5 Best Oils to Nourish and Protect Bamboo Furniture 

5 Best Oils to Nourish and Protect Bamboo Furniture 

Enrich Your Bamboo Furnishings: A Guide to the Top Oils for Care and Maintenance

5 Best Oils to Nourish and Protect Bamboo Furniture 

Bamboo furniture has seen a surge in popularity over the last few years. With its natural beauty, strength, and sustainability, it’s no wonder this versatile material is being used more and more for indoor and outdoor furnishings.

According to research by Grand View Research, the global bamboo furniture market size was valued at USD 7.6 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% from 2022 to 2030.

But like any natural material, bamboo needs proper care and maintenance to keep it looking its best. And one of the keys to protecting bamboo is using the right type of oil.

So what is the best oil for bamboo furniture?

Based on its porous structure and susceptibility to drying out, tung oil or Danish oil work incredibly well to nourish bamboo furniture. These penetrating oils soak deep into the fibers, protecting against cracks and splits while enhancing the natural grain. Wax-based oils like lemon or orange oil are also great options for added shine and water resistance.

In this article, I’ll go into more detail on the benefits of using tung, Danish, and citrus oils on bamboo furniture. I’ll also provide tips on how to apply and maintain your bamboo pieces using these nourishing oils to keep them looking beautiful for years to come.

Why Oil Bamboo Furniture?

As a natural material made from fast-growing grasses, bamboo has an open pore structure. This means it can easily lose moisture over time and become dried out. Using oil on bamboo furniture helps seal in hydration and prevents issues like:

  • Cracks, splits, and splintering as bamboo loses moisture
  • Fading and dulling as the finish wears down
  • Warping or cupping without protection from humidity

Oiling also enhances bamboo’s natural appearance by:

  • Intensifying the grain patterns and color
  • Restoring shine and luster
  • Refreshing worn or weathered areas

The key is choosing an oil specifically formulated to penetrate and nourish bamboo fibers. Let’s look at some of the bamboo oils that really stand out.

1. Tung Oil

Extracted from the nut of the tung tree, tung oil has been used for centuries to finish and protect wood furnishings in China. Today, it remains a top choice for oiling bamboo furniture.

Tung oil penetrates deeply into the bamboo thanks to its smaller molecular structure. This helps strengthen the fibers and prevent moisture loss and related damage like cracks and splits. The natural water-resistant properties of tung oil also help protect bamboo furniture against spills, humidity, and other exposure to water that can lead to warping.

This oil dries to a smooth, subtle sheen while enhancing the natural color and grain of bamboo. Tung oil is also non-toxic when dry, making it a smart option for finishing kitchen tables, baby cribs, and other bamboo furniture destined for frequent human contact.

2. Danish Oil

As another excellent option, Danish oils are actually a blend of oils – usually including tung oil plus varnish or polymerized oils. This combination offers deeper penetration power along with extra protection.

The varnish component in Danish oil forms a protective, flexible barrier on the surface of the bamboo. This seals in the oil to prevent drying out while adding water and stain resistance. Danish oil is also renowned for amplifying grain patterns and enriching color.

Since it contains varnish, Danish oil will dry faster than pure tung oil. It leaves a smooth low-sheen finish, without the shiny or plastic-like appearance of a full varnish coating. Danish oil is easy to apply and maintain, making it a favorite for finishing bamboo dining tables, credenzas, chairs, and more.

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3. Citrus Oils

Oils extracted from citrus peels, like lemon and orange, also work wonderfully to treat and protect bamboo furniture. The limonene compound gives citrus oils natural water-resistant and antimicrobial abilities. This makes them ideal for outdoor bamboo furniture exposed to moisture.

Citrus oils penetrate bamboo deeply to nourish and stabilize the cells. This prevents drying and related splits or cracks. The oils also enhance bamboo’s richness and bring out the unique grain patterns.

Lemon and orange oils leave a lovely low luster while providing UV protection against sun damage. For oiling bamboo patio sets, garden benches, or poolside tables, a citrus oil is the way to go.

Try using a citrus oil formulated for finishing wood, like Premium Golden Citrus Oil. This nourishes and protects outdoor bamboo furniture while imparting a fresh citrus scent.

4. Walnut Oil

Like tung oil and citrus oils, walnut oil is also derived from nuts. It contains drying compounds that help it cure into a protective finish.

Walnut oil has a slightly amber tone, so it brings out a rich warmth in lighter bamboo. It penetrates deeply to nourish the fibers. The oil also forms a subtle sheen to enhance bamboo’s natural glow.

This is a great option for indoor bamboo furnishings like side tables, shelves, and accent chairs. Walnut oil is safe for human contact when dry. For food prep surfaces, be sure to use walnut oil marketed as food-safe once cured.

5. Hemp Seed Oil

Pressed from hemp seeds, hemp seed oil is a green, natural oil that works similarly to tung and Danish oils in finishing bamboo’s porous structure.

Hemp seed oil allows moisture inside bamboo to move freely, which prevents cracking and splits. At the same time, it forms a protective barrier against external moisture sources.

This fast-drying oil has very little odor and leaves a smooth, even finish. It brings out the varied coloring in bamboo knots, scars and grains for added visual interest. Hemp seed oil is non-toxic when dry.

Both walnut and hemp seed oils are great eco-friendly options for protecting bamboo furniture without harsh chemicals. They nourish bamboo’s fibers while enhancing its natural appeal. With a bit of renewal every year, these oils will keep your bamboo furnishings looking rich and vibrant.

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How To Apply Oil To Bamboo Furniture

Now that you know which oils work best, let’s look at tips for properly applying them:

  • Clean first – Remove any dirt, dust or residue so the oil can penetrate effectively. Use mild soap and water, then let the bamboo dry completely.
  • Sand lightly (optional) – For older bamboo with a worn finish, light sanding opens the pores so oil can soak in better. Use 220 grit sandpaper.
  • Wipe on thin coats – Apply the oil across the grain using a clean rag or lint-free cloth, rubbing it gently into the surface. Let it soak 5-10 minutes before wiping away excess.
  • Allow proper drying time – Let the oil dry at least 24 hours between coats. Tung oil and Danish oil may take 3-5 days to fully cure. Citrus oils dry faster.
  • Add protective topcoats (optional) – For extra protection on tabletops and surfaces, add 1-2 thin topcoats of an oil-based polyurethane, wiping on and allowing to dry between coats.
  • Avoid over-oiling – Just 2-4 thin coats of oil is plenty. Too much oil leaves a gummy residue.
  • Refresh annually – Reapply a thin coat of oil once a year, or more often for outdoor furniture. This maintains the protective finish.

Properly oiling bamboo furniture takes a little time and patience. But it’s easy to do yourself and helps preserve the natural beauty of this sustainable material.

Best Oils For Specific Bamboo Furniture

Certain oils work especially well for specific types of bamboo furniture based on the exposure and wear. Here are some top oil recommendations:

  • Kitchen tables – Tung oil or Danish oil give durability against hot dishes, spills, and daily use while being food-safe when dry.
  • Bedroom furniture – Tung oil brings out bamboo’s warmth and enhances the grain while being safe for human contact.
  • Outdoor patio furniture – Lemon or orange oil nourishes outdoor bamboo while providing natural water and UV resistance.
  • Office furniture – Danish oil gives a protective finish for desk tops and bookshelves while preventing drying out.
  • Children’s furniture – Citrus oils like orange oil give a kid-safe, non-toxic finish for cribs, tables, and more.

No matter what type of bamboo furniture you own, using one of these recommended oils will help maintain its natural beauty and prevent drying out and damage.

Oiling Vintage or Antique Bamboo Furniture

When it comes to vintage or antique bamboo furniture, take special care in choosing an oil finish. You’ll want to enhance the patina and character while staying gentle on more delicate pieces.

Here are some tips:

  • Test oil in an inconspicuous spot first, since older bamboo may be more porous.
  • Use very thin coats of tung oil, Danish oil, or citrus oil, wiping away excess after 10-15 minutes.
  • Consider diluting the first coat 50/50 with mineral spirits for better control on absorption.
  • Let oil dry thoroughly between coats, especially with fragile antique bamboo.
  • Add ultra-thin protective topcoats once fully cured, but avoid polyurethanes that could yellow over time.
  • Refresh oiling yearly to nourish old bamboo without oversaturating it. Proper oiling preserves vintage bamboo’s aged appeal.

Maintaining Bamboo Furniture With Oil

While oiling bamboo furniture helps seal and protect it, bamboo will still need proper maintenance to look its best. Here are some tips:

  • Keep bamboo out of direct sunlight to avoid fading and drying out.
  • Dust frequently and clean spills promptly to prevent stains.
  • Use furniture coasters under glasses, potted plants and vases.
  • Avoid harsh cleaners and abrasive pads which can damage the finish.
  • Apply fresh coasts of oil annually or biannually to maintain protection.
  • Consider re-oiling outdoor furniture more often, like every 3-6 months.
  • For extra resilience, add new topcoats of polyurethane every few years.

With the right care, oiled bamboo furniture will develop a beautiful patina over time. Be sure to properly clean and re-oil your pieces whenever the finish starts looking worn, dry or patchy.


One of the best ways to care for gorgeous bamboo furniture is by using penetrating oils that nourish the fibers while protecting against moisture damage.

Tung oils, Danish oils, and citrus oils are ideal choices for finishing bamboo’s porous structure. These soak in deeply to prevent drying and splits, as well as enhance bamboo’s natural color and grain.

Apply 2-4 thin coats of oil across the grain, allowing proper dry time between applications. Refresh annually or biannually to maintain beauty and resilience. With the right oil for nourishment and protection, your bamboo furniture can remain a treasured part of your home for years.