Long used in many Asian countries, bamboo has become more common in the United States. Designed as a durable, environmentally friendly material, bamboo is used for flooring or fencing options. While not termite proof, bamboo treated properly can be very termite resistant. Therefore, some homeowners should prevent you from termite damage with bamboo.
What is bamboo?
Bamboo is a grass, not a tree. The rounded stems, also called culm, are hard on the outside and hollow on the inside. Bamboo grows very fast and can be very disturbing. Because it grows faster than trees and can be harvested sooner, usually three to seven years, many consider it an environmentally friendly renewable material.
Termites live in colonies that can range from hundreds to over a million. They live on cellulose, which is abundant in wood and its by-products such as paper and cardboard. Termites are often grouped according to their feeding behavior, such as drywood or subterreanean, both of which can cause significant damage to houses and other structures.
Bamboo and termites
While it is often believed that bamboo is proof of termite, the inner parts of raw bamboo culms contain cellulosic fibers (starch and sugar) that attract insects, including termites. When these fibers are removed, bamboo is no longer attractive to termites. Bamboo is thus not termite evidence. However, there are ways to make bamboo very termite resistant.
How to treat bamboo
Bamboo can be treated naturally or chemically to remove the inner cellulose fibers. Natural methods include boiling. When bamboo is harvested and cut into strips, it is dried and cooked to eliminate any sugar or starch. When these are removed, it is no longer attractive to termites. Bamboo can also be chemically treated to deter termites. The method may vary by the company harvesting and manufacturing bamboo.
Because of its durability and environmentally friendly reputation, bamboo has become an easily accessible material for flooring, fencing, cabinets and furniture. Its resistance to termites can make it particularly attractive to people living in termite-prone areas.