Quick Read: Bamboo in Construction

Do you know how strong bamboo is?


Thanks to its composition, bamboo is extremely durable. It has no rays or knots, unlike wood, so it can withstand more stress and it’s also better suited to gluing than hardwood.

Some American building and construction companies use bamboo exclusively, and in Asia bamboo is often used to build houses and other buildings that can withstand hurricanes if they are constructed properly. Bamboo also has the potential to absorb substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, making it an environmentally friendly choice.

Another sustainability feature of bamboo is how quickly plantations replenish. It is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. It can be harvested every three to six years, compared to about twenty-five years for softwoods and fifty years for hardwoods. It brings in money to many poorer parts of the world, and the plantations mean that softwood and hardwood areas can be left alone.

There are all kinds of external uses for bamboo. From structural frames to corner posts, joists, tie beams, rafters, roofing and exterior walls. It is susceptible to deterioration from insects, rot and fungi, but properly treated bamboo is long-lasting. Proper storage and treatment with kerosene or varnish can significantly extend the life of bamboo.



Bamboo construction in the UK


Because of the colder, wetter climates in Western Europe, some construction uses of bamboo that work in Asia and the US won’t be applicable. However, it can be used in the UK for parts of buildings, and it’s ideal for design elements inside and outside the house. Bamboo can be used as untreated pipe covers, for example, or as ceiling and floor trimmings. Bamboo decking, fencing, sheds, walls and panelling are all examples of typical UK use.



Bamboo piling


But we’ve also had customers use bamboo for piling for example. Piling is a technique that sets deep foundations for buildings, and such use shows the strength and versatility of this fantastic product.

New techniques, technology and methods of distribution in coming years are bound to increase bamboo use in the construction industry. It can only be a good thing.


Ken Downing

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