Bamboo harvest

Bamboo Wood Flooring

Bamboo is a grass, rather than wood, and because it grows primarily in tropical environments, no bamboo flooring is harvested and made in the U.S.   For use in the States bamboo is imported from China, Indonesia, Korea, the Phillipines and Vietnam – most of it coming from China.

bamboo truckbamboo_factory_4

There has been much discussion and controversy about the use of bamboo as a “green” building material due to concerns about harvesting, the chemicals used to make bamboo products, and transporting it across long distances.  In order to address these concerns, manufacturers and suppliers have been working to better manage their materials sources and work with environmentally friendly chemicals to offer better “green” bamboo products.

Residential Architect posted an article in August 2012 entitled: Rapidly Renewable – One of green building’s “poster-child” products – bamboo, has come a long way from its roots.  It describes how the bamboo industry has changed over the years and some important things to consider when looking at bamboo as a material.

Interior wood materials, in particular wood flooring,  can be a major source of indoor air quality issues. Because of the concern about the reduction or elimination of any Volatile Air Compounds (VOC’s), it is critical that we review all of the components used to assemble interior materials, and how they perform based upon Third-Party testing results.  (To avoid “Greenwashing” – useless or bogus sales terms).

The goal is to specify low VOC emitting building materials and furnishings.  VOC emissions vs.VOC Content is an important distinction.  This is a particular challenge when it comes to flooring systems due to the adhesives and finishes used.  Thankfully bamboo flooring manufacturers and suppliers are, due to consumer demand,  now up to the green challenge, and have been working with the harvesting, manufacturing, transporting, and installation processes, to make their products “more green” and providing designers and consumers with the proper information they need to make them comfortable about their choice of materials.

dog on bamboo floor

From the U.S. Green Building Council’s GREEN HOME GUIDE:  “I’d like to put in hardwood floors and I’m considering bamboo. What do I need to consider?”

Bamboo Floor Manufacturers and their websites:


They offer some very low-VOC emitting (“Certified”) bamboo flooring products.  Their bamboo Q&A Page is a helpful starting point:




Plyboo bamboo flooring is manufactured by the Smith & Fong Company, which is from San Francisco. They have products that use soy-based adhesives and formaldehyde-free materials

Their website is very informative with some good images of products.

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dasso 1dasso 2

Their bamboo flooring products are sold by  Ecotimber


Resysta: the Non-Wood Wood


Reposted from dwell’s : JETSON GREEN  /dated May 9, 2011 (with some editorial updates):

Resysta is an attractive, sustainable, and non-plastic alternative to wood.  With the look and feel of wood, Resysta is very durable, water-resistant and most comparable to the typically unsustainable, tropical hardwoods; however, it contains no wood.  Suitable for decking, cladding, interior wall cladding or marine applications, Resysta is flexible enough for all projects.

Composed of primarily rice husks along with common salt and mineral oil pressed into boards, it is an innovative material which takes advantage of the previously end of life rice husks, which are typically burned.

Another benefit, unlike wood, it does not contain lignin, a compound within wood that causes greying, therefore keeping it’s original color.  Resysta is also fully recyclable — the company will take back the product at the end of its use to reintroduce the material into the production cycle.

Lakehouse-Residence-with-Resysta-568x424      Lakehouse-Residence-with-Resysta2-568x378

Driven to find an alternative to the price premium of FSC certified tropical hardwoods,Max Strang Architecture, AIA Miami 2010 Firm of the Year, utilized Resysta throughout the recently completed Lakehouse in Winter Haven, Florida (pictured in this article).  This soon to be LEED-certified home is a showcase of the innovative product, embodying the firm’s philosophy of “Environmental Modernism.*

Available in a variety of profiles such as decking (smooth and corrugated), dowels, inlays, wall cladding, and typical board dimensions, Resysta can also be worked the same as wood without splintering or cracking.  The product, manufactured in Indonesia, Vietnam and Germany, is priced around $4 a linear foot used for decking and wall cladding.

