When it comes to the materials used to make furniture, we often think of more traditional choices such as wood and metal. However, furniture made of bamboo wood is also an option that has become increasingly popular due to its sustainability and versatility—a quick online search reveals a vast amount of bamboo furniture available in an even greater variety of styles.
Bamboo wood is an excellent choice for furniture; it is a tough and highly durable material with a unique finish. Available in its natural form or processed as planks or panels, bamboo also has dense fibers that give it extreme flexibility, all great attributes as a furniture-making material.
Are you considering a furniture purchase and have found furniture made of bamboo is one of your many options? Wondering how bamboo stacks up against wood and other materials traditionally used in furniture manufacturing? Read on to learn about bamboo as a choice for your furniture purchase.
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Does Bamboo Wood Make a Good Choice for Furniture?
Bamboo furniture has been around a long time, gaining popularity most recently as people seek eco-friendly furniture options that help our planet.
And if you think of only cane furniture when you think of bamboo furniture, think again. Bamboo comes in various forms that make you wonder if you are looking at wood or bamboo. Here are some examples:
- Solid bamboo is cut and split to make furniture, or decorative cane trim was used, resulting in furniture that retained a natural cane look.
- Processed bamboo comes in laminated planks, panels, and veneers.
In the 1990s, entrepreneurs found ways to develop and market bamboo laminate flooring to the West. In addition, the bamboo laminate was used for other applications such as cabinetry, furniture, and shelving, shifting the market from small specialty boutiques to large home furnishing stores. This development, along with a population interested in sustainability, has driven the desire for bamboo furniture.
Pros of Bamboo Wood Furniture
Using bamboo wood in place of other types of wood for furniture is primarily beneficial because it is good for the environment:
- Bamboo grows very quickly, regrows from its root system, and does not need pesticides or fertilizers: low maintenance, self-renewing, no chemical impact on the environment.
- Bamboo aids in carbon absorption and does so more quickly than most other plants. Extremely crucial given the extreme need to combat the greenhouse effect.
- Bamboo is highly versatile for use in furniture production—it can be in its original state with minimal processing, or it can be a panel or plank.
- Bamboo is 100% biodegradable as long as no harmful chemicals were used in producing it.
In thinking about choosing bamboo furniture, to ensure you genuinely make purchases that support sustainability, you’ll want to research where and how the bamboo is being grown, harvested, and processed. If bamboo is encroaching on already forested land or forests are being torn down to grow it, or chemicals are being used for more optimum growth, it’s not sustainable and causes more harm than good.
Of course, besides being eco-friendly, there are many other reasons to choose bamboo furniture:
- Light in color, with a smooth and glossy surface: bamboo, in general, has a lighter color than most hardwoods and with a sleek look that adds elegance to your home. However, don’t rule out bamboo because it’s generally lighter in color; keep in mind that bamboo can be made darker through a carbonization process that brings out a richer amber coloration, and it can be stained.
- Lightweight and easy to move: bamboo furniture is generally more lightweight than hardwood, making it easier to move and reposition within your home. However, don’t mistake this quality as inferior; bamboo is as strong if not stronger than traditional hardwoods.
- Durability: as hinted above, despite it being lightweight, bamboo has strength because of its dense fibers; when laminated, the strength of bamboo is amplified and even more durable.
- Bamboo furniture is unique: and because it is, many enjoy adding bamboo furniture to their homes as accent pieces or as the theme for an entire room.
- Easy to care for and maintain: bamboo furniture is as easy to clean as your traditional furniture; use a damp cloth with mild soap for general cleaning. Here’s a guide to caring for bamboo furniture.
With these qualities, furniture made from bamboo makes an excellent choice for your home.
Cons of Bamboo Wood Furniture
We’ve discussed the many advantages of bamboo furniture, but let’s have a closer look at some cons you should think about before purchase:
- There is no standardized grading system for bamboo. This means there’s no consistent quality control. For larger bamboo furniture purchases, you’d want to be sure to buy from a trusted source, make sure you have a warranty, and well-established customer service for communication in the event there are issues.
- There’s concern that processed bamboo may release harmful chemicals. Research the bamboo furniture and how it’s made before you purchase it, and verify the processing is safe for you and your home.
- There is a concern about bugs; again, your research about your bamboo furniture purchase should give you insight. Your bamboo should be pre-treated for bugs and pests before furniture manufacturing.
- There’s also concern that bamboo furniture scratches easily. However, this information seems more about bamboo flooring than furniture; some suggest bamboo furniture is more durable than traditional hardwood choices. Whatever your choice, care, cleaning, and maintenance ensure longevity and will keep your furniture looking new.
- Consider where you are putting bamboo furniture; both heavy sunlight, humidity, and rain can be hard on bamboo furniture. If used outside, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on both caring for it and how much exposure to the elements it can withstand. Again, like any major home furnishing, caring for your bamboo furniture goes a long way in increasing its lifetime.
What Type of Bamboo is Used for Furniture?
There are a little over 1700 species of bamboo; only a handful are predominantly used in furniture making. Here’s a chart of the few species used:
|Common Name||Location||Botanical Name||Characteristics and Uses|
|Moso Bamboo||Asia||Phyllostachys pubescens||Quick growing and the most common bamboo grown in China; economically significant. Most bamboo products from China are from Moso bamboo.|
|Knuth Bamboo||South America||Guadua angustifolia||Extraordinarily strong with many construction-related applications. Used for high-end and solid furniture pieces and other household items.|
|Oldham’s Bamboo||China||Bambusa oldhamii||The most popular bamboo grown in the US, lightweight and therefore better suited for furniture than construction.|
|Timor Black Bamboo||Timor Island||Bambusa Lako||Striking in its color variation, it retains its dark color even after harvesting, a lightweight and unique choice for furniture.|
|Java Black Bamboo||Indonesia||Gigantochloa atroviolacea||Considered one of the best bamboos for furniture construction, this bamboo is green with purplish-black striations.|
Moso and Knuth are used in mass production, while Oldman’s, Timor Black, and Java Black are used on a smaller scale.
Things to consider about the type of bamboo used in furniture making are its internal strength and aesthetic appeal. The heavier and stronger bamboo can be used in furniture applications with constant heavy use like beds, chairs, and couches. Lighter and slender bamboo is used for decorative trim and dressers or coffee tables.
In summary, Bamboo wood is an excellent choice for furniture, especially if you are concerned about saving the environment. Bamboo furniture has many attractive qualities and is a unique furniture addition to your home. Just remember to do your research on the bamboo furniture you are buying to ensure you are purchasing a high-quality product.