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.
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. If you have been thinking about buying a bamboo fence, that's some great news for you!
There are many benefits to having a bamboo fence, but there are also some things you will need to consider while you are shopping around. Is it strong and durable? What products should be used on it? How can you keep your bamboo fence looking new and beautiful for as long as possible? Please keep reading as we delve into bamboo's properties and all the methods to maintain a bamboo 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.
How Can I Make My Bamboo Fence Last Longer?
Fences are an exterior feature and therefore are subjected to wind, rain, UV rays, dust, pests, and debris. The constant cycle of retaining moisture and drying out creates tiny cracks on the surface of bamboo. UV radiation from sunlight will cause the fibers' breakdown, and winds will blast the bamboo surface with dust particles.
Any of these can cause major damage and weathering to your bamboo fence. Luckily, there are three main things that you can do to prolong the life of your bamboo fence; inspection, cleaning, and sealing.
Inspect your fence every few months for damage and pests. Look for cracks, peeling, mold, holes, insects, and pests, or excessive weathering. Noticing and resolving even small issues quickly can help prevent further damage later, which will end up costing you more.
Help prevent mold and rot by cleaning your bamboo fence one to two times a year, usually right before you seal it. You can use an eco-friendly fence cleaner or a solution of three parts water to one part bleach in a garden sprayer. You may want to power wash your fence beforehand to remove especially stubborn dirt if needed.
Finally, sealing your bamboo fence will keep water out and add a layer of protection. If you have just washed your fence, let it dry fully before applying sealant – you don’t want to seal the water in, after all! Good quality sealants will have high resistance to moisture and UV radiation and should contain a water-repellent preservative, a fungicide, and a stabilizer to minimize shrinkage and swelling.
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.
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.
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.
For these reasons, bamboo must be treated with boric acid before being made into fencing or any other building materials. This is usually done by the manufacturer or grower of the bamboo. Once this is done, however, the bamboo has a much greater resistance to some of the things that will cause it to degrade.
Are You Ready For A Bamboo Fence?
Bamboo has many great features and, if properly maintained, can last for decades. Bamboo fencing is available in various colors and styles and gives any fenced-off area a lot of privacy. It can hold up against many different weather conditions, such as high winds, heavy rainfall, and hot temperatures.
Those who are eco-conscious will love bamboo’s sustainability. Bamboo stalks are ready for harvest 3-6 years from planting, compared to the 30-50 years that a tree must grow before harvesting. Bamboo plants return 30% more oxygen to the atmosphere compared to other plants and help prevent soil erosion. Check out "9 Natural Fences For Your Yard."
So if you’re thinking about a new or replacement fence, you should definitely consider bamboo as an option!