by Heather McCallum
Let me tell you about the benefits of bamboo products for the home, including building materials, decor and so much more.
I learned recently there are over 1400 species of bamboo, however, the timber bamboo species is what is primarily used for production.
Moso Bamboo, which is a timber species, reaches its optimal harvest time 5-6 years from planting. This is one of the reasons there is so much excitement about bamboo. Five years is astounding as most other tree species, such as hard maple or red oak, can take 80-100 years to be mature enough for harvesting. Bamboo has earned the recognition of being a rapidly renewable resource and LEED accredited for both the environment and indoor air quality.
Bamboo is good for the environment in another way. It’s known as a “natural carbon sink” due to its special root system. When harvesting bamboo for production, the roots naturally lock in carbon and hold it. This is unlike most trees, which release stored C02 when harvested and continually as they decompose, contributing to the greenhouse gas effect.
Bamboo is technically a grass, not a wood. It has a hollow core and its short fibres give it great flexibility. This makes bamboo an impressive option for installing, working with and designing flooring and furniture, as well as in fabrics and soft materials.
Brazilian cherry wood has been considered “the gold standard” of durability and performance for wood products. Strand Bamboo actually outperforms it. Strand Bamboo has the same strength to weight ratio as steel for tension and has a greater compressive strength than concrete. That’s impressive.
Bamboo prefers tropical climates, and for North American markets most bamboo products are shipped in. That can be a strike against it on an environmental scale. Fortunately its light weight is an advantage for shipping.
Not all bamboo products are created equal. It’s important to use credible sources. A substantial warranty is definitely a good indicator. So far bamboo has little regulation when it comes to building materials compared to almost all hardwood options found in stores.
Bamboo has proven to be extremely versatile, now being used for building materials, furniture, clothing, bedding, decor and even kitchen utensils. This rapidly renewable resource, which lowers greenhouse gas emissions and looks fabulous while doing it, will definitely grow to be more of a BamDoo than it already has been.
Gorgeous bamboo table in a restaurant in Tokyo. The centerpieces and dinner plates were also bamboo.