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Variety is one of the best-selling points of hardwood floors. From the different tones of light and dark wood down to its patterns, the choices hardwood offers its buyers make them a versatile flooring material. But more than its color, knots, and whorls, different hardwood species come with additional perks unique to that type only. In recent years, exotic hardwoods are gaining more attention from homeowners across the country. Here are four hardwood trees you can use for flooring this 2023.
The US and Canadian flooring industries describe exotic hardwood flooring as floorings that use hardwood sources outside North America. The definition became an international term for all flooring industries worldwide.
In simplest terms, exotic hardwoods are any tree species sourced and grown outside the country. For the US and Canadian flooring markets, trees like white oak, red oak, and hickory are domestic hardwood species. Meanwhile, the Jatoba hardwood indigenous to Brazil is an exotic flooring for them. However, the Brazilian industry uses Jatoba as a domestic wood while seeing oak as unusual.
Besides their origins, buyers also consider some hardwoods as exotic specie according to their other qualities. Here are some of the factors they check.
Most exotic hardwood floorings are hard, but not all are as tough as many domestic species. Purpleheart and Australian Cypress are exotic hardwoods, but they fall in the middle of the Janka hardness scale. While they’re tougher than softwoods, the two trees are far below in hardness, like teak and mahogany.
One of the things that make exotic hardwood popular is its unique appearance. Unlike most domestic species, exotic hardwood planks have wide and pronounced graining. They also exhibit vibrant, unusual colors like reds, classic brown tones, and purples. Other species like Brazilian pecan and tigerwood have night-and-day tone contrast, from deep black to light tone in one board.
Many imported hardwood floorings cost more than their domestic counterparts. While some exotic species are more affordable, most are twice as expensive because of overseas shipping expenditures.
Brazilian Cherry or Jatoba is one of the most popular exotic hardwood species for flooring in the US. It’s a fiery red hardwood originating in Brazil, Peru, and Mexico. Sometime between 2020 and 2021, the popularity of Jatoba dipped due to the trend changes. While not as widespread in many homes, remodelers, and homeowners still like them for their durability and appearance. In addition, their once expensive prices slid to more reasonable fees.
Brazilian Cherry is also one of the hardest exotic hardwoods available. It has a Janka scale of 2350 and can take as much sanding and refinishing over its lifespan. One downside of Jatoba planks is their water stains, as they show more readily than other species.
The main reason for their decline in popularity in the past years was the vast deforestation of forests in South America. Between 2000 and 2007, many Brazilian Cherry trees are cut rapidly without any reforestation strategies. Due to this, homeowners need to look for FCS certification if they plan on buying Jatoba planks for their floors.
Tigerwood flooring planks offer people wild and contrasting wide grains in one wood strip. Their colors and patterns are showy and dramatic, and many homeowners who like bold designs prefer them for their floors. In addition, they have high water and moisture resistance.
One notable disadvantage of having tigerwood for your flooring is the damage it gets from sun exposure. Unlike other hardwood planks, they’re more prone to sun fading, and the darker stripes will soon even out with their lighter tone.
Harvesting tigerwood differs in South America and the African Congo. Due to their decreasing number, many organizations like the Rainforest Relief list them under species to be on alert. Research is also necessary when purchasing this exotic hardwood. Remember to buy FCS-certified planks and verify if they come from second-growth forests instead of old-growth sources.
Kempas is an exotic hardwood known for its reddish-pinkish brown wood. They originate from Indonesia and Malaysia and become appealingly darker when you stain them. Unlike tigerwood, Kempas planks provide homeowners a solid hardwood flooring that blends well with the room while letting other features shine.
Although they’re imported hardwoods, Kempas have a reasonable price than most exotic species. This is because most people only use their boards for flooring. Sun exposure hugely impacts the tone and quality of Kempas hardwood floors as they continue to darken with more contact with UV rays.
Australian Cypress is an exotic hardwood with rustic features, whorls, and pronounced grains. Unlike many imported hardwood planks, these wood strips are a cost-effective choice. They’re also highly sustainable and come from second-growth forests.
People who prefer their homes to have a cottage or cabin-like feeling can achieve that with Australian Cypress wood flooring. While it fits your aesthetic, you can encounter durability problems as they’re a softer hardwood. Using this for flooring if you have pets, especially dogs, is not recommended.
Exotic hardwoods are becoming as popular as their domestic counterparts this 2023. While domestic hardwood floorings like white oak and maple are classic options, these four imported hardwood species create a statement and drama and add uniqueness to your floors. Understanding their special features and colors will help you choose the best one for your rooms and living space.
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