However, with more than 1,400 bamboo species, choosing the right one for your construction project can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s essential to know the best types of bamboo for construction and why they work.
It’s worth noting that although bamboo is touted as an excellent renewable construction material, not all species have the relevant qualities for this purpose.
Thus, before using any bamboo for construction, you must ensure it has sufficient tensile and compressive strength to withstand the forces exerted on any building. Otherwise, your house might not be structurally sound and could develop problems or even fail completely.
In this article, I’ll discuss the ten best types of bamboo for construction and why they work so well.
So, if you’re an eco-conscious builder, this will help you pick the best bamboo species for a durable house. Let’s get started!
The table below summarizes the ten best types of bamboo for construction:
|Guadua angustifolia||Height: 100 ft|
Diameter: 8 inch
|High tensile strength|
Excellent compressive strength compared to concrete
|It’s limited to America|
It requires drying
|Dendrocalamus asper||Height: 60 ft|
Diameter: 5 inch
Thicker culm walls
|Only abundant in Southeast Asia|
Performs well when dry
|Bambusa balcooa||Height: 72 ft|
Diameter: 6 inch
Thick culm walls
Strong and sturdy
|Thickened nodes that need shaping|
Small hairs below the internodes
|Bambusa bambos||Height: 65-100 ft|
Diameter: 4-7 inch
Dense clumping in nature
Suitable for heavy construction
Slightly swollen nodes
|Phyllostachys edulis||Height: 70 ft|
Diameter: 7 inch
|Faster growth rate|
Excellent strength-to-weight ratio
|Highly invasive due to its thin rhizomes|
|Chusquea gigantea||Height: 20-40 ft|
Diameter: 1-1.5 inch
|Strong and sturdy culms|
High fiber stress rating
|Highly susceptible to natural elements like insects when wet|
|Phyllostachys bambusoides||Height: 50 to 70 ft|
Diameter: 6 inch
|Best for roofs due to its upright posture|
Thick-walled culms for sturdy construction
Faster growth that makes it highly renewable
|It’s limited to a few countries like Japan and China|
|Gigantochloa apus||Height: 26-72 ft|
Diameter: 1.57-5.12 inch
|It produces quality timber resistant to borers|
Greenish to yellowish-green appearance looks good
|The long fibers require sufficient preservation to remain firm|
|Thyrsostachys siamensis||Height: 22.97-42.65 ft|
Diameter: 0.79-2.36 inch
High tensile strength
Highly durable due to its silica content
|It’s limited to only a few places in the world|
|Dendrocalamus brandisii||Height: 63.34-108.27 ft|
Diameter: 5.12-8.66 inch
|Tough and strong enough for construction|
Wider and sturdy culms
Quite long for projects that need longer poles
|It’s expensive due to its limited availability|
Table 1: The 10 best types of bamboo for construction
1. Guadua angustifolia
This neotropical bamboo species grows mainly in tropical and subtropical regions like Central and South America. It has some of the best qualities needed for construction.
Guadua angustifolia bamboo grows very fast, making it an excellent renewable material for construction. With a height of approximately 100 feet (30m), it’s one of the tallest bamboos providing plenty of material for any construction project.
It has an excellent tensile strength that almost matches that of steel. Moreover, its compressive ratio is almost twice that of some concrete. Therefore, it’s a bamboo species most likely to meet the International Building Code.
2. Dendrocalamus asper
Also known as Rough/Giant bamboo, this is a tropical and subtropical bamboo species native to Southeast Asia. It’s a dense clumping bamboo with thicker culm walls than most species.
This bamboo species grows up to 60 feet (18m) and is known for its large diameter that reaches a maximum of 5 inches (13cm).
Its high compressive and tensile strength is a factor that makes it suitable for construction. This means it can withstand shear forces, making it suitable for beams, poles, and other structures.
For instance, Ewe Jin Low, an architect, confirms that his house made from Dendrocalamus asper bamboo withstood the 5 August 2018 Lombok 6.9 scale earthquake without developing any defects.
In addition to its strength, Dendrocalamus asper is often chosen for its aesthetic appeal due to its grayish-green coloration. Therefore, it’s one of the best types of bamboo for construction.
3. Bambusa balcooa
This is one of the clumping bamboo species. It grows to a height of approximately 72 feet (22 m) and a diameter of 6 inches (15 cm).
The main reason the Bambusa balcooa bamboo is on this list is its imposing size. The stalks of this bamboo species have thick culm walls that make them stronger and more resistant to the elements.
This bamboo is excellent for outdoor structures such as gazebos and fences due to its sturdy nature.
Moreover, it’s ideal for indoor projects because of its superior strength, which enables it to withstand heavy loads.
4. Bambusa bambos
Also known as Giant Thorny Bamboo or the Indian Thorny Bamboo, this species has thick culm walls that make it suitable for construction.
With a height of 65 to 100 feet (20 to 30 m), this bamboo species is ideal for roofing where longer poles are necessary.
