The Beauty of Bamboo Plywood

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Bamboo Plywood Cabinetry

At Ambient we are always trying to source only the highest quality materials for our customers, including bamboo plywood products in a variety of colors and grains.   This is an ideal and green alternative to natural hardwood plywood and is becoming increasingly popular with homeowners, woodwork enthusiasts and builders across the US.   It is used in wall paneling, furniture, cabinetry, toys, worktops and butcher’s blocks.

It’s no surprise that bamboo plywood is currently considered one of the safest, most durable and sustainable products on the market. Whether you are a homeowner who is looking for the perfect counter top or a builder who wants a flexible new alternative to natural wood, there’s plenty to choose from when it comes to this versatile material.

Take a look at our current range of bamboo plywood panels in natural, carbonized and tiger/zebra finishes in a variety of thicknesses from quarter inch to one and a half inch panels.

What is Bamboo Plywood?

Bamboo plywood is made from one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. Bamboo is a grass which grows quickly even in low grade soil which means it can be planted almost anywhere.   Thin rectangular strips of bamboo are aligned in different designs and then laminated together (vertical edge grain or horizontal flat grain), or woven and then compressed together under extreme heat and pressure (strand woven), to create smooth unfinished milled sheets/panels.

Types of Bamboo Plywood

There are thousands of different types of bamboo in the world but not all are suitable for making into building products like bamboo plywood. The most common source is from fast growing Moso Bamboo which can be fashioned in various ways to make products such as natural and carbonized plywood with vertical or horizontal grains depending on the manufacturing process. The key to the color of bamboo is in the heating – when it is first harvested and prepared the material is a light shade but when heat is applied it darkens to various degrees. Colors like tiger, also called zebra and neapolitan, are the result of mixing natural and carbonized bamboo together in a process that results in strand woven (compressed) bamboo.

Bamboo plywood comes in a number of different styles based on a combination of three main factors:

Grain.  This refers to the appearance of the surface of the plywood.  The most common grains are vertical, horizontal and strand woven.  Vertical and horizontal are used most often in modern designs while the strand woven grain looks more like traditional wood.

Color.  Bamboo plywood is available in several colors and can also be custom-stained.   The three main colors are natural (blonde), carbonized (brown/honey), and tiger (neopolitan/zebra/marbled) which is a combination of natural and carbonized.

Thickness.  Bamboo plywood comes in sheets that are as thin as 1/4″ and goes all the way up to 1 & 1/2″ in thickness.  The 1 & 1/2″ thick panels are most often used for countertops and butcher block type furniture.

 

Bamboo Products and Sustainability

One of the key factors in the uptake of bamboo as a building material, of course, has been its sustainability. This fast growing grass is self-renewing because when it is cut down it regrows in place using the existing root structure. Farming methods are also much greener than some others and areas of forestation can be cut down by hand rather than using fossil fuel hungry machines.

Factories are usually pretty close to the plantations which means the fuel burned by transporting the bamboo is cut down considerably. Various methods are used to create bamboo plywood and different grades and thickness can be easily produced that are hardy enough to be used in areas such as building and furniture manufacture.


More and more building companies and retailers in the US are searching for ever sustainable ways to operate and that includes looking at the materials they use. For these industries, bamboo plywood presents a way to produce eco-friendly and attractive products and source important constituent materials for other uses such as furniture manufacture.

The Benefits of Bamboo Plywood

There are numerous reasons why bamboo plywood is becoming increasingly popular in the US and is being used as a substitute for traditional hardwood.

  • First of all, it is an attractive wood product that can be used to create a variety of different things from wall paneling, furniture and countertops to smaller items such as kitchen utensils.
  • It’s durable and as easy to mill as normal wood and can be cut and shaped as required.
  • It’s multi-layered manufacturing process provides additional stability which makes it resistant to warping. This helps make it easier to mill and enhances it’s longevity.
  • Purchasing a reputable brand ensures low formaldehyde emissions and is considered healthy for the environment. Many states are now beginning to introduce legislation that limits the effects of formaldehyde in respect to composite woods, something that has worried the industry for some time.
  • It is produced and manufactured in a sustainable manner which makes it one of the greenest building materials on the planet. The production of bamboo plywood provides valuable jobs for many outlying communities who depend on its income, particularly in areas where the soil is not conducive to other farming practices.
  • It’s strong and suitable for a wide range of building jobs while also being highly attractive once finished. There’s more to bamboo than just flooring and the different colors and thicknesses that can be produced make it a versatile material for many homes and businesses.

Bamboo has been used in most parts of Asia for the last 4,000 years, including China, and is an integral part of the culture. It’s been used to build bridges, make scaffolding, create homes, for use in furniture and a host of other things primarily because of the strength and the ease of growing it along with cheap production costs. Finding bamboo products in countries such as the US or Europe used to be difficult as it was considered a luxury but it is now one of the most widely available materials in the world.

According to the New York Times, the difference between bamboo and hardwood is incredible:

“Cut down a hardwood tree and it’s gone. It will take several decades for another to grow in its place; it can take a century for a forest to grow back after cutting. But bamboo is a grass, not a tree. Under the right conditions, it can grow a full meter a day — you can literally watch it grow.”

