Solid hardwood flooring is all the rage these days. Exotic hardwood in particular has become extremely popular in flooring for home and business. When you are thinking about using exotic solid hardwoods for your flooring, you should consider what your budget will allow, what colors will best suit your space, the level of durability you need, and what types of wood are best for the room. But you should also take ethics into consideration, for many exotic hardwoods are harvested in ways that decimate their forests of origin. As such, your choice should be guided by your needs as well as potential ecological consequences. Fortunately, it can be easy to satisfy both.
Pro: Distinctive grain, consistent color
Con: Unsustainably harvested
The wood with the striped grain has an undoubtedly checkered past. As a beautiful flooring option, zebrawood has been so overharvested that existing forests are being destroyed to meet desire in the West for this precious commodity. If you must have Zebra on your floors, buy from a company that “upcycles,” meaning that they derive their wood from pieces that have already been cut and used for other purposes.
2. Brazilian Cherry/Jatoba
Pro: Similar to mahogany in presentation
Con: Color change, white spots, gapping
Brazilian Cherry (also called Jatoba) is not technically a type of the domestic Cherry. In presentation, it is much more similar to mahogany, and is equally hard and resilient. That hardness can make it difficult to install and puts pressure on fittings, which can lead to gapping between boards. And like other brightly-colored hardwoods, it is sensitive to light and therefore susceptible to color change. Additionally, Brazilian Cherry is vulnerable to buildup of calcium carbonate, which leaves white spots that are difficult to remove.
Pro: Beautiful color and scent
Con: History of unsustainable harvesting
If you are looking for an exotic hardwood that will make your house look and smell beautiful, consider Rosewood. Its name is derived not from the coloring, but from the distinguishing scent of roses that emanates from the wood. Rosewood has a gorgeous natural polish. Like zebrawood, Rosewood has a history of unsustainable harvesting, but recently producers have been growing the wood sustainably on farms.
4. Tiger Wood
Pro: One of the most durable exotic hardwoods
Con: Unsustainably harvested, color change, white spots
It seems that most of the exotic hardwoods that are best for flooring have a questionable history. Tiger wood is no exception. The wood from this African tree has, you guessed it, been unsustainably harvested. Its durability and color has made Tiger wood a very attractive option for flooring. However, like Brazilian Cherry, it is susceptible to color change and white spots over time.
5. Teak Wood
Pro: Water-resistant, long-lasting
Con: White spots, gapping, potential allergic reaction
Teak wood originates in Southeast Asia. But more recently, it is also grown sustainably in Brazil. Additionally, upcycled Teak is readily available. This wood is resistant to both water and insects, and is long-lasting, making it ideal for bathrooms and kitchens. Its density, however, can make it difficult to install and leaves Teak at risk for gapping.
Whether you choose Brazilian Cherry, Rosewood, Zebra, Tiger or Teak, your hardwood floors will be a statement of character to anyone who sees them. And with some careful choices, it will reflect your moral considerations as well.
This article was written by Nicole, a blogger who has spent many years researching the home improvement industry, including everything from DIY home improvement projects to the best options for timber flooring in Perth.