Bamboo is a tall tropical grass that grows quickly and is extremely sturdy. Used in Eastern cultures for centuries as a durable building material, it's gaining popularity in the West as a beautiful, green alternative to hardwoods for flooring and furniture and, more recently, as an alternative to drywall for ceilings. Some features of this unique material include:
Bamboo ceilings look more like wood than like bamboo. Ceiling planks are manufactured from timber bamboo that's cut and milled into long strips. The strips are then dried and laminated into a single-ply veneer. Several layers are compressed together under heat to create a multilayered product that's milled into tongue-and-groove planks. The planks can be left unfinished until after installation, a common practice when the planks will be used for flooring. Planks that will be used for ceilings normally have a finish added. Various manufacturers offer different color and sheen choices; all are typically natural colors in matte, semigloss and gloss sheens.
Manufacturers have specific installation information that should be followed for their products. Generally, to create a bamboo ceiling, bamboo planks are simply attached to ceiling framing in place of drywall at the same place in the construction sequence. For a week before installation, ensure that the temperature and the humidity level in the room where the ceiling will be installed remain at typical indoor living conditions (60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent to 60 percent relative humidity; this will allow framing members to expand or contract and discourage nail pops. At least 72 hours before installation, store the bamboo planks in the room; this will allow the materials to adjust to the indoor temperature and humidity.
Begin installing the bamboo ceiling planks next to an outside wall. This is usually the straightest and best reference for establishing a straight line. You can cut the plank lengths as needed with conventional power tools. Lay them perpendicular to the ceiling joists for greatest stability, leaving at least a half-inch expansion space between the ceiling and the adjacent walls. Fasten planks at each intersection with the ceiling joists. For subsequent rows, stagger the end joints from row to row and use cut ends to begin and end the rows that follow.
Once the entire field has been installed, proceed with installing drywall for the walls. During the trim stage of construction, when baseboards and other finish materials are being installed, install crown molding at all bamboo ceilings to conceal the expansion gap between the ceiling and the adjacent walls.
For an attention-grabbing ceiling, consider these design ideas to add dimension and texture.
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