If you’re buying a new home or renovating your current kitchen, you’re probably busy exploring all your options. A very important element in any kitchen is the wood you use.
There’s a wide variety of hardwoods or bamboo to choose from. And while bamboo may not be as common as popular hardwood, it may be your best bet for cabinets, flooring and so much more. Here’s why.
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Why bamboo is better
Bamboo isn’t a tree. Instead, it’s part of the grass family, and boy, does it grow quickly. In fact, in just one day, it can grow up to eight feet.
The use of bamboo in home interiors is nothing new. It’s been a favorite in Asian and African cultures for hundreds of years. Bamboo is still used today, and it’s also in high demand.
Bamboo is sustainable and environmentally friendly
Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the environment and doesn’t require pesticides, chemicals, fertilizers or a lot of water. In fact, it’s one of the top renewable natural resources on the planet right now. Therefore, it provides a quick and ready source of building materials.
Additionally, the harvesting method for bamboo is not as harmful to the environment as gathering hardwood. One reason for this is that it can be harvested without killing the plant, and the forest can regrow within three to seven years.
Another benefit of bamboo is that it can help prevent soil erosion, while also reducing carbon dioxide as it releases about 35 decent more oxygen into the atmosphere compared with trees of the same size.
While all of these bamboo facts are great, does that mean bamboo is a good kitchen material?
Why would you want bamboo flooring? For one thing, bamboo is slightly more water resistant than hardwood materials. However, in it’s raw and natural state, bamboo will still absorb liquids.
Therefore, even though it’s less absorbent than other hardwood floors, it still requires a sealant to protect it from spills and stains. This sealant is usually a polyurethane, although wax is sometimes applied as well. Typically, bamboo is pre-sealed before it’s installed in residential homes.
Thanks to the strong fibers within bamboo, it’s a higher-quality material compared to hardwood. So, depending on the type of bamboo and how it is harvested and manufactured, it can be incredibly strong and durable.
Just to give you an idea of how bamboo compares to hardwood floors, here’s a breakdown of basic Janka wood hardness ratings for several, comparable flooring options:
• Pinewood: 600 – 900 HR
• Firwood: 600 – 900 HR
• Black Cherry: 950 HR
• Carbonized bamboo: 1,000 – 1,100 HR
• Black walnut: 1,010 HR
• Oak: 1,290 HR
• Natural bamboo: 1,300 -1,400 hardness rating (HR)
• Maple: 1,450 HR
• Red Walnut: 2,500 – 3,500 HR
• Brazilian Teak: 2,500 – 3,500 HR
As you can see, bamboo may not rate as high as red walnut or Brazilian teak wood, but it’s still durable, and a competitive option for kitchen flooring.
If you prefer darker-colored bamboo, just be aware that the darkening process, called carbonization, places the bamboo under high pressure and temperatures. This changes the shade of the bamboo, but it also weakens its durability.
Finally, bamboo flooring can be susceptible to scratches and dents. And since kitchens are usually a very high-action area, it doesn’t take long for bamboo flooring to get nicked up pretty quickly.
So, if you do choose bamboo flooring, it’s important that any tables or chairs have padding underneath to prevent gouges and marks.
Bamboo is a great option for kitchen cabinets, especially if you prefer a modern and fresh interior. Bamboo is naturally light in color and gives kitchens an open and clean aesthetic. Using bamboo offers you a nice break from traditional hardwood kitchen furniture.
As long as they’re treated properly, they are long wearing and durable, and can hold up to the demands of a busy kitchen.
For one thing, kitchens usually withstand a variety of temperatures, and bamboo doesn’t expand or contract in response to either hot or cold temperatures. This can help to maintain it’s original beauty.
Clean up and maintenance are also pretty straightforward for bamboo cabinets. Warm water and a gentle soap are typically all you need to keep the cabinets looking clean and ready.
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Compared to plastic and cheap metals, bamboo utensils are a significant improvement in your kitchen. A typical utensil doesn’t always stand the test of time, and after a couple years, it either breaks or is simply unfit for kitchen use. So, what do we do? We usually throw it away. But this isn’t a very sustainable lifestyle.
Instead, with bamboo utensils, even if they do break, they are 100 percent biodegradable, and will not cause as much damage to the environment if you decide to get rid of it.
Due to bamboo’s strength and durability, they’re longer lasting than plastic and wood options. And if you’re afraid they’ll stain or smell, rest assured: bamboo doesn’t stain or absorb kitchen odors.
Therefore, you can easily use your bamboo spoons to stir your favorite curry without having a yellow utensil afterward.
Another perk to bamboo utensils is that they’re compatible with non-stick cooking surfaces, so you can use them across a wide variety of kitchen pieces.
Bamboo countertops and cutting boards
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If you like to roll up your sleeves and cook, you probably make good use out of your countertops and kitchen surfaces. And while we know bamboo is a smart flooring choice, can bamboo act as a good countertop or cutting board, too?
Bamboo countertops and cutting boards are not made from one large slab of wood. Instead, they are constructed with strips and pieces of bamboo. In short, they’re a bit processed and put together.
This characteristic means you get to choose from many different and attractive styles, such as vertical grain, horizontal grain, end grain, and strand weaved, which is the most comparable to real wood.
On the other hand, strength and durability vary depending on the grain you choose. So, if you tend to use your kitchen surfaces a lot, consider installing vertical, end or strand grain – all of which tend to be the most durable.
Since countertops and cutting boards are exposed to many substances, it’s important that they’re sealed properly. Common sealants include Tung oil, mineral oil, beeswax, or other plant-based sealers.
It’s important to remember that bamboo countertops aren’t perfect. Depending on how much and how frequently you use them, they make not always look spic and span.
Regular maintenance is a good idea with bamboo countertops and cutting boards, but this isn’t a problem for some people. It’s just something to be aware of as you plan your kitchen.
Bamboo is, without a doubt, a sustainable and beautiful kitchen material. It may be perfect for your flooring, countertops or cabinets. It all depends on you, your lifestyle and your interior decor taste. In any event, take bamboo into consideration when you’re planning your kitchen remodel or renovation.