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BAMBOO; as a building material

Bhupendra kr. Yadav.

(Civil 3rd year)

Simply defining the building materials are those
materials which are used in construction of any structure. While
speaking about the construction material we frequently reminds
stone, sand, aggregate, steel, iron, aluminium etc .Among those
bamboo is the oldest building material known to human. Due to its
good mechanical, physical, thermal and other engineering properties,
low cost and lighter weight it has been used to make house, bridges,
and furniture and daily life used appliances. For the place where we
concern with cost, durability, and availability bamboo stand as the
alternative to other building material.
Bamboo is giant, woody grass belonging to
‘’Poacede” grass family and “Plantea” kingdom. Historically,
in 1778 Carl von linne introduce the bamboo as the
construction material. There are more than 70 genera divided
into about 1,000 species .It is the fastest growing plant.
Generally growth rate of the bamboo is found to be 120cm per
24 hours but, the growth rate varies according to type of
Mainly bamboo has three major part (a) Root (b) Cane (c)
Branches and leaves. Root also called ’Rhizomes’ is the lowest
part of the bamboo. After seeding rhizomes develop and
growth in both circumferentially and longitudinally. Among
different type of the rhizomes, some bend upward to allow the
new cane to mature. In bamboo there is no main axis for
central stem, each axis branch off another. There are
succession of the nodes and segments in rhizomes, cane and
branches. The shape of the cane may be straight, overhanging
or zig-zacked, curved or creeping. The cane growth from
nodes of the root stock and develops at the enormous speed.
The average length of the cane amount may be 8-15m with
diameter 5-12cm with wall thickness up to 10mm.Cane may be
in 15-20 segments in smaller species and up to 50 segment in
larger species. In most of the cane the cane segment has
average length of 35cm. Researchhas shown that the diameter
of the cane and the wall thickness varies according to length.
Only after three year cane develop its properties and will be
suitable for the structural timber. Canes may be remains free
from branches only for certain period, after then branches
start developing from top to bottom (may be up to bottom of
the cane in case of the some special species). The branches
develop with strong nodal bead with diaphragm .The branches
carry stemmed grass leaves.
Properties of the bamboo

➢Phy sica l pr oper tie s: -

1.For the large number of the species, the life span of the
bamboo is determined by flowering period which can be up
to 100 years.
2.Most bamboo species grew at temperature from -28 degree
centigrade to 50 degree centigrade. It grew mainly on sandy
liamy to liamy clay soil.
3.The specific gravity of the bamboo varies from 0.4 to 0.8
depending upon the type of the species.
4.The moisture content of the bamboo varies vertically from
top (82%) to bottom (110%), and also from outer layer
(100%, found by oven drying basis) to innermost layer
➢Mec han ical pr oper tie s
1.Tensile strength:-As the fiber of the bamboo run axially so it
has high tensile strength. Experimentally it is found that it
has tensile strength up to 40 kN/cm2 which is higher than
that of the steel (37 kN/cm2), but it is not possible to
construct the connection that can transfer these strength.
2.Compressive strength:-Bamboo is able to resist less
compressive strength to that of the tensile strength. Sill
tube does have to in the parallel or vertical to their fiber.
Experimentally it is found that the compressive strength of
the bamboo is 5.25 kN/cm2-8.6kN/cm2 according to the type
of the species and tube diameter.
3.Fracture behavior: - In the most of the case of the bamboo
structure fails due to fracture behavior of the bamboo. But it
does not break spontaneous through whole material. The
development of the deformation of the crack to whole tube
is stopped by enforcing knots. The crack formed in bamboo
surface is due to overloading or working at the period of
construction. This is the limitation of the bamboo to use as
the structure in modern construction.

4.Other strength properties in tabular form:-

S.n. Strength Value Remark
properties (kN/cm2)
1. Elastic modulus 1500-1900 -Varies according to type of
the species
2. Flexure 1500-1650 -varies according to tube
diameter. The deflection
strength may be up to 1/20 of
its span in average loading
3. Shearing 1.6-2.0 -Varies according to tube

5.Shrinking:- Bamboo shrinks more than that of the wood

when it loses water. The cane can tear apart at the nodes.
Bamboo shrinks in the cross-section up to 10-16%, while in
wall thickness up to 15-17%. Due to shrinking properties of
the bamboo the structure may lose their stability and hence
may cause failure.
6.Fire and weather resistance: - The fire and weather
resistance of the bamboo is very good because of the high
content of the silica (chemical composition of the bamboo)
filled with water. It can stand a temperature of 400 degree
centigrade while water cooks inside.
Another property of bamboo taken as its advantage
is its light weight than that of other structural material.
Bamboo has greater flexibility impact than that of the
➢Use s of the bamboo
Bamboo is the cheaper, lighter, easily available and
transportable building material known to the human. There
are many application of bamboo in different flied which
shows it’s important in field of construction engineering
field. Some of the major application is described below.
 As bamboo has been used as the building material
from ancient time, the million of the people over the
world live in bamboo house. Houses made of bamboo
are widely found in different part of the Nepal.
 Due to high strength bamboo can be used as pillars,
walls, window frame, rafters, room separator, ceiling
and roofs.
 In different part of the world Bamboo Bridge is found
to be widely used due to its strength, weight and
 It is experimentally found that due to its load bearing
capacity it can be used as beam with concrete
 Bamboo reinforced concrete column and walls is widely
used over the world.
 Bamboo finds a efficient application in concrete slab
reinforced with half section.
 Due to having good vibrating damping and heat
insulation properties bamboo is used as different
component of the structure.
 In different part of Nepal (may be over the world)
bamboo is used as basket, brushes holder, cup, and
kitchen container.
 Much furniture like bed, chairs are made of bamboo.
 In java 20, different musical instrument have been
fashioned of bamboo.
 There are numerous design and verities of handy-craft
made out of bamboo. In China, there are more than
3,000 verities of bamboo handicraft and that of in
Nepal and India.
 Bamboo is found to be used as ply wood, window cover.
 Bamboo is used in paper, food and evidently in building
 Certain medicine has been found to be made of
bamboo extracts. Different research is going on in this
Although bamboo is used in different field its fracture
behavior, shrinkage behavior, attack of different fungi limit it
in field of construction. But, after having different
mechanical and chemical treatment it’s all engineering
properties can be improved. After a well treatment and good
handling bamboo is the one of the best alternative solution
of building material.
In developing country like Nepal economy and
availability plays a greater role in field of construction. A
good research work on bamboo is required in order to make
the bamboo more familiar for such field. As bamboo is the
fastest growing plant, good for use and easy production
process it has a great income generation. Increased
production of bamboo and its wide use will provide
employment and income both in rural and urban area.
➢ References
1. The Bamboo Handbook - Durnford L. Dart
2. A term paper on bamboo-Ashis manandhar (purwanchal eng. Collage)
3. Electronic media