Eco-Friendly Construction: Bamboo as a Construction Material

Bamboo is one amongst the oldest, traditionally used construction materials. However, with the advancement in technology, the use of this wonderful material has been minimalized. Bamboo Construction is one of the most eco-friendly, economical, renewable, as well as abundantly available at various locations. Moreover, with the changing climate and depleting forest resources, cultured bamboo can also act as a perfect alternative for timber. Treated bamboo can replace a whole lot of non-eco-friendly construction materials, even RCC. Therefore, it is time to spread the word and increase the usage of this magical construction material, wherever it can be sourced locally. Let us try to learn in detail, the properties as well as the uses of Bamboo as a construction material.

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Why Use Bamboo as a construction material?
Construction has become of the most expensive as well as polluting amenities which cannot be avoided. Each and every person around the world do require shelter, and thus, Bamboo construction can emerge as one of the most eco-friendly as well as most effective construction modes. Below mentioned are some of the points that qualify Bamboo as one of the most perfect construction materials around the world:

  • One of the fastest-growing natural construction material.
  • Easily available at most of the location and one of the most eco-friendly construction materials.
  • Perfectly suitable to replace steel,, concrete as well as any other kind of masonry.
  • One of the most cost-effective materials and easy to work with.
  • Enormously elastic, therefore, can be bent to achieve the desired shape, alongside being earthquake resistant.
  • Locally available at a number of places, thus, allows to carry forward the long-lasting traditions as well as the vernacular architecture of the very places.
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Basic Properties of Bamboo as a Construction Material:
Bamboo is essentially used in construction as a structural frame technique, where the floor, walls, as well as the roof, are interconnected to each other and rely on one another for complete stability.

Let us know the important structural qualities of Bamboo which qualify it as one of the most prominent naturally existing construction material.

1. Tensile Strength: Bamboo possesses really high tensile strength. Just to compare, treated Bamboo can resist more tension than steel, however, it becomes impossible to transfer the same through due to lack of proper connectivity. However, the high tensile strength allows it to be used as strong columns and walls for buildings.
2. Elasticity: Bamboo is highly elastic in nature. More the elasticity of the Bamboo, better it is for construction. Its elastic nature allows it to be bent and used in any shape, alongside, providing the structure with an earthquake-resistant nature.
3. Shrinkage: Bamboo has high water content. The cross-section of Bamboo can shrink up to 16-17% post losing water content. It is very important to treat Bamboo properly and get rid of the excess water content before using it for construction purpose.
4. Fire Resistance: High content of silicate acid in bamboos allow it to be highly fire-resistant. Bamboo can withstand temperatures of up to 400 degree Celsius, thus making it a perfect material to be used in construction.

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How to use Bamboo in Construction?

Let us know about the various components of a building where Bamboo can be used as an alternative to conventional building materials:

1.Trusses/Roof Structure: Bamboo has high strength, comparable to Sal and Teak. Therefore, Bamboo can be easily used for constructing roof trusses, using Bamboo rafters and purlins.

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2. Walls: Being a lightweight material with high flexibility, Bamboo acts as a perfect material to be used for making walls. The elastic property of Bamboo allows the structure to be earthquake resistant. Moreover, in case of natural disaster, Bamboo can be reused without causing major loss of property as well as human lives. Some of the most common ways of erecting Bamboo Walls is as mentioned below:

  • Half Split Bamboo strips nailed to a Bamboo frame.
  • Bamboo mats fastened over Bamboo posts/columns, cladding with mud to provide better insulation.
  • Cement and Lime Plaster can also be used for covering Bamboo and Mud for a better finish. Always remember that Bamboo laid in a vertical position is always more durable than Bamboo laid down in horizontal position.
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3. Doors/Windows: Bamboo can easily replace timber for door frame as well as window frames. In addition, bamboo mat shutters and bamboo panels can be used to cover the frame.

4. Scaffoldings: Bamboo can easily replace metal scaffoldings and has also been used for the construction process as scaffoldings as well as horizontal planks which are highly required during any high rise construction process.

5. Foundations: Bamboo can also be used for laying out building foundation, but only after proper treatment as contact with moisture can lead to its rotting or development of fungi. Bamboo can be used in the following ways for foundations:

  • Connected together and laid down in direct contact with the ground.
  • Bamboo fixed with rocks or concrete footings.
  • Bamboo as Piles.
  • Composite Bamboo Columns.

5. Flooring: Bamboo frames, as well as mats, can also be used for flooring. Moreover, their insulating nature allows the floors to be ward during the winters and cooler during the summers, thus acting as a perfect flooring material too.

Advantages of using Bamboo as a Construction Material:

  • Bamboo is highly elastic, thus can bend into any shape and also acts as an earthquake-resistant material.
  • The lightweight of the material allows it to be easily used during construction.
  • Being a natural material, it does not trigger any adverse effect to human health, unlike other construction materials. It is one of the most cost-effective materials where it is locally available.
  • It can be reused a number of times to construct and reconstruct.
  • Bamboo which is suitable for construction can be cultured as fast as within 3-6 years, thus making it one of the most eco-friendly construction materials.

Cons of using Bamboo as a Construction Material:

  • Bamboo needs to be properly treated before using it as a construction material. It can shrink hugely after losing its water content.
  • It needs to be preserved even after being used for construction to avoid insects and fungus.
  • Creating durable joints with bamboo is really tough. Therefore, creating huge structures with Bamboo can affect structural stability if jointing is not done properly.