March 17, 2023

Getting to Know Kempas Hardwood Flooring

Living room in luxury home with cherry wood flooring

In 2022, exotic hardwood floors started climbing the trends within the U.S. and Canadian flooring industries. While many domestic hardwoods, like oak, hickory, and maple, are still the most popular choices for homeowners, several exotic hardwood species are making their mark in households and commercial spaces across the country. One of them is Kempas. Learn more about this fascinating wood and why using them for your floors is one of the best decisions for your house.

What is Kempas Wood?

Kempas is a durable, exotic hardwood from Indonesia and Malaysia, used by many professionals for flooring. It has a botanical name of Koompassia malaccensis and rates 1710 on the Janka hardness scale. This exotic wood is firmer than the most popular domestic hardwoods, such as white oak and ash.

Due to its Janka rating, Kempas is in the moderately-hard range for hardwood planks. They’re durable and solid enough to use for railroad ties and cabinetry. While your home can benefit from such a tough floorboard, Kempas is costlier than some hardwoods and more problematic to install.

Kempas hardwoods are often mistaken for Jatoba or Brazilian Cherry. Both exotic hardwood species have vibrant reddish-brown colors, but Kempas has a more contrasting color range. Kempas wood begins with a reddish or pinkish-brown hue but darkens to a deeper red-brown tone after applying a finish to it. From a distance, a finished Kempas hardwood flooring looks like red oak, but a closer look shows people an attractive coarse look with medium interlocking grains.

Despite its rising popularity, the wood flooring community has never fully embraced Kempas, and for years, there were two opposing views about them. The first group sees Kempas as an attractive, unique, and slightly affordable exotic hardwood. Businesses presented them well and sold based on their notable advantages and performed well as floors. The other group finds Kempas decent for an exotic hardwood specie but still inferior to Jatoba or Brazilian Cherry, which looks similar to them. Unlike Kempas, Jatoba hardwoods are more sought after by homeowners.

Advantages of Having Kempas Hardwood Flooring

Like any hardwood floor, Kempas wood is durable, long-lasting, and beautiful. While it has these features, they also have notable unique qualities that homeowners can enjoy. Here are some of their perks.


Kempas hardwood floors are more durable than most available hardwood flooring options today. They have a Janka hardness scale rating of 1710 and are tougher than the popular white oak and hard maple. In addition, most, if not all, Kempas wood flooring has heavy preservation treatments, which increases its lifespan.

The Kempas hardwood floorboards can also withstand daily and heavy wear and tear. They’re also resistant to decay and termite infestation, making them ideal for outdoor spaces like terraces and decks.


One of the benefits of owning exotic hardwood flooring is its unique and rich appearance. While many homeowners confuse them with Brazilian cherry, their wood color has an orangey-brown hue. In addition, they have more tone contrasts than Jatoba.

Buyers of Kempas hardwood floors love them because of their rich, high-end look. They have distinct and unique graining patterns, unlike the smooth, uniform grains like those in white oak and maple. These features make them a versatile addition to any room because they blend well and offer warmth in the space.

Disadvantages of Having Kempas Hardwood Flooring

While there are notable perks of owning Kempas hardwood floors, they also have their downsides. Here are some cons you need to consider before buying Kempas wood planks.


Kempas is in line with other high-grade hardwood floorings. This means their prices per plank are relatively higher than standard hardwood boards. Solid Kempas can range from 10 dollars to 15 dollars per square foot. Engineered hardwood Kempas floors would range between 12 dollars and 18 dollars per square foot.

Although they’re expensive, the price of Kempas is more reasonable than many of the hardwood floorings within their grade.


The main disadvantage of using Kempas wood for your floors is their workability. Many professional hardwood flooring installers report that they’re difficult to cut and nail. Most installers hesitate to work with Kempas hardwood floors and would sometimes add ridiculous surcharge because of it.

Their lack of workability is because the planks are hard and full of deposits. Due to the wood’s density, the tools and materials used for installing them need to be sharper than usual. In addition, Kempas has high acidity levels which can degrade metals.

Sustainability and Availability

Unlike other hardwood flooring planks, Kempas isn’t available in many countries outside Asia. Due to increasing concerns about shipping costs and maintenance, delivering Kempas planks in places far from Indonesia and Malaysia is costly, time-consuming, and impossible.

In addition, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists Kempas as conservation dependent. This means Malaysia and Indonesia need better conservation efforts to prevent the trees from becoming endangered. In the last few decades, the population of the Kempas wood species decreased significantly and needed a consistent watch.

Buying the Best Hardwood Flooring in Austin

In recent years, exotic hardwood floorings are becoming more popular in many US and Canadian households. Besides the Brazilian Cherry, Malaysia and Indonesia’s Kempas wood is making waves within the flooring industry. Despite the trends, not many people know about Kempas hardwood and their benefits as a floor for your home. This guide shows every detail you need to know before investing in Kempas hardwood floors.

Get in touch with a professional at Kelly Hardwood Floors for more information now.