Thinking Outside the Box Store: Exotic Hardwoods

8 05 2012

What is the most important thing to you when choosing a floor?  Most people say the look.  You want a stylish and unique-looking floor in your home.  You don’t want to settle for the same floor as the guy next door and who can blame you?  A floor sets the tone of a room and there are few better choices than an exotic hardwood floor.  With exotics you can stay trendy while maintaining that classic hardwood feel.  And in terms of wood species, there is an endless selection.

What Makes Exotic Hardwood Different?

Durability and appearance are the most important factors of exotic hardwood.  They tend to be harder on the Janka scale and more unique looking than a domestic hardwood option.  Exotic also means that the wood was harvested abroad unlike a domestic product that originates here in America.

What’s Hot in Exotic Hardwood?

There are literally hundreds of different types of exotic hardwoods and some are trendier than others.  Here are a few that have become popular over the past few years:

Asian Kempas Flooring

Asian Kempas Flooring

Asian Kempas

Kempas wood comes from very humid locations, like in or around rain forests.  It’s most prominently found in Indonesia but can also come from Thailand and Singapore.  The main reason Kempas flooring has become popular is its durability.  It is a hard wood and can withstand varying weather conditions, ideal for places where weather patterns change frequently.  Its look varies from light brown to an almost cherry color that is very sleek and rich.

Tigerwood Flooring

Tigerwood Flooring


Tigerwood is grown in a few different countries in South America and in certain areas of Mexico as well.  The color varies pretty heavily with Tigerwood.  The key characteristic being that the stripes resemble a tiger.  The color can go from a reddish brown to a more yellow with darker stripes.  It is also extremely durable and scratch resistant making solid tigerwood flooring an ideal fit for high traffic areas.

Santos Mahogany

Santos Mahogany

Santos Mahogany

Santos Mahogany is best known for its density, hardness, and stability.  Santos Mahogany is harder than traditional mahogany making it a better option in regards to flooring.  Mahogany is found throughout South America wherever there are rain forests and tropical climates.  Mahogany is also very durable due to its density.  It is a very strong wood and can be a problem when making cuts.  Santos Mahogany flooring will surely give any space a truly classy touch.

Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba)

Brazilian Cherry

Brazilian Cherry

The Jatoba tree is indigenous to South America and areas around the Caribbean.  It ranges in color from red to salmon.  Brazilian Cherry flooring remains the most popular of all the exotic wood options, especially in the Northeast.  The main reason for its popularity is the unique red shine of the wood.  It gives any room a very classy feel.  Most people feel it is a nice medium between fancy and practical and remains a very popular choice in modern American homes.

Even after choosing the species of wood you want in your home, there are still other options to choose such as whether your space requires an engineered exotic hardwood or a solid hardwood.  Be sure to ask your flooring retailer or installer questions about what works best for your space.  As always, working with a qualified professional, such as those who have NWFA certification, will make the process much easier and more enjoyable.




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