Yes, You Should Go With Bamboo

image credit: Teragren LLC for "Designing with Bamboo for Superior Environmental & Human Health Impacts"

image credit: Teragren LLC for "Designing with Bamboo for Superior Environmental & Human Health Impacts"

As we work toward becoming a more sustainable, eco-friendly society, it's becoming more and more common to see bamboo used throughout homes in various ways. From flooring to paneling to furniture and more, bamboo is making its way to the limelight, and there's more than one good reason. 

Enhanced Performance

Perhaps one of the most important factors for building materials is performance, and bamboo shines here. Across the board, it has been shown to perform as well as, or better than hardwood. It can handle more weight than steel and concrete and is more water resistant than hardwood options as well. 

In the Janka test, which determines how hard a wood is and how resistant it is to denting and wear, both traditional and strand bamboo (we'll get into that in a second) outperform almost all other hardwoods, including oak. In addition, bamboo options are more dimensionally stable than other woods, meaning that, when exposed to moisture, bamboo doesn't shrink or expand as much. 

It is worth noting that not all bamboo is created equal, and we'll get more in depth with that in another post. To benefit from bamboo's outstanding performance, it's important to make sure you're buying bamboo from a trusted source, harvested at a certain age. If harvested too early, bamboo products are not as strong and can actually be inferior to other options. 

image credit: Teragren LLC for "Designing with Bamboo for Superior Environmental & Human Health Impacts"

image credit: Teragren LLC for "Designing with Bamboo for Superior Environmental & Human Health Impacts"

Variety

If you're inclined to think choosing bamboo means submitting to the stereotypical "zen" look that bamboo often brings, think again! Bamboo is available in a wide variety of appearances, thanks to a few things. 

First, there are two basic types of bamboo building material: traditional and strand. Traditional bamboo is very obviously bamboo, and the knuckles of the bamboo plant are visible in the finished product. It's made by slatting bamboo, then gluing it back together, and this is the type of bamboo used most often in those "zen" environments. 

But the other type of bamboo, strand bamboo, is made by shredding the plant and compressing it with adhesive into solid, usable material, and it resembles traditional hardwood. This means it can be used to create more traditional looks, and it actually accounts for about 80% of bamboo sales. 

In addition to choosing your style of bamboo, you can also opt for multiple texture and finish options, including whitewashed, dark stain, multi-color and more. Just be sure to keep the toxicity of these chemicals in mind! 

Eco-Friendly

We've talked about this before, but using bamboo far surpasses any other wood in the area of green design. Based on bamboo's unique ability to sequester carbon, even after being cut, its ability to rapidly renew and the fact that it doesn't wear out soil, bamboo isn't just eco-friendly, it's also sustainable, environmentally and in terms of indigenous ecosystems. 

Natural

Bamboo may not always give off that natural, green look, but it is one of the safest building materials to use in your holistic space, and it brings in a touch of nature to any room, most notably bathrooms and kitchens, where stainless steel appliances can create a cold, austere look. Bamboo brings warmth to these spaces as well as the benefits of adding nature indoors, from stress relief to reduced blood pressure and more. 

If you're renovating your space, building from scratch or adding new components like furniture, consider using bamboo in place of other, less-sustainable, potentially more toxic materials. Using bamboo can enhance the look and feel of your indoor space while providing relief to our planet as well as communities across the world. Why not give it a try?

by Anjie Cho