Bamboo or no Bamboo?

As this green movement grows, we in the construction industry keep an eye out for ways to

“save the world” and sometimes it’s our own modern technology and progressions in the world that has made  this environmentally unfriendly world.

Bamboo, being a fast growing and renewable natural resource, was used for construction extensively by our ancient people.

Bamboo scaffold is the diamond in the rough. It has always been here and available, but it wasn’t pretty enough or not esthetically pleasing enough to actually use it in any other place besides India and China.

I think the green factor of this bamboo couldn’t get greener, but what has been said to drives this design out of wack here in the United States is labor cost. China’s convinced that the flexibility and speediness in construction is advantageous over what we know to be scaffold frames.

There have been studies made and I think it’s easy to believe that Bamboo is a lot cheaper than your metal scaffolding. A recent study shows that bamboo is only 6% the cost of a similar length of steel. Also in this study they built a scaffold 7 story building 150’ long by 30’ Wide, and did a cost analysis on material, accessory’s transportation labor & waste of materials. The savings were close to $40,000.00

Can their installations go quicker? It is said to go up 6X faster than traditional scaffolding and dismantle at 12X faster. Amazing and if true that would wipe away any concern of labor cost.

Quality of the bamboo and its life expectancy varies and there are industry standards that are followed and inspected prior to each project and while erected. Bamboo scaffolding is normally seen on buildings with 7 or fewer floors,

So what do I think ?

Bamboo is natural and renewable material for building construction. It is environmentally friendly. As material for scaffolding, the system is flexible in providing working platform and access to building in limited construction space. The system is also efficient and cost-effective. It is a popular scaffolding system in Southeast Asia. However, there is a general misconception from Western World that bamboo scaffolding is a very dangerous system and trade. The safety to users of bamboo scaffolding is, of course, a complex issue. It involves total quality control process from erection, inspection, maintenance, dismantling, and appropriate training in using bamboo scaffolding. It also has the flexibility of bamboo scaffolds in an irregular architectural layout, speediness in erecting scaffolds, and cost-effectiveness in comparing to metal scaffold. I don’t think we should completely shy away from the old system.More research is needed in comparing these scaffolding systems in terms of cost saving, speediness, flexibility, and other concerned issues in order to provide more information for construction professionals to make decision on selecting the right scaffolding system for a project.


Appropriateness in using bamboo scaffold for constructing buildings less than seven floors, [WWW document]. URL

Chung, K. F. and Siu, Y. C. (1999), Erection of Bamboo Scaffolds, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 6.



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