Bamboo is a versatile and sustainable building material that has been used for centuries in various parts of the world. It is a fast-growing and renewable resource that is lightweight, strong, and durable. Bamboo can be used for a wide range of applications, from flooring and wall panels to scaffolding and furniture.
Additionally, bamboo has natural antimicrobial properties, making it an ideal material for use in humid or tropical environments. As the world becomes more focused on sustainable building practices, the use of bamboo as a building material has gained popularity due to its eco-friendliness, affordability, and versatility.
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Benefits of Using Bamboo in Construction
Bamboo is a quintessential sustainable material that surpasses all other contemporary building materials. It’s an expediently renewable resource that can grow up to 91 cm in a single day, making it a highly renewable option. Moreover, after harvesting, bamboo regrows from its root system, obviating the need for replanting. Additionally, bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide and releases more oxygen into the atmosphere than trees, making it an effective carbon sink.
Contrary to its lightweight, bamboo is an immensely sturdy and durable material. It possesses a tensile strength that surpasses even steel, making it an ideal material for construction projects. Furthermore, bamboo’s inherent properties make it resistant to pests, rot, and mildew, thereby enhancing its lifespan.
Affordability Bamboo is a cost-effective solution for construction in comparison to traditional building materials such as steel and concrete. It’s readily available, easy to harvest and transport, and doesn’t require sophisticated machinery for processing. Besides, using bamboo in construction can bolster local communities that rely on the plant for their livelihood.
Property of Bamboo as Construction Material
Bamboo is a family of bambusoideae, and bamboo’s growth character is divided into types: monopodial and sympodial bamboo. Monopodial bamboo roots spread horizontally in shallow depths of soil where the new shoots are produced at a relatively long distance from the parents’ plant.
Sympodial bamboo roots grow very close to the parents’ plant, forming a clump of many stems or canes, majority of bamboo found in India are sympodial rhizomes.
Bamboo rods are round, segmented, jointed, and hollow. Bamboo culm consists of 50% parenchyma, 40% fiber, and 10% conducting tissue which indicates that as a construction material, bamboo has a very strong fiber.
- The compressive strength of bamboo is at least twice of concrete.
- The tensile strength of bamboo (28KN/sq.in) is close to steel (23KN/sq.in).
- The shear stress of bamboo fiber is higher than wood, with an even wider span than wood.
- Curving bamboo is possible without breaking or damage.
- The high elasticity of bamboo makes it useful as a building material in areas of high risk of earthquakes.
- The anisotropic property of bamboo, i.e., possesses cellulose fiber in the longitudinal direction making it strong and stiff while lignin in the transverse direction makes it soft and brittle.
- The fire resistance of bamboo is good, can withstand a temperature of 400°C
Besides the advantageous property of bamboo, bamboo is vulnerable to termites and fungal attacks.
So, it is preserved using borax boric acid solution through several techniques, such as immersion, gravitational or vertical soak diffusion, and injection using a compressor machine. Moreover, borax acid is capable to extend the life span of bamboo. Apart from this,
- Bamboo shrinks by 10-16% in cross-section and has a wall thickness of 15-17% which is more than wood when loses water. Measures are taken to prevent water loss when used as a building material.
- Prone to rapidly catch fire by the friction among the culms during wind(in the forest).
- Jointing- although many jointing techniques exist, their structural efficiency is low.
- Untreated bamboo structures can hardly survive with an expected life of a maximum of 5 years.
“Organic form forms that have been generated or created or inspired by natural forms in nature, whose adaption generates irregular geometrics.”
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Purpose of Bamboo at Different Age
|2-3 years||Bamboo Boards or Laminations|
|6-12 years||Gradually loses strength|
Uses of Bamboo In Building Construction
The organic form of bamboo has been used in almost all parts of house construction except for the fireplace and the chimneys. The different Use of bamboo in construction are given below,
Timber in contact with damp ground gets deteriorate and decay, so for foundation purpose preservative measures are essential. Different types of bamboo foundations identified are:
Bamboo In Direct Ground Contact
In this type, bamboo is placed either on the surface or buried. Strength and stability are assured either by using large-diameter and thick-walled sections of bamboo with closely spaced nodes or where such bamboos are not available – smaller sections can be tied together.
