Most people are familiar with the tropical look, and the rustic style bamboo furniture. There are literally hundreds of furniture producers making everything from couches to coffee tables to luxurious covered beds using this method of furniture building. Even though you may have grown up with this style or it’s what you are most accustomed to seeing in the stores, you may have been drawn to bamboo furniture by the newer, more finished bamboo furniture hitting the market. Here are a few basics about fine furniture made with bamboo.
Color: Furniture made from bamboo is available in three colors. The shade referred to as natural bamboo is akin to the light color of maple. That’s the color of bamboo that has been manufactured into furniture without utilizing any techniques to alter its natural appearance. The other shade is carbonized bamboo. Carbonized bamboo is the result of a pressurized steaming process that brings out a darker shade in the stalk. The carbonization process creates primarily two colors, caramelized and espresso. The natural sugars in the bamboo caramelize under heat, just like heating sugar on your stove to create a caramelized substance. The more heat and pressure produces a darker color.
Composition: The smooth solid look of fine furniture is accomplished by cutting the bamboo stalk (bamboo is actually a grass, not a tree, hence a stalk, not a trunk) into small, narrow strips and then the knots are ground off and the strips are put through a boiling tank to remove any insects. Then they are put through the carbonization process. Next they are kiln dried for several days. The strips are then finely planed so they are ready to be bonded together. Then they are glued together to produce large planks and boards. Then the planks are put into a heat and pressure hydraulic press to create a bond that it makes the bamboo stronger then wood. Depending on which face is used, the end result is bamboo plywood or vertical grain bamboo planks.
Durability/Cost: Moso bamboo is the best species to use to make fine bamboo furniture. The hardness of this bamboo is what is really amazing about this furniture. Bamboo is actually harder and more durable than oak. Because of the process bamboo goes through it makes it a little more expensive. But it will cost you less than most comparable furniture made from hardwoods such as oak, maple, and cherry.
The other reason customers are drawn to bamboo is its well-earned reputation as a green, eco-friendly material. Bamboo grows faster and can be harvested a lot more frequently than trees. Therefore, it doesn’t need to be re-planted after each harvest since it will just send up new shoots. In other words, bamboo plantations can continually harvest the same stand of bamboo every few years, without harming the plant (it’s like mowing your lawn). Once you cut down an oak tree, however, it’s gone forever.
Buying fine bamboo furniture you’ll be getting one of the strongest, most durable and beautiful pieces of furniture you’ve ever had. And you’ll also be investing in a piece of furniture that you can enjoy with good conscience for years to come.