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Bamboo vs. Other Building Materials

Bamboo vs. Other Building Materials

When it comes to finding the right materials to use for your interior and exterior spaces, there are many choices to consider. But bamboo-based products are superior in their versatility, strength, durability and beauty. With a closer look at what bamboo wood can be used for, you will see why this is the material you should use for a variety of purposes.

Bamboo, the world’s fastest growing plant, is an eco-friendly, sustainable building material that can be used for a wide range of decorative or structural projects like roofing, fencing, flooring, and even rugs. Along with being versatile, bamboo offers some unique benefits when compared to other building materials.

Why Use Bamboo?

Weighing your material options for building, you may feel uncertain about which direction to take. Your property deserves worthwhile additions, and the supplies you select contribute to the end result. As you browse stores, you can discover ways to incorporate wood, plastic, metal and tile into projects, but one material stands out from these — bamboo.

Bamboo may seem like a surprising building material, yet cultures across the world have harvested and implemented bamboo in their projects for thousands of years. Bamboo has a number of strengths that help it rise above other supplies. Viewing the pros and cons of bamboo vs. other materials can help you decide what to use in your own project.

Bamboo vs. Wood

Bamboo vs. Wood

Many mistake bamboo as a type of wood, because bamboo resembles the fibrous surface and serves similar purposes in building projects. It reaches a tree-like height, so it's usually placed in that category. However, bamboo is a variety of grass with a tough exterior, distinguishing it from traditional lumber.

Woods, especially those in the hardwood family like maple and walnut, are heavier than bamboo, but they correspond in their toughness. Bamboo is approximately the same hardness as oak, making it comparable to hardwood in terms of sturdiness and longevity. Most hardwoods can effectively bear weight, and some bamboo also has a load-carrying ability, although it's commonly accompanied by supports.

The appearance of bamboo is distinct from wood, as its pattern is reminiscent of tropical areas. People often describe the fashion of wood on or in buildings as colonial or rustic. With graceful elongated shafts, bamboo stands apart from rugged wood. Natural wood is available in a wide selection of styles and colors, while bamboo is typically available in either flat or vertically grained pieces that feature natural hues.

Bamboo poles and other bamboo products are comparable to wood in cost, and in some cases, bamboo is more affordable than wood. Buildings use wood as structural framing, exterior cladding and fencing, but it also appears as wainscoting inside businesses. Hardwood is a common flooring and wall covering, and occasionally it's put on roofs as shingling. The scope of bamboo applications is even broader because its flexibility opens up many possibilities.

Bamboo products are installed in the same manner as wood products, and both wood and bamboo materials should be allowed to acclimate to the environment before the installation. For instance, most manufacturers recommend allowing the material to acclimate in the room where the material is installed for at least 24 hours. This allows the material to adjust to the room’s moisture content and temperature.

Bamboo vs. Plastic

Bamboo vs. Plastic

The widespread production of plastic has made it a popular choice in fencing, paneling, roofing and flooring. This human-made substance contains polymers, and it's tightly sealed to resist weathering and corrosion. Bamboo can also withstand the elements in a rare way, and it has equally diverse uses. Contrasts between bamboo and plastic include:

  • Weight: While plastic and bamboo both feature minimal weights, plastic's properties are synthetic. Bamboo's inner cylinders, on the other hand, are mainly hollow with intermittent nodes. You can easily carry either one around as you set up at your construction area.
  • Durability: Plastic's hardiness is beneficial, but it also creates an environmental problem. The limitations of recycling make it less eco-friendly than renewable materials like bamboo. Plastic remains in unwanted areas for lengthy periods of time, which can disrupt ecosystems.
  • Cost: The price of plastic is low, but bamboo is increasingly favored for its inherent tenacity. Plastic may show up in an abundance of building parts, but its prevalence is decreasing, mostly due to its unsustainability. The bamboo market, by contrast, is projected to see a surge in growth in the coming years.

Plastic building materials can include vinyl, acrylic and polycarbonate. Plastic is malleable, so you can disguise its look, yet bamboo is also pliable and adaptable. Most plastic materials appear smooth but artificial, differing from the earthy characteristics of bamboo.

