corner furthest from the door and move along the plank lengths. When you have completed around 2/3rds of the room area then change to Floor Sanding one plank at a time until the whole room has been sanded.

Now apply a hand sander to move into areas the larger machine has missed; for example flush to the skirting, around doors, fireplaces etc. Make sure you use the same grain of sandpaper you used for the main part of the room.

When you have sanded the entire room repeat the process again using the buff sander and the palm sander, but this time apply a finer grain of paper.

When your bamboo floor has received its second sanding it should feel very smooth and even to the touch and may well look lighter than before.


Like other types of real woods, bamboo is responsive to a variety of finishings including varnish, lacquer and oil products. Whichever finishing you opt for, make sure you adhere strictly to printed guidelines and apply exactly as stated. Your room should always be well ventilated during the finishing process.

Apply finishing on to small areas at a time with a dry cloth. Successful finishing means less is more so never apply finishing in large areas and avoid causing puddles as this can warp the wood. Allow the floor a good 24 hours to dry before applying the second and final finishing coat.

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