What material is 100% renewable, stronger than oak, and as pretty as bamboo? If you guessed Plyboo, you win an Inhabitat star. Plyboo, just as it sounds, is laminated bamboo plywood. Stronger and more durable than most hardwoods, yet lightweight and eco-friendly, ply bamboo is an ideal material for flooring, walls, and furniture.

We featured Plyboo on Inhabitat before in Redstr Collective’s Cha Furniture, and in Todd Laby’s Rhubarb Designs. However, we thought the material itself was so cool it deserved its own post.

The term “Plyboo” was coined and trademarked Smith and Fong Company the leading producer of bamboo plywood. Founded in 1989 Smith & Fong are continuously working to improve and expand upon their Bamboo products. Happily for DIYers, they don’t just make wholesale products for the construction industry. For those handy folks out there interested in making their own designs, Bamboo plywood is readily available to consumers in standard plywood sizes.

Another company forging the way in bamboo products is the more recently established Silkroad, by K&M Bamboo Products. Along with their standard Bamboo plywood, they also offer Bamboo veneer.

Based on feedback from quite a few users, we’ve realized Plyboo is actually fairly expensive right now. We’re hoping that as the demand for it increases, it will be produced in larger quantities and the price will go down. Until then, however, be warned!

+ Silkroad


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  1. Francis Osorio February 20, 2012 at 4:14 am

    20 Feb. 2012
    I have a woodworking operation in northern Mindanao Philippines. Presently, I am starting to use bamboo to make floors, doors, wall panels,etc. I find your comments very interesting. I am now experimenting on various production concepts to handle bamboo as a raw material. My main objective is to keep the selling prices competitive and affordable.I will keep you informed on developments.

  2. cytechresources August 14, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Our bamboo is much cheaper than what you think, kindly compare the raw material prices with us since we are the manufacturer of bamboo blocks

  3. lika hamdi June 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    i bought neopolitan sheet 4x 6 $240 for counter top and it is worth it. it cam to about $20.00 per sqf
    it is more interesting and texture is more fun than just veneer plywood once you seal it and varnish.
    it becomes the focal point of my kitchen, and conversation is always over it.
    love it.

  4. Robert Cox January 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I would say that Plyboo is hip, but not a fad. I do agree that the prices will go down, but with all product life cycles, it is the early adopters that pay for the future users lower prices.

    As far as manufacturing goes, Plyboo has received a great reputation as an outstanding product.

  5. dandrums December 29, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Let’s be real here people. Bamboo has been around forever and grows faster than dandelions in July. Only recently has ther been a huge push in making this a hip and “fad” product. Being a cabinetmaker and having used all sorts of materials I can assure you that greed and greed alone are behind the pricing of this material. It’s probably cheaper cheaper than rice and made by the same people. Two decades ago, everyone wanted an “oak kitchen” followed by “mahogany”. We depleted the northeast of old growth oak and then shut down the rain forest all along the way. Now, it’s some of the cheapest materials you can buy. Given time, bamboo plywood will be cheap as anything else. If you like it and plan to stay where you are, buy it and love it. And to the person who says it’s labor intensive to manufacture, bullshit! It’s probably made with cheap immigrant labor.

  6. josav November 29, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    I was so excited to use the new green product, Plyboo. Till I saw the cost. We were going to use it to build bamboo sill plates for our windows. However it turned out to be cheaper to buy bamboo flooring, cut and router the pieces to fit. It was a bit more labor intensive but we achieved a similar look. Not to mention expensive shipping cost to the east coast. Seems all bamboo suppliers are west coast. shipping was anywhere from $150-200 additional to the cost. Theres gotta be a better way!

  7. Lumboo: Dimensional Lum... July 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    […] whose production has less of an environmental impact than the production of other wood products. Bamboo flooring is well-trod territory now, and bamboo panels are becoming increasingly prevalent, as well. Now, […]

  8. Marmol Radziner Announc... June 25, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    […] options for interior finishings include bamboo flooring in the living and bedroom areas along with Marmoleum flooring in the bathrooms. Low-E […]

  9. Gee Wizz November 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Yeah, Plyboo is expensive. I was quoted $244.40 per 4′ X 6′ sheet of Neopolitan….Yikes. Something to remember for all you out there, although bamboo is now being marketed as the new earth friendly product, many of the common woods available are grown as crops from managed forest. The same way veggies are grown. Where we all start getting into trouble is when we tap into more exotic woods. Like the ones in the rain forest that are a major contributor to the balance of the earth. But I agree Plyboo looks nice and you can create a lot of nice looking things with it…….if you can afford it.

  10. akubotey August 5, 2009 at 12:24 am

    great plyboo. can i know about processing the this plyboo??

  11. treehuggie July 2, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    As DIY’ers who have been living for nearly two years without flooring because we are renovating a nearly demo’d building without incurring debt (while I attend school no less) the prices for the product, though the quality may be superb, are absolutely out of range. We do splurge for the good of the earth when the costs are justified but this leaves us going back to the good ole standby, linoleum tiles. If it was good enough for grandma, it’s good enough for us.