In addition, preservative treatment is recommended as it can decay within 6 months to 2 years.
Bamboo On Rock Or Preformed Concrete Footings
Here, in this foundation, the bamboo is being used for bearings after placing the largest and stiffest section of bamboo is placed out of ground contact on footings of either rock or preformed concrete.
Composite Bamboo-Concrete Columns
Here, in this foundation, the durability of the foundation is enhanced by providing a concrete extension to a bamboo post using a plastic tube of the same diameter.
To stabilize sift soils and reduce building settlement – treated split bamboo piles were filled with coconut coir strands wrapped with jute and these sections were then tied with wire. Finally, after the installation of the piles, the area was covered with sandy material.
The floor is raised above the ground creating a stilt type of construction that provides a covered storage area below the floor. The surface of the earth’s floor can stabilize by paving it with crude bamboo boards made by opening and flattening whole culms. The various types of bamboo used are:
Bamboo is extensively used in walls and partitions where the posts and beams are the structural frameworks, that carry the self-weight of building and moving loads.
An infill between framing members not only completes the wall but also serves the purpose of protecting against rain, wind, and animals, offering privacy and stability to the overall structure to compete against horizontal forces.
4. Doors and Windows
Bamboo frames can be substituted in place of timber frames of the appropriate function. Reed boards are reeds pressed flat at high temperatures, usually used in the elements like flooring, walls, ceiling and roofing, partitions, doors, and windows.
For doors, hinging the bamboo mat shutters fixed to the bamboo frame – to the wall or a panel of bamboo board fixed to the frame – to the wall. For windows, small frames of bamboo can be hinged to the top of the wall.
The bamboo structure of a roof comprises purlins, rafters & trusses because it is strong, resilient & light-weighted.
Bamboo purlin and beams supported on perimeter posts are the simplest forms. The first layer of halved culms is laid on a convex side down, edge-to-edge, spanning from the ridge to the eaves. The second layer, opposite to that is laid convex side up, to cover the joints.
Corrugated sheets made of bamboo have been used as a roof covering where, bamboo is generally dipped in resin, dried, and heated under pressure in a platen to enhance the property of bamboo, for instance, strong, reliable, and lightweight sheets( assuring good insulation properties).
A layer of bitumen sandwiched between two mats of bamboo forms a semi-rigid panel, fixed at an interval of 200-250mm, followed by a finishing of bituminous or rubberized weatherproof coating.
6. Plaster Bamboo
A cement plaster, with or without organic fiber is applied to bamboo roofs, to get a strong roof covering. Trusses of bamboo culms of diameter 40mm-100mm are also adopted(usually king post trusses).
Due to the excellent load-bearing capacity and weight of bamboo, it is used in the construction of scaffoldings even for tall buildings where only lashed joints are used.
The cane extension has been carried out by lashing the cane ends together with several ties in such a way that forces act vertically downwards and wedges the nodes in the lashing. Soft lashing is exclusively used to join the vertical and horizontal canes.
The benefit of such a technique is that the joints can be re-tensioned to the right degree without difficulty and can also be quickly released again.
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Challenges of Using Bamboo in Construction
Treatment and Preservation
One of the challenges of using bamboo in construction is the treatment and preservation process. Bamboo needs to be treated to prevent decay, insect infestation, and fungal growth. The most common treatment method involves immersing bamboo in boron solution, which is a natural and non-toxic chemical. However, this process can be time-consuming and requires specialized equipment.
Another challenge of using bamboo in construction is its fire resistance. While bamboo is naturally fire-resistant, it is not entirely fireproof. To improve its fire resistance, bamboo can be treated with fire-retardant chemicals or coated with fire-resistant materials.
Bamboo is a sustainable, durable, and cost-effective building material that offers a wide range of applications in modern architecture. Its natural properties make it an eco-friendly alternative to traditional building materials, and its versatility makes it a popular choice among architects and designers worldwide.
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Is bamboo stronger than wood?
Yes, bamboo is stronger than wood in terms of tensile strength, making it an ideal material for structural purposes.
Can bamboo be used for outdoor furniture?
Yes, bamboo is a durable and weather-resistant material, making it suitable for outdoor furniture.
How long does bamboo last?
Bamboo can last up to 20 years or more with proper treatment and maintenance.
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