Bamboo Flooring - Cleaning, Sealing, and Refinishing

A beautiful stained and finished living room, bamboo wood floor.

Now that you have installed your very own bamboo floor, it's time to maintain it and ensure that the beautiful look of your room lasts for a lifetime. The basics of floor maintenance are simple: a mild solution of soap and water applied to the surface after a general sweep is all that is needed for day-to-day upkeep. Certain places, such as those with high traffic or those more exposed to dirt-producing elements, such as the bathroom or kitchen, may require more extensive and more frequent cleaning. Over prolonged periods of time, your floor may become so worn or scratched that it may require refinishing. This is a reasonable project for the average do-it-yourselfer, and will provide you with that new floor look for a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire area.

Weekly Cleaning

Most homeowners have found that a general sweep of the floor every week or so followed by a light mopping when necessary are enough to keep their bamboo floors sparkling clean. Most readily available floor cleaners are more than enough to provide a spotless floor surface, although some specialty flooring retailers offer specific cleaning products with essential oils that will not only keep your floor clean but will also provide the necessary minerals and oils to keep the luster of your floor lasting indefinitely. Be sure to avoid using compounds that may contain abrasives, and stick to mops that utilize softer sponge-like materials rather than scouring pads or more aggressive materials that could mark or scratch your bamboo floor’s surface.

Sealing the Floor

When using a bamboo floor in a bathroom or kitchen, it’s important to take into consideration the cleaning requirements. Repeated excessive scrubbing could encourage premature deterioration of flooring, especially when considering the extremely potent cleaning chemicals typically used in a bathroom environment. In a kitchen, similar harsh conditions can also occur. Oil and food can easily stain the sometimes porous finish on most commercially available bamboo floors. Use of a sealer, applied semi-annually, will prolong the life expectancy of your bamboo floor. These sealers are readily available at most home improvement retailers, as well as specialty flooring providers, and are simple to apply.

Before doing anything else, make sure the floor has been cleaned and then given ample time to air dry. It’s probably easiest to set aside time where you can be out of the room for a few hours, then sweep, clean, and dry the floor in its entirety. Next, follow the instructions on your sealer. Typically, you will add contents of the bottle to a large bucket and start at the furthest point in the room, working your way back towards the exit while applying an even amount to the entire floor surface with a clean applicator attached to a handle. Going through this procedure every six months or so will further ensure a long lifespan for your floor.

This procedure is not limited to high-traffic or high-risk areas. Any room that has bamboo floors would benefit from this sealing process, although lower traffic areas could stand to have it done once a year rather than every six months.

Refinishing Bamboo

There may come a point where refinishing your bamboo floor is your best solution to damage, next to replacing it. If you have sealed and cleaned your floor regularly, you can anticipate having to refinish your floor a lot less than you would if it was neglected or left untreated.

The first step to refinishing a bamboo floor is to remove what is left of the old finish. This is best done with a disc floor sander, easily rented at any home center, with medium-grit sandpaper. Apply consistent, even pressure while maneuvering the sander across the floor, and continually check to ensure you are removing only the finish and not the actual flooring material. This is easy to see if you inspect the dust given off by the sander. If it’s dense and heavier, ease up on the sander pressure; if it’s light and almost white, you are doing just fine.

Next, after all the old finish has been removed, apply the new finish. Using mop applicators, evenly distribute the polyurethane, working from the furthest part of the room, with all available windows open to ensure proper ventilation. Between each coat, sand the floor with the disc floor sander using a light touch and fine-grit sandpaper. Repeat this process three or four times, or as many times as it takes to obtain the desired gloss you are looking for.

Be sure to allow proper drying time between each coat of polyurethane as well, and consult your local home improvement store professional for recommendations on which specific grade of polyurethane is best for your floor. As with any project, patience is key. Taking your time to make sure all imperfections have been sanded out between each coat will guarantee that the new finish you have just applied will shine with a luster that a new floor would have. Keeping pets out and maintaining a near sterile environment during the application process can be a tricky procedure, but with diligence and attention to detail, you should be able to take care of it.

If you can maintain your bamboo floors as described, the life of your wood floor will be a long one. Keeping up a bamboo floor is no more difficult than any other hardwood surface; a simple cleaning is all that is needed to bring the luster and shine back. Touch base with your local home improvement store professionals for any additional tips specific to the brand of bamboo floor you have, which could further extend the life of your investment.