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What Is Bamboo Lumber?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Unlike other types of lumber that are made from various types of wood, bamboo lumber is made from the bamboo plant, which is actually a type of grass. The bamboo material is usually compressed into sheets that can be made into pieces of lumber, which is a term generally used to describe wood in any stage of processing from felling to finishing. Bamboo lumber is a popular choice for various applications, though this type of lumber can be somewhat expensive. Bamboo is a renewable resource, which means this type of lumber tends to be fairly eco-friendly.

Bamboo lumber can be used for a variety of building projects. Pieces of bamboo can be secured together to create cutting boards, which is a popular practice because bamboo tends to be naturally resistant to microbial growth, and it is resistant to scratching and pitting from cuts. Bamboo flooring is also very popular in some areas of the world, though it is important to research the various characteristics of bamboo lumber before choosing it as the material for hardwood floors. As the bamboo gains or loses moisture, it can begin to shift and buckle, so it is generally not the best flooring choice for exceptionally moist climates or climates that change throughout the year.

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Load-bearing structures can be made from bamboo lumber, though this is rare because bamboo can be expensive. Bamboo is a fairly attractive choice for lumber as well, which means it is best used for applications that will be visible; framing is often hidden by drywall or other structures, which means the bamboo would be hidden from view. Since it is not a cost-effective choice for framing, it is usually used for making visually appealing objects instead, such as furniture, countertops, paneling, cabinets, and sometimes veneers.

Harvesting bamboo for bamboo lumber must be done properly to ensure maximum strength. This harvesting is usually done at a particular time of year, and at a time when the bamboo is at a period of growth when sugar levels are at their lowest. The presence of sugar can increase the likelihood of bug and pest infestations, which can in turn lead to rot, cracking, splitting, or other types of damage. The bamboo must also be leached of its sap after harvesting, which can be a tricky process. Water is often run over and through the bamboo for an extended period of time to promote leaching, then the bamboo must be properly dried to avoid splitting.

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