Bamboo plywood has all the benefits of traditional oak or pine which makes it ideal for shelving, cabinets, cupboards, counter-tops, desks and anything else you can think of. It acts just like ordinary wood when it is cut, shaved, sanded and stained and looks great when finished with less harmful emissions compared to other composite woods.

Bamboo Plywood Furniture

One of the areas where bamboo plywood comes into its own is furniture making. If you want gorgeous finishes that add a touch of class to any cabinet or table, then changing from hardwood to this sustainable material is something you won’t regret. From tallboys and cabinets to chairs and tables there are a number of mainstream retailers now stocking a wide range of bamboo plywood furniture that look as good, if not better, than traditional wood products.

If you have the necessary cabinet making skills or are a professional carpenter, then swapping to bamboo plywood is an excellent option. You get great wood products that can be handled with conventional woodworking tools and methods to create luxurious products that look as stylish as any on the market. And if you are just an enthusiastic hobbyist or burgeoning furniture designer there a variety of high quality bamboo plywood products on the market that will give you plenty of options.

Counter-tops and Kitchen Cupboards

One area in which bamboo plywood is making an impact is in the kitchen where it can be used for everything from cupboards to hard wearing and durable kitchen tops. If you prefer the wood effect to options such as marble or composite stone, opting for bamboo plywood is the perfect solution for your kitchen. It can be easily fabricated to any design and is relatively simple to maintain while looking superb once properly finished. At Ambient we produce panels up to 1½ inch thickness that make for impressive and sturdy counter-tops.

When considering whether you want counter-tops made from this material you need to be aware that it has certain characteristics.

  • There are 3 different grain types: vertical, horizontal and strand woven, that all offer a slightly different appearance.
  • The strand woven grain is composed of compressed bamboo, and it is 3 times harder than the vertical or horizontal grain types
  • Typically with bamboo plywood, there is an “A/Front” side and a “B/Back” side to the panel, with the “A” or “front” side being consistent in color and the “B” or “back” side being less consistent.
  • As with something like marble, no two panels of bamboo plywood are the same which means you get a unique counter-top that is different from any other in the world.
  • Darker colored woods can also be found by choosing carbonized bamboo rather than natural.

With all types of counter surfaces there are pros and cons to consider. With bamboo or wood plywood you get a durable and eco-friendly surface that will show character over time and gets better with age. With a fairly moderate price point you also get something that is uniquely attractive and lends a certain amount of stylishness to your kitchen.

There are a few cons of course: You should be aware that you will probably need to carry out some regular maintenance such as resealing the surfaces every so often. Having said that, the pros far outweigh the cons which is why many more people are starting to use this bamboo plywood in their kitchens.

 

bambookitchencabinetsmadefromplywood

Sleek Bamboo Cabinets in the Carbonized Vertical Style

 

Wall Panels

You may have noticed many hotels and fine resorts using wood wall paneling in their cutting edge interior design.  Many of these deisgners are choosing bamboo for it’s clean lines, minimalist appearance and sleek beauty, not to mention it’s eco-friendliness.   Think wood paneling was only used in home construction in the 70′s?  It’s back!  This look went out of fashion for a while but has started to come back and is a great way to add a good touch of elegance to your home, whether it be in the kitchen, study or the bedroom as an accent wall or as a full on wall decorating choice. The material is durable enough to last a long time and withstand the rigors of the busiest household and the colors available can transform a room.

Butcher’s Blocks

If you want something that’s hard and good for cutting up your Sunday slab of meat, bamboo plywood butcher’s blocks are ideal. They’re also pretty impressive, available in different sizes and last a lifetime if looked after properly. Butcher’s blocks aren’t the only kitchen product that are made from the world’s greenest material. There are spoons and spatulas, containers, bowls and plates, all of which could add that something extra to your home.

The type of bamboo plywood used makes a big difference to the durability of any product. As a general rule vertical or end grains and strand bamboo are harder than horizontal grain. For butcher block counter-tops the obvious choice is normally end grain bamboo plywood which offers strength and longevity to cope with most kitchen tasks.

Formaldehyde Emissions and Bamboo Plywood

Make sure your supplier provides testing documents related to their bamboo plywood and formaldehyde showing that their products are safe.  One of the issues that is currently worrying state legislators is how to reduce the level of formaldehyde emissions produced by composite wood products. Bamboo plywood produces much lower levels than other wood products on the market which is another reason why they are becoming more popular. According to the Wall Street Journal this is convincing many eco-conscious retailers to produce safer products made from materials such as bamboo plywood:

“California will begin limiting the formaldehyde emissions permitted from composite wood products commonly used in kitchen cabinets; the World Health Organization classifies formaldehyde as a carcinogen, and it’s been linked to respiratory problems like asthma. That is fueling interest in eco-oriented cabinet lines like Neil Kelly and Breathe Easy, and sparking mainstream brands to go greener.”

Bamboo Plywood from Ambient

At Ambient we make a big thing about choosing high quality products that our customers can depend on and our plywood is no different. Sourced from the best manufacturers and delivered straight to your door, we provide products in various thicknesses, colors and compositions that come with our usual guarantee of quality. Whether you are looking for carbonized or natural, thick or thin, we have the bamboo plywood products you are looking for.



Categories: Green Living, Home Maintenance, Interior Decorating

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