bamboo flooring, green building materials
Floors, $7 per square foot; Countertops, $8.69 (side grain) and $21.20 (end grain) per square foot; Kitchen cabinet installations, starting at $18,000; Pewtwe 7-inch pull, $40; Slippery shelf, $395;
Talking about bamboo as a "new" building material is ridiculous. It's been used in Asia for everything from chairs to chopsticks for as long as there's been a civilization. But now that we in the West have finally caught on, companies can't wait to jump on the bamboo bandwagon. The material performs on par with most woods. But because it's a grass, bamboo grows about four times as fast, shooting up as much as 100 feet in 60 days. And even as questionable harvesting and shipping practices cast doubts on its overall "greenness," bamboo's rapid regeneration makes it a viable alternative for flooring, cabinetry, and furniture.

The Armstrong flooring seen above as a backdrop (1) locks together, earning extra points for eschewing glues and fasteners. Two countertop options from Green Building Supply show the difference between bamboo's end grain (2) and side-grain (3) patterns. Water-based stain seals Pure Kitchen's clean-lined cabinet door (4) which is set off by a lead-free pewter pull (5) from GreenSage. Bamboo shelves (6), handmade by Mark Righter of Cambium Studio, slide along a dovetail joint. The straw, caramel, and coffee hues shown on all these pieces explore bamboo's diverse color palette, but deep down, they're green.
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