How to Make Faux Bamboo Out of PVC

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Turn PVC pipe into exotic bamboo accents.
Turn PVC pipe into exotic bamboo accents. (Image: Nick M Do/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Bamboo gives your home a rustic, tropical feel while also adding a touch of elegance. Its understated coloring and jointed sections complement most décors. Unless you grow your own, however, decorative bamboo can be expensive. To get the look of bamboo without the expense, create your own from PVC pipe. Use pipe leftover from other projects, or purchase it at a discount from hardware stores. It’s sturdy and costs less than real bamboo.

Things You'll Need

  • Pre-cut PVC pipe
  • Acetone
  • Steel wool (non-blued)
  • Soft cloths
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Joint compound powder
  • Earthy-yellow tinted plastic primer
  • Plastic tub
  • 1/8-inch thick string
  • Paintbrushes
  • Light brown paint with added glaze

Pour some acetone onto steel wool and rub it over your PVC pipe. This removes dirt, grime and smudges from being handled at the hardware store. Clean about 1 foot at a time, wiping it dry as you go. If you let the acetone air-dry, it will leave marks.

Rub down your pipe with 100-grit sandpaper. This roughens the surface and makes it easier to apply paint and plaster.

Pour a few ounces of your yellow plastic primer into a plastic tub. Add an equal amount of joint compound. Mix the two vigorously until they form a thick plaster. If necessary, add more joint powder, about 1 tbsp. at a time, until you have a compound the consistency of thick cake frosting.

Scoop up a little plaster with your fingers, and apply it in a ½- to 1-inch band around your PVC pipe. Work and smooth the edges of the band so they blend into the pipe. Gently pinch the center of the band so it sticks out in a gently pointed edge.

Press a length of twine into the gently pointed edge of your joint. This creates a bisected look that mimics bamboo joints. Create joints like this all over your bamboo. Space them about 1 to 1 ½ feet apart. Make sure no two pipes have joints in the same places. Let the plaster cure 48 hours.

Paint the rest of each pipe with your earthy yellow primer. Let the primer dry overnight, and brush on a light brown paint with glaze added. You can get mixes like this at home improvement stores. Brush up and down the pipes, not side to side. Let the glaze dry 48 hours, and display your new bamboo.

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