Bamboo vs. Metal

Bamboo vs. Metal

Tensile strength doesn't refer to firmness in substances, but it reflects the level of tension a material can hold up to. Metals are powerful materials overall, but they also retain some of the highest tensile strengths in nature. Bamboo also has impressive tensile strength, meaning it takes a lot of force to pull it apart. You can find different types of metal for building:

  • Aluminum is often used in roofing or paneling, and it's the lightest metal option in exterior and interior areas. Bamboo is even lighter and frequently more affordable than most aluminum building products.
  • Steel is a heavier resource, and it can comprise several parts of buildings, like frames and roofing. It is less costly than many other metals. Steel is one of the most prominent metal building materials, and it sees notable demand.
  • Copper can serve as a viable roofing component, but it also incurs a high cost. It's rustproof, but it's a softer metal which may not be as stable as other materials, like bamboo.

Metal can offer an attractive aesthetic quality to buildings with its shiny, reflective surface, and coatings minimize the typical glare. The design of metal building elements can adjust to take on various finishes and patterns. Bamboo's texture is organic and differs from the manufactured look of these products.

Bamboo vs. Tile

Bamboo vs. Tile

Types of tile, like ceramic and porcelain, can serve as roofing, wall coverings or flooring. Its polished look is tile's foremost advantage. Glazed or unglazed, tile can appear in the interior and exterior, but it's a predictable material to choose. Bamboo looks more unconventional and exotic.

Tile installation is time-consuming and involved, which can lengthen your construction efforts and disrupt your day-to-day operations. You have to mix and apply mortar, measure and cut tiles, place tile spacers and grout the joints. Bamboo installation is relatively forthright, and it doesn't require bulky tile cutters.

The pieces are weighty, which can cause you more trouble while you place them on the walls or floor. Backsplashes in kitchens can make a fascinating focal point, but both bamboo and tile can decorate the wall in between cabinetry and countertops. Other contrasts between bamboo and tile include:

  • Fragility: Impacts can eventually crack or chip tile, and you may have to replace these breaks, once again necessitating the challenging installation process. Alternatively, you can refinish bamboo flooring or fencing efficiently, and it involves sanding the area and staining it.
  • Cleaning: Ceramic tile isn't tough to clean, as its hard exterior repels most particles and messes. With greater flexibility, bamboo is more comfortable to walk on and lean against, and you can care for it easily.
  • Cost: On average, tile is more expensive than bamboo, as professional installation is recommended and the extra supplies like mortar and grout drive the cost up.

Bamboo vs. Stone

Bamboo vs. Stone

Natural stone can attach to walls in similarly to tiling, and it also heightens landscaping and interior surfaces. Granite, limestone, marble and slate are all hardy materials, yet they have ample weights. Hoisting natural stone is a significant contrast from lifting bamboo. Building with natural stone is a high-priced ordeal, as it's one of the most expensive substances in construction. Granite and marble both have steep costs.

Stone generally has an uneven and coarse look, but some categories are buffed until they gleam. Bamboo's surface also shifts after it is harvested in the right season, as it gets bleached. Changing from green to a golden-tan color, bamboo gives off a satisfying shine.

In the interior, you can stack a thinner stone to cover walls, especially around fireplaces. Bamboo also can adorn walls for a nature-inspired backdrop, and mounting it is less difficult. For the exterior, you can situate natural stone around flower beds and in gardens. Bamboo bordering makes a space-saving substitute that can edge walkways and elevate landscaping design.

The mining and processing of natural stone have improved, making the extraction processes greener, but it is not a renewable resource like bamboo. It takes the earth considerable time to reproduce stone, but bamboo swiftly grows back.

Benefits of Bamboo

Benefits of Using Bamboo

As a useful resource, bamboo measures up to many other supplies when it comes to your property. Standing on its own merits, bamboo is an attractive material. Whether you're thinking about putting in bamboo edging around your walls or fencing in your yard, it can add plenty of beauty and value to your project. You may want to stock your place with bamboo products due to their chic look, resilient composition, feasible installation, affordable cost and sustainability. Here are some advantages of using bamboo.

1. Weight and Durability of Bamboo

This formidable resource can endure through many circumstances. The tensile strength of the bamboo fibers is approximately 482.77 MPa, and bamboo blocks hold an even higher threshold of resistance to tension. Without being dense, bamboo is substantial and reliable.

The tissue of bamboo is ideal because it bends, but it differs in hardness based on its species. Worldwide, there are 1,400 bamboo species, and some types display more impressive thicknesses and hardness.

However, bamboo is extremely light. You won’t need heavy machinery like cranes when working with bamboo, and it is much easier to transport than heavier building materials. With the right treatment, bamboo is very resilient to the elements.

2. Installation Process for Bamboo

Depending on your project difficulty level, you can outfit your property with bamboo without excessive difficulty. Handling and storing certain quantities of bamboosupplies is comparatively uncomplicated, so you can accomplish your project with less hassle than many others.

Exterior installation of roofing is also manageable, and your building can become an island-inspired paradise in a strategic series of steps. Bamboo's light nature makes it a painless resource and efficient process.

3. Colors and Styles of Bamboo

Resorts, theme parks and stores can benefit from the dynamic ornamental aspect of bamboo. It doubles as a functional building material and an embellishing accent when it's integrated as:

  • Elegant wall coverings
  • Ceiling paneling
  • Flooring
  • Roofing

The decorative quality of bamboo lies in its color and style. Usually, bamboo products are colored a subtle yellow, beige, black or tropical tan. The selection is enhanced to also offer natural, caramel brown and speckled mixtures, too. Burnt bamboo displays a more dramatic pattern where the nodes are pronounced.

Whether in pole, slat, reed or an alternate form, bamboo comes in one-of-a-kind shapes with details and notching. Each piece holds remarkable features. Natural bamboo poles can be sanded and painted, and you can also order them stained or treated with a waterproofing agent, such as clear polyurethane. The stains can amplify the luster of bamboo, cultivating a healthy glow. Dark shades like black walnut and dark oak can bolster deep tones and create a refined outcome. When you pick treated bamboo, you can gain more personalization to match it to your current color scheme and accenting materials.

Bamboo can enhance tropically themed spaces or standard areas. The sense of style that bamboo brings can give further dimension to the design of your building project. It can play up your existing features and transform your space with its rich colors, abundant styles and exceptional detailing.

4. Cost of Bamboo

Affordable bamboo can make your construction efforts financially beneficial, and you can refrain from overspending when you revamp your building. As your projects can boost the appeal of your property, the supplies you purchase are a positive investment.

Typically, the cost for high quality, treated bamboo products is $4 per square foot, but untreated bamboo slats and poles are very affordable. After adding clear polyurethane, bamboo products increase in resilience and act as a cost-effective option as opposed to similar materials used for assembly.

With a top-quality product and reasonable costs, you can obtain a promising item for your needs. For large building projects or remodeling for a series of properties, this can reduce your overall input costs.

5. Applications for Bamboo

Bamboo is a natural product, just like hardwood, that can be used for walls, flooring and other construction inside the home. Businesses can also take advantage of the applications of bamboo because it fits into various settings. In any room, you can find a place to introduce bamboo material.

You can get bamboo in an assortment of diameters, lengths and forms. Poles normally come in lengths from 5 to 10 feet, and slats can range from 6 to 8 feet. Whether a room is spacious or condensed, you can find the right cut and shape of bamboo to enhance the area.

You can utilize bamboo on the interior when you put it on ceilings, floors and walls. It can also accentuate your exterior as fencing, roofing and standalone shade edifices.

Bamboo isn't suitable for every setting, but it can complement portions of residential and nonresidential structures. In particular cases, supports can help stabilize bamboo pieces to better establish partitions.

6. Sustainability of Bamboo

Building with bamboo can give your project a unique look and be beneficial for the environment.

Typical growth rates for most bamboos in temperate climates is approximately 1.2 to 3.9 inches per day —although it's possible for it to develop at an even faster pace. Some species can grow 35 inches in a 24-hour period. This fast growth contributes to bamboo being considered sustainable and renewable.

Its maturity rate makes it simple to replenish, as bamboo forests can generally be harvested every 3 to 6 years. New shoots appear quickly at the base of the stalks, as the process starts over. Compared to 8 years for Poplar trees and 25 years for fir trees, the life cycle of bamboo makes it more plentiful and sustainable than most hardwoods. With the ease of replacing the crops, it's a valuable green alternative to purchase for projects.

