Bamboo furniture is undergoing a revolution as of late. The rustic furniture of the sixties and seventies, made from unmilled bamboo shoots and poles, is still available. There is also a new face to this type of furniture as well. Milled, sanded and finished bamboo furniture rivals any hardwood furniture in durability and beauty. Add to the fact bamboo is one of the world’s most environmentally-friendly resources to raise, harvest and use, and it’s clear why bamboo has become one of the hottest furniture building materials on the market.
A Piece of the Tropics
Of course, some people really like the tropical look and beach-bum feel of rustic bamboo style furniture. If you fall into that category, don’t fret. There are literally hundreds of furniture producers making everything from couches to coffee tables to luxurious covered beds using this time-honored method of furniture building. Talk to a furniture supplier who deals in rustic designs about finding the right style of furniture for your needs.
Rustic furniture aside, it’s more likely that you’ve been drawn to bamboo furniture by the newer, more finished bamboo furniture hitting the market. If that’s the case, here are a few basics about building fine furniture with bamboo so you’re well-informed when you hit the show floor.
- Color: Furniture made from bamboo is available in two colors. The shade referred to as natural bamboo is akin to the light color of maple. That’s the color of bamboo if it is manufactured into furniture without utilizing any techniques to alter its natural appearance. The other shade is carbonized bamboo. Carbonized bamboo is the result of a steaming process that brings out a darker, amber shade in the wood.
- Composition: The smooth, fine furniture look you’re drawn to is accomplished by cutting the bamboo stalk (bamboo is actually a grass, not a tree, hence a stalk, not a trunk) into small, narrow sections and then gluing those pieces of wood together. Depending on which face is used, the end result is bamboo plywood or vertical grain bamboo panels. Panels are a little bit sturdier, though visually there is little difference between the two.
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- Durability and Cost: The hardiness of bamboo is what is really amazing about this furniture. Bamboo is actually harder and more durable than oak, the gold standard when it comes to hardwood furniture. Because of this, bamboo isn’t cheap, but it will cost you less than most comparable furniture made from big name hardwoods such as oak, maple, and cherry.
The other reason customers are drawn to bamboo is its well-earned reputation as a green building material. As mentioned before, bamboo is actually a grass. That means it grows faster and can be harvested sooner than trees. Furthermore, it doesn’t need to be re-planted after each harvest since it will just send up new shoots. In other words, bamboo plantations can continually harvest the same stand of bamboo every few years in perpetuity, without harming the plant (it’s like mowing your lawn).
Talk to a furniture professional to find the right piece of furniture for your needs. By buying bamboo you’ll be getting one of the strongest, most durable and most beautiful pieces of furniture you’ve ever laid eyes on. And you’ll also be investing in a piece of furniture that you can enjoy with good conscience for years to come.