One of the most prevalent materials in any home is wood but with growing concern for deforestation, choosing an ecologically responsible alternative such as bamboo has gained in popularity. Wood is commonly used for cabinetry, flooring, furniture, trim and even unseen items such as frame work. Bamboo is a rapidly replenished and sustainable material that can be used to create many of these items, is surprisingly durable even though it is technically a member of the grass family and is beautiful when finish-treated properly.
Typically, bamboo suitable for construction can be harvested in just five years while most tree species require upwards of fifty years to fully mature. The beauty in this is that ten times as much bamboo can be produced in the same amount of time it takes to grow one tree. Spatially, it is a smaller radius than a tree so it requires less acreage to harvest an equal amount of material. In addition to rapid growth and a small footprint, bamboo displays similar benefits to those of trees — it helps prevent soil erosion and releases oxygen which protects against pollutants to provide clean breathable air.
The durability and beauty of this material are two of the main draws in the realm of interior design. When properly treated natural bamboo will be a similar hardness to natural maple wood. Maple is a well known hardwood and has grown in popularity for its light blonde color and soft graining which makes it a perfect backdrop to many of today’s modern furnishings and bold fabric colors. Since bamboo is a grass there are few options for color (the material technically can not be stained) and natural blonde is a common choice. It will be extremely durable when a proper finish is applied. The second is known as carbonized bamboo which often has similar coloring to red oak. This is a popular choice because of the warmth in color however it is important to remember that the carbonization process of boiling the bamboo tends to weaken the material. When properly finished however, either is ideal for flooring, cabinetry or furniture.
There are a slew of bamboo manufacturers in existence and they carry a variety of products ranging from kitchen cabinetry to flooring to furniture and everything in between. AlterEco, a San Francisco based company, specializes in creating beautiful cabinetry from bamboo. Their online showroom is full of gorgeous installation photos which truly display that bamboo, although limited in color, can be a perfect choice in either a traditional or ultra modern setting. Flooring is one of the most prevalent installation selections for bamboo and iFLOOR is a company offering a very wide variety in style and color of flooring planks. Reviewing their prices it is clear that not only is this material friendly to the planet, it is friendly to the wallet as well. A carbonized alternative similar in color to Brazilian cherry is almost 2 dollars less expensive than that same cherry per square foot. The Bamboo Showroom carries a bar and stool set that would provide a fun and tropical feeling to indoor or outdoor spaces for about half the cost of similarly styled solid maple sets.
It is easy to see why bamboo is gaining attention in the world of design and construction. As a resource that grows up to ten times as fast as a tree, helps to produce clean air and a material that displays many similar qualities to wood it is an Earth friendly alternative. On the next shopping trip for household amenities consider bamboo as the trend that is here to stay.