Why choose bamboo as a building material?

Be it for flooring, furnishings, scaffolding, facade or decor, with the growing awareness about environmental conservation, people are looking into alternative choices for building materials. The closest and perhaps the strongest competitor is wood and given its slow rate of replenishment, people are looking towards eco-friendly alternatives. But, of all such choices, why bamboo? What is it that makes it so special that it is now gaining traction amongst the millenials?

Why choose bamboo over wood?

This question is best answered by pitting bamboo against wood and comparing them over a variety of factors as shown below.

Evaluation CriteriaBambooWood
Tensile strengthOwing to longer fibres, bamboo is usually more tensileShorter fibres reduce the tensile strength
Seismic resistant constructionHigher capability to absorb seismic vibration and better bendability makes it ideal for seismic-resistant constructionWood is generally less flexible compared to bamboo and hence less suitable for such constructions
ReplenishmentBeing a species of grass that grows rapidly, can be harvested annually. Some bamboo species can grow over 35 inches in a single day.Much slower growth (a tree might grow that amount in a year)
SustainabilityNeeds no replanting post harvestingOnce a tree is cut down, usually a new sapling needs to be planted for continued harvest
GeometryIts circular and hollow nature makes it easier to manipulate and form into shapes suitable for a variety of construction needsIts considerably rigid form makes it harder to manipulate and the end product is usually heavier
MaintenanceLow maintenance grass and owing to its natural surface color, most end-products do not require painting, scraping and polishing. Requires less capital as initial investment. Considerably high maintenance and is capital intensive
Benefits for naturePrevents surface run-off owing to extensive root network and protects surroundings during typhoons owing to large canopy. Also, reduces water contamination owing to high Nitrogen consumption.Provides shade and habitat for wildlife
Ease of useOwing to its high flexibility, it is very easy to make a variety of structural shapes out of bamboo. Often, to merge them together, only joints and terminals are needed as opposed to nails and glue.Often sub-sections of the structure are fused together with nails and glue make it hard to recycle
Bamboo vs Wood

While the comparison above looks into bamboo vs wood for building material, a better part of it also extends to concrete and reinforced concrete primarily used for modern construction.

Is bamboo the undisputed answer to all our troubles for building materials?

Just like every coin has a flip side, even bamboo has certain misconceptions associated with it. Unless handled with due care, bamboo can very well be spoiled by bugs and insects and it is easy to conclude that wood have been a better choice. But nothing can be far from the truth.

Just like wood, once cut, bamboo can attract insects and bugs and hence, it must immediately be dried and immunized. Also, it is inflammable so, a fire resistant coating should be applied post treatment. Bamboo fibers shrink upon drying which impacts not only the diameter across various cross-sections along the length but also can have impact on construction. Thus, master artisans take such factors into account when designing structures made from bamboo.

In conclusion, if used properly, bamboo does come far ahead of wood and can be used for a variety of purposes be it flooring, walls, furniture, buildings or decor at a much cheaper cost and lower maintenance.

Published by Kshitij Tiwari

Roboticist, martial artist, solo traveler, environmentalist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: