There are growing concerns for our environment. It made more people start looking for sustainable and green alternatives. One such alternative is using bamboo products, particularly bamboo plywood.
Bamboo plywood is becoming a popular choice for residential and commercial projects. It is ideal for flooring, countertops, cabinetry, furniture, and other applications.
But despite its popularity, some people may hesitate to use bamboo plywood, owing to its cost. For some people, bamboo plywood can put quite a dent in their wallets.
Why is bamboo plywood so expensive? You may ask.
Like any quality item or material, bamboo plywood comes at a rather steep price. Here are four good reasons why.
1. The complicated production process
As you may have guessed, bamboo plywood comes from bamboo. But it is not from any bamboo species. It comes from Moso bamboo, the densest bamboo species.
Moso bamboo is not the typical backyard bamboo variety. Also known as Tortoise-shell bamboo, it reaches maturity in 5-6 years. When it matures, it yields the densest fibers of any bamboo species. It makes it a perfect choice for engineered bamboo products such as bamboo plywood.
The production of bamboo plywood involves intricate or complicated stages.
Once a bamboo stem grows to 35-40 feet, it is time to harvest and check for defects and pest infestation. This bamboo stem or culm is then cut into slats. It is then treated with a borate mixture to kill any pest on it. It is then kiln-dried with between 6 and 9 percent moisture content.
The production people sand smooth and check the kiln-dried slats. They would classify the slats as substances or substrate materials. They would laminate and glue together the dried slats to create a single panel. They would glue the panels together to create multi-panel plywood. The multi-panel plywood is free of formaldehyde emissions.
They would further glue together and heat-press the multi-panel to prevent warping. This final process makes the bamboo plywood more stable. It also makes the bamboo plywood 3-4 times more dimensionally stable than oak.
2. Only about 30% of the bamboo plant is usable
Unbeknownst to some, if not most people, bamboo is grass from the family Poaceae.
Bamboo is a tall and fast-growing perennial plant. Some variety grows to as much as 1 foot per day. It has hardened hollow stems, known as culms, which grow in clusters from a thick underground stem.
When the bamboo matures, engineered bamboo manufacturers harvest the stems. They would then cut them into slats or panels to make them into bamboo plywood. But since a bamboo stem is hollow, it is not easy to cut it into slats. Those in the bamboo industry can only use about 30% of the bamboo to produce bamboo plywood.
3. Limited bamboo resource
There are around 14 million hectares of bamboo areas or zones around the world. These areas are in the Asia Pacific, Americas, and Africa.
In contrast, there are about 4.06 billion hectares of forest zones or worldwide. Since the 1990s, the primary forest coverage has decreased by more than 80 million. It is because man abuses forests and forest resources. Even with this decrease, though, there are still more forest zones than bamboo areas.
There are more than 1,000 species in over 70 genera of bamboos globally. About 80% of these bamboo species grow in the eastern and southeastern regions of Asia.
About 20% of the world’s bamboos grow in China. It is thanks to the country’s geographical conditions and beneficial natural environment. It earned China the distinction as a bamboo kingdom. China has over 500 bamboo species in China, and Moso bamboo is one of these species. Moso bamboo is the bamboo variety that manufacturers use to make bamboo plywood.
4. Shipping costs
A large part of bamboo species grows in Asia. In particular, China has over 500 bamboo varieties growing in its northern regions. Thus, it earned China the distinction of being the Bamboo Kingdom. The shipping location of the bamboo plywood affects the shipping costs.
Bamboo plywood is also denser than hardwoods such as maple and oak. Its thickness vis-à-vis its density affects the freight or shipping costs.
Why should you use bamboo plywood?
Bamboo plywood is so expensive. Why should I use it then? You may wonder.
Bamboo is so flexible that it goes or bends where the wind blows. This flexibility makes bamboo seems like a poor choice as a construction material.
But bamboo plywood is better than hardwood. Here are some reasons why it is an ideal alternative to hardwood.
Bamboo plywood offers flexibility and stability.
It provides structural strength, thanks to its inherent durability. Using traditional woodworking tools, you can plug, sand, screw, and cut bamboo plywood.
It also comes in different sizes and grain types, providing a variety of applications. Such applications include cabinetry, furniture, flooring, and countertop.
Bamboo plywood is renewable.
People can harvest bamboo every 4-6 years. It does not damage the environment or the habitat of animals.
Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It also releases 30% more oxygen than trees.
Trees take decades, even centuries, to mature. In contrast, it only takes a few years for bamboo to grow. Thus, bamboo is the ideal option as a construction or building material.
Bamboo plywood is bamboo sustainable.
Bamboo grows to full maturity in as little as 4-6 years. Bamboo manufacturers can harvest the bamboo yearly without damaging the grove. It is due to its ability to grow new shoots in a short time.
In contrast, hardwood timber takes decades or centuries to reach full maturity. Using bamboo plywood will help ease or decrease the effects of deforestation.
Bamboo plywood is denser and more durable.
Bamboo has a tensile strength of 28,000 pounds per square inch. It makes it more durable than most hardwoods such as maple and oak. It is 25 percent and 12 percent much tougher than Red Oak and North American Maple.
What are the uses of bamboo plywood?
Bamboo plywood is more appealing and a green alternative to hardwood. It comes in varied sizes, grain types, or finished or unfinished looks.
Bamboo plywood is perfect for minor or major projects. Here are some ways to use bamboo plywood.
Bamboo plywood is very appealing as a veneer for bathroom vanities. It is more resistant to moisture. This characteristic prevents bamboo from expanding in the humid environment of a bathroom.
Cabinets are vital features of any kitchen. Bamboo cabinets provide a fresh, more modern look to a kitchen space.
Bamboo plywood is tough and scratch-resistant. It is an ideal material for furniture in spaces such as in offices and restaurants.
Bamboo plywood is durable and water-resistant. It is an ideal flooring choice and is even cheaper than hardwood flooring.
Bamboo plywood is an ideal option for framing or trimming windows, doors, and even mirrors. It is also the best material for baseboards on walls or in sign-making and art.
These spaces come in the form of workspaces, bookcases, of display shelves. Bamboo is durable and lightweight, making it an ideal material for built-ins.
Pocket doors or sliding doors
Common in home settings, this door type hides storage shelves or closets in small areas. It is also ideal where a normal or a bi-fold door will use up valuable space. Bamboo plywood is the best choice for sliding doors and will hide pocket doors.
There are other various uses of bamboo plywood as these bamboo plywood ideas.
Choosing it right
You may be looking at bamboo plywood for some minor or major projects. Here are some steps to ensure that you choose the correct bamboo plywood for your project:
- Talk to your architect. Get specific information such as the size, grain type, and so on.
- Select the right supplier. Ensure that the vendor or supplier sells high-quality materials or products.
- Know the correct grade, thickness, and color. Make sure that you choose or buy the appropriate sheets for your project.
- Estimate the quantity. Make sure that you do an estimate of how many sheets you would need for your project.
In a nutshell, bamboo plywood can be an expensive or cheaper alternative. It depends on its quality or features such as size, grain type, thickness, etc.
Regardless of its cost, bamboo plywood is durable, renewable, and sustainable. It also provides a warm, natural feel to your home or office. It makes bamboo plywood the perfect option for any home or commercial project.