How to Paint Rattan and Bamboo the Right Way

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Rattan and bamboo are very popular materials for furniture, room separators, pencils, and much more.

Bamboo and rattan both tend to be very durable and their elastic nature lends itself to very interestingly shaped furniture. But the natural look of these materials isn’t always the best for every room.

So is there a way to paint bamboo and rattan?

Bamboo and rattan can be painted if the surface is prepared correctly. The best results can be achieved by cleaning the surface before applying a primer. The primer will prepare the surface for the paint and it will smooth the surface as well. Then a paint of your choice can be applied to the prepared surface of the bamboo.

So it is possible and actually quite easy to paint bamboo and rattan as long as you prepare the surface correctly.

I also found that using a spray primer and spray paint worked best. Mainly because it allows for a very smooth application. But more on that later.

When You Can and When You Shouldn´t Paint Bamboo or Rattan

While you can generally paint bamboo and rattan there are some situations where it might not be the best idea to do so.

If the bamboo or the rattan are sitting outside then you can paint them but you might have to seal your paint job afterwards with a varnish or something similar to protect it from the elements.

Bamboo, as well as rattan, are naturally resistant against the elements but if you paint them then you have to properly protect your paint job as well. Or otherwise, the paint might not survive very long outside.

If the bamboo or rattan are treated in any way then you should maybe consider sanding the surface before you apply any primer to it or otherwise the primer might not stick to the treated surface.

And the final thing to consider when painting rattan or bamboo is if the parts have to be able to move. Sometimes you might have furniture that bends slightly when used (like a chair with curved parts that carry weight or something similar).

When you want to paint something like that make sure to check out how much the parts move or bend. If they bend a lot then you might not want to paint it or otherwise, the paint might chip. But if it only moves a little then you can go ahead and paint it without any issues.

You can still paint materials that move or bend a lot but you have to use flexible primer and a paint that dries flexible.

How to Prepare Bamboo or Rattan for Painting

Finally, we are about to start painting the bamboo or rattan. But before we can do that we first have to prepare the surface for painting properly.

What you will need:

Depending on what you want to paint you might want to mask parts that should not get painted with some masking tape.

You should also put the object that you want to paint on a surface that can get some paint on it. I would also recommend applying the primer and the paint outside or in a well-ventilated area.

Before you apply the primer you should first clean the surface.

It is enough to simply wipe the surface down with some soapy water and a piece of cloth. You just have to clean off any dirt and dust.

Dry the surface with another dry cloth and wait for a couple of minutes before you apply the primer.

I would highly recommend using spray primer because it is easier to apply and you will get a very smooth finish.

I usually use the primers from Rust-Oleum and they never failed me. YOu can buy them at your local hardware store or right here on Amazon.

Apply the primer in thin even layers until every part that you want to paint is completely covered.

Let the primer dry for an hour before you continue.

If you find any uneven parts or dried drops then you can further smoothen the dried primer with some very fine-grit sandpaper.

If you find that the surface is smooth enough then its finally time to paint the whole thing!

How to Paint Bamboo or Rattan Properly

Now that you prepared the surface of the bamboo or the rattan proerly with primer, its finally time to paint them.

I would recommend using spray paint or an airbrush for applying the paint. This will ensure an even and smooth application.

You can use a paintbrush to apply the paint as well but then you might end up with brush marks on the finished paint job.

You can use any paint you like but I would recommend not using a enamel or lacquer-based paint because they usually dry very hard and bamboo, as well as rattan, tend to move a little from time to time (as all wood does) and that could lead to the paint cracking later on.

I usually use water-based acrylic paint or latex-based paint.

Apply the paint evenly in multiple layers. Let the layers dry in between each layer to ensure that the paint adheres properly and to avoid any discoloration.

Once you painted the whole object you are pretty much done but you may want to seal the paint job afterward to add another layer of protection. This isn´t really necessary, except when the painted object is going to be outside where it is exposed to the elements or if the object is being moved often where it might get damaged or scratched frequently.

How to Seal the Painted Bamboo or Rattan Surface

There are a lot of different sealers out there but I would recommend either using an acrylic sealer if you used acrylic paint or a spray-on matt varnish.

A sealer will protect your paint job from the elements, scratches, and even from the sun.

While you don´t have to seal your paint job every time I would still recommend doing so anyway. I usually seal everything I paint just to add another layer of protection just in case.

You can apply the Sealer in much the same way as you applied the paint. Just apply it in multiple thin layers until you covered the whole object. Just make sure that you don´t apply more than four layers or the sealer might influence the brilliance of the paint underneath it.

And there you go. If you followed every part of this guide then you will end up with a perfectly painted bamboo or rattan surface.

Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.

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