Bamboo – A Greener Home Building Material

When I was a young boy I knew of only one use for bamboo-to make great cane poles for fishing. Bamboo has the wonderful property of being flexible yet strong. The cane pole would bend when a fish was on the line, providing resistance as I was trying to bring in a keeper without having the line break. And the pole would never break. I have some great memories of the many bluegill and crappie I caught while fishing with my father and grandfather as a kid, and of the fantastic fish dinners we enjoyed together as a family afterward.Today, bamboo still makes a great fishing pole, as many kids can attest. But another surprisingly useful application has emerged that is environmentally-friendly and contributes to a greener lifestyle.Bamboo has recently received a lot of attention as a green building material, particularly for flooring, and here is why.Bamboo grows very quickly, making it a rapidly renewable material. Compared to trees, which can take 50 to 100 years to grow to sufficient size, bamboo can be harvested every five or six years. There are 10 to 20 cycles of bamboo harvests in the time it takes for a hardwood tree to mature, which means bamboo provides more building material in the same period of time. And the fast growth means a more rapid uptake of carbon dioxide and release of oxygen, with benefits to the environment.Another amazing green advantage of bamboo is that it does not need to be replanted, like a hardwood tree. After being cut, bamboo will re-grow, on its own, in the same place. Being a self-regenerating plant is a major benefit.Although bamboo is classified as a grass rather than a wood, it surprisingly strong and durable, and it wears very well as a flooring material. When used to produce flooring, bamboo is stacked in layers and glued together to produce sections like any other floor tile or board. Thus, it can be used in construction like other engineered woods, and it can be stained or finished like any other wood, producing a beautiful appearance as well.Consider using bamboo as a floor covering material the next time you are remodeling your home (or building new). The cost is similar to that for other wood flooring, and you will have the knowledge that your beautiful new flooring came at a lower environmental cost.