It can thrive with little support, requiring much less water than other crops. Bamboo crops don't need fertilizers and pesticides, which can harshly impact the environment because the plant rapidly spreads on its own. The spread of bamboo is also effective in erosion control, another eco-friendly advantage, as it stabilizes the surrounding soil. The presence of bamboo is linked to delaying deforestation, so it also helps other plants maintain their growth.

Because bamboo's growing conditions are so versatile, it can flourish in most climates. The climates that hinder bamboo growth include those with extremely low temperatures, like in Antarctica. Other environmental benefits of bamboo include:

  • The plants are substantial oxygen producers, generating approximately 30 percent more oxygen than hardwood forests and similar vegetation. This can diminish carbon dioxide and improve air quality, naturally purifying the atmosphere.
  • Depending on the bamboo provider, production methods can also limit or eliminate pesticides, formaldehyde and toxic chemicals.
  • The construction industry has embraced green building. With an emphasis on waste reduction, sustainable building practices are pushing for resources that aren't quickly exhaustible. Your building tasks can employ green construction tactics when using replenishable bamboo materials.

7. Care of Bamboo

Unlike most building materials, bamboo requires minimal care, and you can tidy up with basic steps. Simple solutions can revitalize the surface of this material, making it a beneficial supply to build with. You can touch up bamboo surfaces with a broom first, then use a damp mop as needed for additional cleaning.

Proper attention can keep bamboo strong, pristine and functional. Compared to metals that rust over time, bamboo doesn't demand as much vigilance in the cleaning process.

You can refresh fences and bamboo located outside by periodically reapplying stain and sealant. Use a disc sander to remove the existing finish and smooth out the surface before spreading new sealant over top. The bright sheen of the bamboo can continue to look striking with sufficient care.

Using Bamboo as a Building Material in Your Projects

Building with Bamboo Materials

Now that you know how bamboo measures up to other building materials and what its benefits are, you can move onto constructing with bamboo. Building with bamboo differs depending on the setting, and you can learn how to prepare for both the interior and exterior conditions.

1. Exterior Building With Bamboo

Adding an external sealer, like Total Wood Protectant (TWP), is necessary when using bamboo on the exterior, as the material is susceptible to moisture damage after two years. Observe the humidity levels in your area to gauge how well your bamboo materials suit your region. Some wood, such as pressure treated lumber, does not require additional treatment when used on the exterior, as the process of pressure treating the wood helps reduce water damage.

With proper treatment, bamboo can last for many years on exteriors and can be used in any project that normally requires the use of wood and similar building materials. The makeup of bamboo includes hollow tubes, and the walls across the tube at every node provide strength. The structure allows bamboo to be utilized for hundreds of exterior tasks.

This, along with its great capacity for shock absorption, makes it an incredibly useful building material in areas that are prone to earthquakes.

2. Interior Building With Bamboo

You can combine bamboo with your interior elements, but remember that even interior spaces experience environmental factors. Fortunately, bamboo has properties that can ward off deterioration.

During the production process, bamboo is immersed in a sodium borate mixture, which helps it resist insects. You can also take precautions to promote dry conditions to reduce the natural presence of starch and sugar in the bamboo.

Bamboo Project Ideas

Bamboo Project Ideas

Customary bamboo undertakings include renovating your building. Explore these tried-and-true ways to bring warmth and style to your place:

While the basic bamboo add-ons to properties can improve your area, there are more creative building applications to engage in, too. You can put together interesting shade structures, privacy fencing and separate nooks. The following ideas can produce new options to consider:

You can select an original bamboo setup to arrange on your property or inside your building. If you or your guests are spending time outside during hot weather, shade-providing shelters are indispensable to remain cool and protected from sunlight.

Choose Bamboo Products From Forever Bamboo

Ready to explore our high-quality bamboo products? You can order online at your convenience. Need assistance? Call us to speak with our customer support specialists. Our knowledgeable, friendly professionals are ready and happy to help with all your questions and requests.

Forever Bamboo is the nation's top provider of tropical decor, and we specialize in living products for exteriors. With an extensive inventory, Forever Bamboo provides free shipping on most products. You can benefit from our eco-friendly solutions, product availability and fast turnaround. Place an order, contact us online or give us a call today at (877) 912-2244.

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