Bamboo Counter Tops Installation FAQ

Is my bamboo counter top pre-finished?

Eco-Logic-Bamboo Counter Tops are supplied in an unfinished format. The main reason we do this is because counter tops generally need to be cut to the final size. Also, clients want to be able to finish the counter top to fit their decor.

The counter tops are sanded to a 180 grit as supplied, so all you need to do is give the board a light sand to ready it for your final finish. Once you have done this, we highly recommend you finish with a sealer. IMPORTANT: Bamboo, similar to all timbers, is hygroscopic – that means it absorbs & exudes moisture from the surrounding air. It is therefore VERY IMPORTANT that when you seal your counter top, that you seal all surfaces equally. If you don’t seal a surface, that surface will absorb/exude moisture at a different rate to the rest of the counter top. The result will be a movement of the counter top on the unfinished surface causing a bowing of the top.

Can I sand my bamboo counter top?

Absolutely. Here are some tips:

Start sanding using a rougher grit, 220 grit is a good start. Then sand with finer grits until you achieve the smoothness you want. Bamboo looks great at a very fine grit  – you’ll really notice the difference once you varnish.

Can I use a Router on my bamboo counter top?

Bamboo is as hard as Red Oak, that means that it responds very well to being routed. So we recommend you go for the custom edge profile that’ll really suite your decor and design. So whatever profile you want, where it be a standard bull nose, mitre, round edge or fancy profile – go for it.

One point to keep in mind when routing (or cutting) bamboo. Due to it’s hardness, we recommend you go slowly and keep a uniform speed past the router bit (or blade). Rather cut your edge using multiple passes. Test your speed on an off-cut piece of bamboo first to get it just right. If you go too fast and stress the motor, you’ll end up burning the bamboo. This can be easily sanded out, or removed on another pass, but is important to keep in mind. It’s also a good idea to keep your router bit sharp.

You can also CNC and water jet cut any fancy design into your counter top, so let your creative juices flow.

What about installing a bamboo counter top under the sink or prep bowl?

One of bamboo’s greatest “talents” is it’s moisture tolerance – the best of all solid woods. The answer is therefore a BIG YES! However, raw, untreated bamboo is also susceptible to mould growth in moist environments. We suggest the following considerations when installing a sink or prep bowl on your bamboo counter top:

  • Make sure your bamboo counter top is properly sealed on all surfaces.
  • Only use high quality finishing products – this is especially true for the area around the sink or prep bowl.
  • We recommend a minimum of 5cm set back for sink placement from the front of the counter top.
  • Use a fine tooth blade when cutting out the sink hole. This will minimise splintering as you rip across the grain.
  • Cut your sink template holes and sand to a smooth finish BEFORE you seal the counter top. Consider applying a few extra coats of finish on the holes, because that is where the majority of water will collect.
  • Seal the sink to the counter top with a good quality silicone (or other) sealant.

What about joining the counter tops?

We offer two standard length counter tops, 3.6m & 2.44m long. Occasionally you may need to butt two counter tops together, we suggest the following in these cases:

  • Square up the butting edges first – before gluing or applying any finish.
  • Use a glue that is suited to exposure to water.
  • Test for straightness of your butting edges by dry clamping & checking for gaps.
  • You can use biscuits or dowels on the join if needed.

What finishing products can I use on my bamboo counter top?

A good quality sealing finish will ensure the longevity and performance of your bamboo counter top. Here are some pointers as you plan your finish:

  • Oils make a great finish for a kitchen counter top. One can get “light” & “dark” oils that’ll “stain your bamboo top in the process.
  • Polyurethane & varnishes require a base coat primer – you can use an oil such as tung oil or linseed oil. We also recommend you also consider the Loba Oil products.
  • Always test your primer and final finish product on an off-cut first before applying to your counter top.
  • If you are going to apply a stain to your bamboo counter top, we recommend you apply the stain on top of the primer coats if you desire an even finish. You can also mix the stain into your sealer (remember to mix thoroughly). This will ensure a uniform finish. Test the mixture first.
  • Balance your coats – use the same number of coats on all surfaces of the counter top. Warping may occur if you don’t do this.
  • Bamboo fibers are dense. We suggest you thin the first couple of coats with thinners before applying, and then allow extra time for the finish to be properly absorbed into the bamboo. If you don’t allow sufficient absorption time, your finish may end up forming a “skin” on the surface which will peel off in time. When working with bamboo, think of it as if you are working with a “dense wood’ such as Teak.
  • Sponging the top with a moist sponge before applying the finish helps create a very smooth & luxurious final finish.
  • Always rub the applied coat thoroughly after each application. This will avoid shiny spots. Consider using an orbital sander with a buffing cloth on each applied coat. This will ensure a satin smooth finish.
  • A light sanding between coats will ensure good adhesion between each coating.
  • If you are using your counter top as a butchers block – you plan to cut food on it, we recommend you coat with butchers block oil until the bamboo is fully saturated. This process may take more than a week to complete. Once the bamboo is saturated, then allow to cure for another week before using with food.
  • Consider applying a final coat of a good wood wax and buff to get a smooth finish.

Any special considerations when installing a bamboo counter top?

  • Bamboo is hard, so pre-drill any holes before screwing in your screws. It’ll save you having to remove screws with snapped off heads.
  • Bamboo, like any timber, expands & contracts. Make allowance for this movement, especially next to any fixed cabinet or wall, by leaving about a 5-6mm gap. You can use a quarter round or splash back to hide this gap if needs be.

How do I clean my bamboo counter top?

You can clean with a moist cloth soaked with warm water & a mild soap. Don’t use ammonia based cleaners like Handy Andy.

Want to know more about working with bamboo furniture boards and counter tops? You can subscribe to our “Working with bamboo” email series for more tips.

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