Learn how to restore bamboo furniture that has been damaged by sun and rain. Repair rattan furniture – and protect it – for outdoor use!
Do you own bamboo or rattan furniture that has seen better days? Today, I’ll show you how to restore bamboo and repair rattan… and how to keep it that way, too!
Last year I found a set of 3 stackable bamboo side tables at a thrift store for less than $40. Sold! The set was on my deck – and holding a refreshing drink – by later that afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn’t take good care of my set… and they were in poor shape by late summer.
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What’s the Difference? Bamboo vs. Rattan
You might be wondering (I know I was!) what is the difference between bamboo and rattan? How can I tell which type of furniture I own?
Bamboo is hollow, while rattan is solid. Both materials have horizontal markings which makes them very similar in terms of the overall furniture design.
Luckily, this tutorial works for both bamboo and rattan furniture. So, even if you aren’t sure which material you own, you can still restore the furniture back to it’s original beauty!
Restoring Binder Cane
Binder cane – on the other hand – is not quite as easy to restore. The binder cane does not sand well, because it breaks easily.
What is binder cane? Binder cane is the caning which is wrapped around bamboo or rattan furniture joints.
In order to restore binder cane, you have several options:
- replace the worn cane with new binder cane,
- delicately (and patiently!) sand the worn binder cane, or
- paint the binder cane.
For this tutorial, I use the third option: paint the binder cane. I’m not at all patient when it comes to projects like this… so the second was certainly not an option.
How to Repair Rattan Furniture (Restore Bamboo)
Refinishing rattan furniture isn’t a quick fix. Expect to spend several hours on each piece. It requires time to sand adequately and taping around caning is tedious. However, it’s an affordable method to get a “like new” furniture set.
- Utility Knife
- Wash the bamboo or rattan furniture with dish soap and water.
- Once dry, sand down the glossy finish. Also, sand off any hard-to-remove dirt or grime that wasn't cleaned in step #1.
- Next, cut off any loose binder cane with scissors.
- Once the loose pieces are removed, apply painter's tape around the binder cane.
- Paint the binder cane in a durable paint, such as exterior paint or door and trim paint.
- Once the paint is dry to the touch, use a utility knife to cut between the painter's tape and cane. Peel off the painter's tape.
- Let paint dry 24 hours.
- Finally, wax the entire piece to restore the natural wood/cane and to protect the finish.
Protect Bamboo and Rattan Exterior Furniture
Once you’ve completed all of that hard work, make sure to protect rattan furniture. Last year, we bought outdoor furniture covers and were incredibly pleased with the quality (see my full review). It only made sense to buy furniture covers for our bamboo side tables from the same brand.