September 13, 2010 | bfeldman | Uncategorized

Materials Research – Bamboo

We are almost complete with Stinson Morrison Hecker‘s new offices in the Clayton.  They will be moving in at the beginning of October.  Currently the space is filled with furniture installers and audio-visual technicians, but soon they’ll be done and the activity will level off.

One of the recurring materials in the space is Bamboo paneling.  Fox has been using bamboo flooring for years – this is the first project we’ve used the material for paneling and casework.   It’s a great looking product, but there are some things to understand when designing with bamboo.

Bamboo paneling detail
Bamboo paneling detail

Because bamboo is a grass, it’s composed of long, straight bundles – the “grain’ that you see in typical paneling is very straight, similar to quartersawn woods. Like the meduliary rays in quartersawn oak, bamboo has “rays” throughout where the sections of the bamboo grow.  The effect can be very pronounced, or barely visible.

Unlike the wood veneer products we typically specify, the bamboo paneling was set up as a “solid” bamboo product, with staggered layers glued into a panel product.    We specified our bamboo paneling unfinished and selected a stain to work with our palette.

Bamboo grows very fast – 3 to 5 years to harvest vs. 30 – 50 years for many hardwoods.  Bamboo flooring is harder (measured on the Janka hardness scale) than oak or maple.

Installing bamboo flooring - edge grain next to flat grain
Installing bamboo flooring - edge grain next to flat grain

We used product from Smith and Fong – it’s FSC certified and uses no urea formaldehyde in the manufacturing process.  There are many other manufacturers to choose from.  Although we had some issues with keeping the stain consistent from the flat grain of the panel to the side grain (most noticeable at door edges on some of the cabinets), all in all it’s a great product.   I am certain we’ll be specifying more bamboo in future work.

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