How To Seal Bamboo Fencing

Bamboo has a natural silica layer that protects it from moisture damage. Unfortunately, this layer may disintegrate due to wear and processing.

A solvent or polyurethane sealant can protect bamboo for years; however, when amateurs attempt to apply sealants to bamboo, flaking tends to result. Before you apply any type of sealant to bamboo, strip down the remaining silica, or adhesion problems will prove inevitable. Choose the right type of sealant based on whether the bamboo is bare or stained.

Bamboo fencing has become a popular choice for homeowners in recent years. It is highly attractive, less expensive than wood, and a very sustainable natural material. But many people in the market for fencing often wonder:

How long does bamboo fencing last?

We’ve researched the durability of bamboo fencing to get the answer for you. Bamboo is not naturally waterproof – it needs to be treated and sealed to have this property. A high-quality bamboo sealer must be applied to the surface before installation, one to two times a year, depending on your local weather conditions.

When bamboo fencing is well cared for, properly maintained, and professionally installed, it can last up to 15-20 years. Untreated bamboo typically only lasts from 2-7 years, even under ideal conditions, so it’s worth it to take the time to care for your new fence. 

How Long Does It Take For Bamboo To Rot?

The answer to this depends on how your bamboo fence is installed and cared for and the environment’s conditions. Natural, untreated bamboo will start to rot within 2-years maximum, while properly treated and maintained bamboo can last up to 20-years.

Exposure to prolonged moisture and wet conditions will cause mold and accelerate rotting and decomposition. For this reason, many manufacturers recommend keeping your bamboo fence out of contact with soil. When installing, leave several inches of clearance below the bottom of your fence to keep it out of the ground.

Is Bamboo Fencing Waterproof?

Bamboo is not naturally waterproof – it needs to be treated and sealed to have this property. A high-quality bamboo sealer must be applied to the surface before installation, one to two times a year, depending on your local weather conditions. When this is done regularly, your bamboo fence will stay sealed and protected from water damage.

Is Bamboo Fencing Strong?

Bamboo is an extraordinarily strong material – though exceptionally light and porous, it has a tensile strength greater than steel! Bamboo will resist breaking under stress up to 28,000 pounds, compared to steel’s 23,000 pounds. When compared to wood, bamboo has shown to be two to three times stronger than most woods.

Unfortunately, raw bamboo has somewhat lower durability than most hardwoods. Bamboo is not wood; rather, it is a type of grass with woody stalks. The stalks of bamboo are tough and fibrous but lack the natural toxins that help prevent biodegradation (or rot). Furthermore, bamboo contains a high amount of natural sugars, which are attractive to mold, fungi, and pests.

Is bamboo fencing cheaper than wood?

Bamboo is quite expensive as compared to other fencing options. It is even more expensive than wood and costs considerably more than vinyl or metal fences. Bamboo is not easily available in all climate conditions and therefore may have to be specially ordered.

Is bamboo fencing a fire hazard?

Leaf and culm sheaths also get caught up in the dense clumps of culms and dead culms are often buried in the dense clumps of culms making it difficult to impossible to remove them. These characteristics are shared by all bamboos and cause all bamboos to be fire prone.

Sealing Your Fence at the Time of Installation

Recommended Materials:

  • Cleaning Solutions: Combine ¾ parts water, ¼ parts bleach, or use any environmentally-friendly fence cleaner available at your local hardware store: Simple Green™ or Olympic™ Premium Deck Cleaner & Brightener
  • Tools : Power Washer, Nylon Bristle Brush, $12 Spray Nozzle, Spray Bottle, Sander / Sandpaper
  • Sealant: TWP® 300 – with fungicide and UV inhibitors.

Continued Maintenance After Installation:

  • First year maintenance: Clean and re-seal your fence following steps above after 12 months.
  • Regular maintenance: Sweep away foliage buildup from your fence regularly, especially where shade and water is abundant. Take measures to edge and trim the terrain around your fence.
  • Future maintenance: Clean and re-seal your fence every 2-3 years, or as needed depending on the regional climate conditions.

How to Clean and Seal Your Fence:

  1. Spray bamboo liberally with cleaning solution.
  2. Allow to soak for 15 minutes.
  3. Scrub surface with a nylon bristle brush, wipe away loosened residue with towel.
  4. Rinse bamboo using power washer or hose.
  5. Allow 2 days for bamboo to air-dry completely.
  6. Apply first coat weather-protectant containing fungicide and UV-inhibitor. Always follow manufacturer’s application instructions. See guidelines below:
  7. Do not apply below 50°, if rain is expected within 48 hours, or heavy dew is present.
  8. Mix thoroughly before applying first coat to bamboo panel using a brush, roll or spray.
  9. Avoid exposure to high levels of moisture while the sealant is drying.
  10. To accelerate dry time, scuff up the tacky TWP® surface of to release entrapped solvents.
  11. The best finish will be achieved with two coats.
  12. Allow 3 days for the first coat to dry thoroughly.
  13. Scuff up the first coat of sealant with a bristle brush prior to applying second coat for best results.

How Often Should I Clean and Seal My Fence?

It is advisable to clean and seal your fence prior to installation and every 2-3 years thereafter (see instructions above). However, there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” treatment. Depending on the regional climate, it may be advisable to apply a sealant annually for the best results.

What Kind Of Oil Do You Use On A Bamboo Fence?

Two effective and popular options are linseed oil or varnish. Linseed oil is a natural oil from the flax plant and has been used since ancient times as a sealant. Linseed oil dries solid, so it is a great choice as a protective finish. However, it tends to yellow over time, though many commercially available oils have additives to prevent this. Varnish is a durable sealant consisting of resins, oils, and solvents and is highly suitable for exterior use. For even better protection, try spar varnish – it has greater UV and water resistance, which will help your bamboo fence last even longer if applied correctly.

1 thought on “How To Seal Bamboo Fencing”

  1. I really appreciate your information on prep and sealer for the fence I’ll be installing. I’ve done a lot of research and finally decided on a quality natural bamboo fence. It’s only 4′ tall, perfect for my needs.

    I’ll follow your directions exactly, but I’m confused about the last section where it mentions what kind of oil to use. Is this in addition to a sealer, or is it an alternative (varnish, linseed oil) to a bamboo sealer?

    Thank you.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.