Wood : Bamboo
Introduction: There is an ancient Asian saying, “A man is born in a bamboo cradle and goes away in a bamboo coffin. Everything in between is possible with bamboo”. The monocot plant known as bamboo has been around and used to make products for over seven thousand years. Along with its rich history, bamboo is an excellent resource for eco friendly production. It is used to build things like houses, furniture, and other home products. There are several types of bamboo woods used in the home development industry such as particle boards, medium-density fibreboard, oriented strand board, veneers and more. Bamboo pulp is made into fibers which are used in the home textile industry to make linens and mattresses. As the uses of bamboo become more versatile, so does the human imagination and the industry that serves to express it.
Distribution: Most timber-producing bamboos are from south Asia, the largest of which are in China and India. The biggest markets for bamboo textile products are in the US, EU and Canada. New laws about what is allowed to be called ‘bamboo’ were made in order to prevent the misrepresentation of authentic bamboo surfaces. The Federal Trade Commission has ruled that if a product is made by mechanically processed bamboo fiber, it should be labeled and advertised using its proper generic name such as rayon. Labeling and marketing the product in the US has to comply with the ‘Textile Fiber Products Identification Act’ and the FTC’s Textile Rules.
Working Properties: Bamboo cannot be nailed without splitting, instead it must be pre-drilled and screwed or glued into place. Solid bamboo poles do not split, unlike the hollow poles which are extremely prone to splitting over time especially when there is a rapid temperature change. In order for varnish to adhere well to its smooth surface, the outer layer is sanded. Bamboo can be cut with a variety of saws though carbide cutters are highly recommended. Bamboo fibers tend to split and pull out when being cross-cut; in order to avoid this tearout, masking tape is applied across the cut line beforehand. There are two types of processing to obtain bamboo fibers; mechanical and chemical processing. Although chemical processing is not environmental friendly, it is preferred by many manufacturers as it is less costly and time-consuming. The mechanical processing method, although expensive, is eco friendly.
Physical Properties: Bamboo’s life cycle is short and it is fully matured after two to three years. Bamboo plants can grow up to 100 ft tall and 6 inches in diameter. It does not have growth rings, sapwood, knots or cross grains; therefore its texture is smooth and uniform. Bamboo fibers are longer than timber, making for excellent strength and durability. Bamboo fabric is similar to the softness of silk and 3-4 times more absorbent than cotton fabrics. This plant can flourish without the use of pesticides or fertilizers because it possesses an antibacterial and bacteriostatic bio-agent called “Bamboo Kun”. Bamboo fiber’s cross-section is covered with micro-gaps, making it extremely breathable with a powerful insulation. Bamboo is anti-static, UV protective and has a unique, earthy smell when being worked on.
Availability: Bamboo, as a natural plant, grows at an extremely fast pace, taking as little as sixty days to mature. Bamboo grows without any irrigation, often on fields, inclinations and in small forests along creeks. Its yield is ten times that of cotton, without using any fertilizers and pesticides. Bamboo is easy to grow, because of its root systems. Running bamboo species are especially easy to grow, as they produce several shoots at a time, and will take over as much room as they possibly can. Bamboo does not need to be replanted because it will sprout from its extensive roots, making it an endlessly renewable source.
Main Uses: At 6-12 months, bamboo is ideal for making fabrics, at 2 years, it is ideal for making plank boards, and at 3-5 years, it is ideal for construction use. Bamboo is used for housing, furniture, handicrafts, paper, and construction materials. Because bamboo fibers are soft, strong and durable they are used to make cushion covers, table linen, beddings and pillows, kitchen linen and more. Bamboo is often used to make chemically manufactured fibers such as rayon and viscose. Bamboo fabric can absorb ultraviolet radiation therefore it is used to make wallpaper and curtains. As seen in Town and Country’s most recent showroom display, the use of bamboo is increasing in the production of bathroom furnishing. Because of its excellent moisture absorption, bamboo is used for bath towels, bath robes and bath mats. Bamboo is also a popular material for traditional Asian kitchenware like bamboo steamers for cooking rice and steaming vegetables. Bamboo cutting boards are convenient because they are easy to clean and do not dull the knife’s blade. Demand for bamboo panels are increasing all over the world because they have the texture of marble and the elegance of wood.