Lakehouse-Residence-with-Resysta-Max-Strang-Architecture-568x378      Resysta-Product-Photo-Max-Strang-Architecture-568x426   


 More info on “The Better Wood” Non-Wood Resysta.

resysta-facades9        resysta-facades17       resysta-facades19       resysta_colour-concept

Rain Screen Siding 101

Also known as: “Exterior Ventilated Cladding” , Ventilated Facade”, “Pressure Equalized Rainscreen Wall”,  and  “Rain Screen Cladding” among other terms.

So what is a rain Screen?:

rain screen-ipe siding at window

All rain screens include the following elements:

  • Vented or porous exterior cladding
  • Air cavity (a few inches of depth is sufficient)
  • Drainage layer on support wall
  • Rigid, water-resistant, airtight, support wall

pressure_rainscreen-Section detail

Advantages of a Rain Screen Assembly:

  • Energy Efficiency: Provides a passive insulation cavity that helps save energy.  When it is hot outside, this buffer zone behind the rain screen allows the hot air outside to cool off, shielding the interior of the home or structure from the thermal impact.  Likewise, in colder climates or when there is cooler weather in any climate, this air space behind the rain screen provides the same buffer zone to prevent the transmission of heat gain or loss which creates a more energy efficient design.
  • Moisture Management:  Air space between exterior cladding and drainage plane helps drainage and facilitates drying.  Moving air within the air gap diffuses water vapor and prevents condensation and moisture from forming within the panels.
  • Solar Protection:  The thermal comfort is improved inside the building, preventing overheating in summer, as it facilitates the transpiration of the façade and reduces the amount of thermal energy that reaches the inside of the building.  The internal structure is protected from direct radiation and from the elements.
  • Acoustic Insulation:  As a compound system with several layers, including an air gap,  a greater noise absorption is created.

machiche rainscreen in los altos

Potential Issues

  • UV degradation of weather barrier
  • Insects nesting in air space
  • Detailing around windows
  • Weather-resistive barrier failure
  • Increased material and labor costs
  • Added installation time


Some good info and resources:

“The rain screen siding principle is straightforward: first build an outside wall and weatherproof it (building envelope), secondly construct an outer layer of siding (rain screen) to keep the weather (rain, snow, sleet,wind and sun) away from the inner wall. The air space in the wall cavity between the building envelope and the rain screen allows moisture to escape and also creates a passive insulation layer. 

Rain screen siding technology has been in existence since as early as the 12th century A.D. Some wooden stave churches in Norway that were built in the late 1100’s using early rain screen wood siding technology are still in existence today. Many Japanese temples were also built about the same time using similar rain screen siding principles.


Architects and designers seeking better moisture management and energy efficiency from the exteriors of their projects are turning to rain screens as a solution for both.

A rain screen is an exterior cladding infrastructure that sits away from a building’s outside wall’s weather-resistant barrier, creating an air cavity directly behind the cladding that helps to protect the buildings important weather-resistant barrier. This allows any moisture that may pass by the cladding to easily drain away from the building, and the air that flows between the cladding and the wall accelerates evaporation of any residual moisture. Rain screens also provide a solution for improving buildings energy efficiency by facilitating exterior insulation. ”


Starting Line(s)

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”   -Winston Churchill

Sonoma High Road House View 30

Sonoma High Road House View 28

An Idea in Site

Here are some images of the existing conditions… Next up, design!


The Here and Now

“An architect’s most useful tools are an eraser at the drafting board, and a wrecking bar at the site”     – Frank Lloyd Wright

A gallery of our existing house – more images coming soon…

Starting Somewhere

“Beginning is the most important part of the work”     -Plato

Welcome to the High Road House Blog!  Here you can track progress on the story of the house, from the design through construction, all the way to the happy move in (of course).  We will be posting some of the photos of the house in it’s current state, so you can see our starting point, along with our current designs.  Then watch as we transform the house into something extraordinary!!!