  12. Michelle June 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Well, I have been thinking of making my own countertops, and ran across a deal that I couldn’t refuse. I was planning on doing poured concrete, but ran across the plyboo 4’x8′ 3/4″ very, very, very cheap. And it isn’t anywhere near $210. It is marked down because it is not selling very well. I will let y’all know where it is once I secure me some for my project. :)

  13. Ivan DeWolf October 23, 2006 at 1:30 am

    obviously, plyboo is currently more expensive than it might eventually be, costs generally go down not up on products. How low might it eventually get? Will it ever get down to the point where it’ll be able to compete with traditional plywood?

    in the meantime, I just saw a kitchen counter made with plyboo, and it was worth the cost. I think I might pick up a sheet and make some display shelves.

  14. Ramuj July 24, 2006 at 8:01 am

    wheewww….. i guess that (plyboo) is really expensive…. I am a student from the Philippines and it’s our new product for our feasibility study… I thougt that the price of this thing will differ in the raw materials that will be used and not with what is needed in the procedure like labor or machines used…. Will, as far as I know, bamboo is very abundant in the Philippines and i thought that it will help by making the Plyboo as a substitue to a common plywood….. Gosh!!! I stand corrected… Thanks……

  15. Inhabitat » Blog ... June 20, 2006 at 4:02 am

    […] These sleek and sexy chairs are about as sustainable as you can get without sitting in the dirt. According to designer Anthony Marschak, the single curving piece of Plyboo minimizes the weight of the piece and minimizes waste of the materials. A good thing for the manufacturer given the expense of Plyboo. […]

  16. Inhabitat » Blog ... June 16, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    […] The wonder material of bamboo continues to amaze us with its potential. From plywood, to salad bowls, to the ethereal structures of Kengo Kuma, this sustainable, structural grass seems to have endless possibilities. Now, Bamboo Living is sponsoring an international competition to design buildings out of bamboo. The competition is open to all students, architects, and designers, with the goal of raising awareness of the ecological benefits of using bamboo as both a material and a technology. […]

  17. Jill Fehrenbacher January 18, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    Thanks Michael-

    Point taken. I clearly didn’t research the cost of this product enough before I posted this, and I’m sorry you felt mislead. I’ve updated the post to reflect what I’ve learned from this debate, ie Plyboo is crazy expensive! Next time I’ll do better research!

  18. michael January 18, 2006 at 12:24 pm

    Hey Jill,
    It appears that most of the comments are generated by the fact that your readers, after getting really excited about this product found out that this stuff is through the roof expensive. I invested my time and excitement reading about plyboo because in your opening comments you told me it was “inexpensive”. I certainly felt cheated.
    Instead of reacting to Kyle’s comments after the fact, why don’t you get proactive and just edit the copy so that those of us who aren’t interested in $200 a sheet plywood don’t waste our time.

  19. Brian January 12, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    You seem to be comparing apples and oranges. In addition to the cost of manufacturing, Bamboo plywood is a “lumber core” product. This means that it is all bamboo. If you were to price a similar product made from hardwood, you would soon find the price to be more in line. The majority of plywoods have only a thin veneer of the hardwood on the out side and less expensive woods or MDF in the interior. The fact is that you can get bamboo veneers over MDF for a fraction of the cost, if this satisfies your needs. I wish Porche sold their cars for the price of a Volkswagon, but they can’t.

  20. Paul December 9, 2005 at 3:39 am

    This sounds like a good product. But, it has priced itself out of the market. Sorry, but I can’t afford this product.

  21. ron December 1, 2005 at 10:42 pm

    I’d buy the stuff too but 200 bucks a sheet makes it yet another sustainable product that’s really just another luxury product for the rich.

  22. Kyle November 29, 2005 at 9:30 pm

    Wow! Thanks for the explanation Sven!
    I, like most people, don’t have the luxury of building shelves that are worthy of your quality product.
    I hope that your product will soon be so successful that you can begin (environmentally friendly) mass production and bring the price down to Home Depotesque levels.

  23. Sven Eberlein November 29, 2005 at 8:53 pm

    Hi folks,
    Thanks for writing about our plyboo plywoods. Just wanted to chime in to hopefully explain why bamboo-ply (we try to not call it wood) sheet goods are more expensive than flooring. It’s certainly not because we are trying to rip anyone off. Making 4 & 8 sheets of bamboo ply is a lot more labor intensive than producing shorter flooring planks. It is all done by hand and you’re dealing with much longer strips and thus have to be much more precise in the layering process. Also, using this cold press process enables us to keep emission levels at zero, unlike most bamboo floors that are mass produced and often contain higher levels of formaldehyde. In short, bamboo-ply is more of a high quality product and you really get what you pay for. It certainly is higher quality than birch veneer plywood since you’re working with 100% solid bamboo rather than a plywood core with veneer.

    I hope this helps.

    Sven Eberlein,
    Smith & Fong Plyboo

  24. Jill Fehrenbacher November 21, 2005 at 12:09 am

    Hey Kyle-

    I didn’t realize that sheets of this plywood cost most than birch veneer plywood. Thats unfortunate! I know the flooring stuff is pretty inexpensive. Lets hope as the demand increases the price will drop. There is no reason this stuff should be expensive. Bamboo is so easy to come by.

  25. kyle November 20, 2005 at 8:02 pm

    Although this product is supercool and readily available, it’s grotesquely expensive for a sheet of plywood made from a grass. We were going to use this for some shelves and discovered it to be roughly 5x the cost of an equivalent thickness of birch veneer plywood. It’s interesting to note that a sheet of this plywood typically costs more per square foot than factory milled bamboo flooring. Hopefully, prices will fall in the near future as the newness of this cool renewable building material becomes more common place.

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