Its dense clumping growth habit produces wider culms between 4 and 7 inches (10 to 18 cm) in diameter. This makes it an ideal material for construction since thicker poles are usually used in building foundations and columns.
This bamboo species is also used for thatching and weaving structures like huts and lodges, thanks to its tall culms.
With a fiber stress rating varying between 18.3-26.5 N/mm2, Bambusa bambos is one of the strongest bamboo species. It can withstand the different forces exerted on a building without affecting its structural integrity.
5. Phyllostachys edulis
Phyllostachys edulis is a running bamboo species that grows aggressively while spreading over long distances quickly.
This species grows to attain a height of 70 feet (21 m) and a 7-inch (18 cm) diameter structure. These features are essential for construction purposes.
The culms of this bamboo species are strong and durable, making them suitable for any building project. Moreover, its fast growth rate makes it an excellent choice for renewable building materials.
Phyllostachys edulis is also used to produce bamboo plywood, thanks to its remarkable strength-to-weight ratio. Its thin sheets are known for their stability and are used in making furniture, flooring, or cabinetry.
6. Chusquea gigantea
This is a South American bamboo species with solid culms that make for an incredibly strong and sturdy building material.
These bamboos can grow between 20 and 40 feet tall (6 and 12 m) and 1 to 1.5 inches (3 to 4 cm) in diameter.
Like most clumping bamboo species, Chusquea gigantea establishes quickly. For instance, according to an experiment by the Red Panda Nursery, this species reached fifteen feet (five meters) tall after two growing seasons.
Its dense clumps and established root systems make it ideal for fencing and trellis. Its strength is also useful in building bridges and pergolas.
7. Phyllostachys bambusoides
Also known as the Japanese Timber Bamboo, the Phyllostachys bambusoides is an excellent species for construction.
This bamboo is regal, upright, and elegant – crucial features for woodworking and roofing.
With an average height and diameter between 50 to 70 feet (15 to 22 m) and 6 inches (15 cm), respectively, it makes an excellent option for construction.
Its culms are straight, thick-walled, and strong, making it suitable for building foundations, columns, and other outdoor structures like fences or walls.
More importantly, its strength enables it to withstand the elements with minimal damage.
Finally, its culms increase quickly, with speeds of up to 40 inches (101 cm) daily. Such a fast growth rate means you don’t have to worry about the availability of this bamboo species for any project.
8. Gigantochloa apus
An excellent feature that makes Gigantochloa apus one of the best types of bamboo for construction is its high-quality timber that’s resistant to borers. When building a home, you want to use quality materials that can withstand daily wear and tear.
The Gigantochloa apus bamboo species grows to a height ranging between 26 and 72 feet (8 and 22 meters). Its average diameter ranges between 1.57-5.12 inches (4-13 cm).
Its high-quality culms are ideal for roofing, fencing, bridges, columns, and foundations because of their strength and stability.
The culms are yellowish-green or bright green, a feature that adds aesthetic beauty with a rustic touch to any structure.
Its distinguishing features are less tapering and longer fibers, making it a premium bamboo species for construction.
9. Thyrsostachys siamensis (Bamboo Jakarta)
Bamboo Jakarta has solid or near-solid culms that enhance its tensile strength. These culms make it suitable for various construction projects.
With an average height between 23 and 43 feet (7 and 13 m) and a diameter between 1 and 2 inches (2 and 6 cm), Bamboo Jakarta is an excellent choice for any construction.
The culms grows faster and bear more shoots, making it easy to harvest large amounts of this species for construction projects.
Furthermore, its high silica content makes it a durable bamboo that’s resistant to corrosion and damage caused by pests or fungi.
10. Dendrocalamus brandisii
This is a tropical clumping bamboo native to Southeast Asia.
It’s an evergreen tufted bamboo with ashy-gray to greenish-gray color. Its tuft-like nature makes it an excellent choice for construction projects.
Denrocalamus brandisii has a height of 63-108 feet (19-33 meters) and a diameter of 5-9 inches (13-22 cm). From these dimensions, this is a tall and wide bamboo species ideal for fencing and trellis.
Its slim culms are suitable for indoor construction projects like wall coverings, partitions, screens, and furniture.
Moreover, its stiff but lightweight nature makes it an excellent choice for trusses and buildings in seismic zones.
A point worth noting is that this bamboo has slightly swollen nodes with rootlets. This feature makes it ideal for building foundations and other outdoor structures.
When looking for the best types of bamboo for construction, consider the requirements of your design to determine your needs and choose a species that meets them.
For instance, while Dendrocalamus asper is excellent for beams and poles, Phyllostachys bambusoides works best in columns, foundations, and outdoor structures.
Moreover, it’s essential to inspect each bamboo thoroughly to ensure it’s good quality before use.
With the right bamboo species for your construction project, you can build a strong, sturdy structure that’ll last years!
Finding a professional bamboo builder can be daunting due to the many factors to consider. If you’re in this situation, check out this list of 6 bamboo home builders with the necessary expertise.