Bamboo furniture

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Bamboo is used to make a variety of eco-friendly furniture, ranging from chairs and tables, sofas and loveseats, cabinets, dressers and entertainment centers. It may be used in two ways -- as plywood or in its original cane form. Used correctly, bamboo plywood is strong, durable, and may be used to create all sorts of furniture. Bamboo canes are slightly malleable, and have been traditionally used to make cane furniture. Some varieties may even be stripped and woven, much like wicker.

Why should I be aware of this?

  • Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and it has the capacity to readily replenish itself after reaping, provided that it is properly harvested. It can actually grow about 4 feet in under 24 hours! [1] [1].
  • It is thus, an eco-friendly alternative to hardwoods, and is recognized as a green material under LEED. Where oak takes 120 years to grow to maturity, bamboo can be harvested in three.
  • Bamboo has a very high tensile strength and once properly cured and treated is very durable.
  • It has a fine, delicate grain, whether natural or amber-toned, making it a distinctive, elegant, and subtle material for fine furniture.

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Characteristics of bamboo furniture

  • Durability: Bamboo furniture can withstand everyday use. It is far more resistant to damage than traditional hardwoods. Bamboo is even used in cutting boards for this reason; it can take the beating of repeated knife use and still remain beautiful, and bamboo is gentler on knife blades than other woods. *Resistance to swelling and shrinking: Bamboo furniture won't swell or shrink due to atmospheric changes.
  • Strength: Bamboo's tensile strength is 28,000 per square inch versus 23,000 for steel. Bamboo fibers are also used to strengthen composite materials. The key to bamboo's strength is that it grows straight; no other trees grow as straight as bamboo. There are "knuckles," but these variances are consistent and dense and don't weaken the bamboo's structure. When laminated, bamboo's strength is enhanced, and the lamination provides another layer against the wear and tear of use.
  • Selection: Bamboo home furniture comes in more varieties of styles and finishes than before. Furniture designers are using bamboo in innovative designs, either in all-bamboo or composite materials.
  • Appearance: Bamboo has a fine grain and is available in many stains and finishes

Making bamboo plywood

Bamboo stalks, or culms, are hollow. First they are split lengthwise into strips. These strips are then boiled in a bath of boric acid and lime solution. The purpose of this bath is to extract the starch that attracts termites and powder post beetles. Boric acid and lime are a natural non-toxic repellent, used to insure that our products will come to you pest free and will continue to be so throughout the duration of their product life.

The strips are kiln dried and sanded to a smooth surface for laminating. They are then laminated edge to edge to create a single-ply panel. These panels are then laminated again to each other to create multi-ply bamboo plywood.

Bamboo furniture and environment

Bamboo as a furniture material is unique in that it is actually a grass. It is one of the world's fastest growing sustainable raw materials, and an eco-friendly alternative to teak and other hardwoods conventionally used to make furniture.

However, it is important to consider where and how the bamboo used to make furniture has been grown. Bamboo often runs the risk of becoming a monoculture. Natural forests in the vicinity of bamboo plantations have sometimes given way to bamboo as a result of deliberate efforts to replace them or because of the vigorous natural expansion of bamboo in logged over forests. This process has also had a negative impact on biodiversity. The intensive management practices employed involve manual or chemical weeding and periodic tilling of the land to keep the soil clear of undergrowth. These practices increase erosion and result in single-species plantations over large areas. The intensive use of chemicals (pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers) [associated with growing bamboo] also affects the environment.

What can I do about it?

Tips for choosing good bamboo furniture

  • Look for furniture with real bamboo and not just bamboo look-alikes.
  • Look for furniture that states it is made with sustainable bamboo (bamboo grown and harvested naturally that remains sustainable).
  • If furniture includes bamboo veneers, check to see that the glue used is non-toxic.
  • Look for bamboo furniture using water-based stains.

How to maintain it

Bamboo furniture can last a long time if it is receives the proper care. Many antique pieces of bamboo furniture look as good today as they did on the showroom floor. Here are some maintenance tips --

  • Dust regularly with a dry dust cloth or rag, or the dust tool on the vacuum cleaner.
  • Keep bamboo furniture out of direct sunlight. If possible, don't leave it outside for extended periods of time.
  • Put a couple drops of dish soap into a half gallon of water. Mix in two or three teaspoons ammonia. Dip a sponge into this cleaning mixture and wring it out well.
  • Wipe down the bamboo furniture with the soapy water and ammonia mixture. Use an old toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach spots.
  • Rinse with clean water. Make sure to remove all the soapy mixture. Dry the furniture by setting it outside to air dry or by using a hair dryer on it.
  • Smooth any rough areas on the bamboo furniture with fine grit sandpaper. Once you have the area smooth, use paste wax to seal the bamboo.
  • Add shine to your bamboo furniture with linseed oil. Rub the oil into the bamboo furniture, and then carefully wipe off the excess.
  • Take care not to sit on the bamboo furniture any time it's wet. Sitting on wet bamboo can cause it to stretch and sag. So when the furniture is damp from cleaning, put the furniture so no one accidentally sits on it.


  • Bamboo culm stalks can also be used as building materials, if they are filled with concrete and bolted.


See Also


  • Maintaining Bamboo Furniture
  • Buying Guide