With an impressive durability and unique appearances, exotic hardwoods are an excellent choice for the homeowner who wants the durability of hardwood but wants something a little different at the same time. Exotic hardwoods offer a variety of coloration and patterns that are not commonly seen in domestic hardwood flooring. Learn more about what makes a wood floor exotic, the durability they offer, and how to care for your exotic wood flooring.
What Are Exotic Hardwoods?
This type of hardwood is defined as any type of wood found outside of the United States that is imported into the country. Brazil, Australia, Africa and countries in the Far East offer a large variety of woods not native to the U.S. There are over 100 species of trees that are considered exotic to North America and offer a distinctive and visually striking appearance that differs from standard American hardwood floors.
Exotic hardwood floors, like standard hardwood floors, are manufactured in both solid hardwood and engineered assortments. Solid hardwood is a single slat of wood; engineered wood is a sandwich of laminated wood with real hardwood veneer on the top layer.
All wood is subject to the Janka Hardness Rating scale to detect its strength. This hardness test measures the force required to embed a .444 inch steel ball to half its diameter into the wood. The Janka Rating is the industry standard for assessing the ability of various wood species to endure pressure and determine the energy needed to nail and saw the wood.
Tests performed by the U.S. Forestry Lab indicate that most exotic woods are frequently more durable than other types of hardwoods. Brazilian Teak, for example, has a rating of 3,540, which makes it perfect to handle the abuse of large families with indoor pets. African Mahogany has a score of 830 and is more likely to be damaged by heavy traffic and scuffed by your pet’s nails.
Care and Maintenance
Exotic hardwood flooring, like domestic hardwood floors, require little maintenance to uphold their luster. Wipe spills immediately and limit any exposure to water. Regularly dust and sweep to reduce the risk of dirt buildup. Only use mild solvents designed explicitly for hardwood floors, making sure to avoid harsh abrasives and scouring pads. A natural cleaner of equal parts white vinegar and water usually works best, but you must be sure to dry the floor completely when finished cleaning.
Always use caution when moving large pieces of furniture or heavy equipment across the floor. Although exotic hardwoods are durable and sturdy, they still have limits and will scratch and dent when too much weight is scraped the wrong way across the floor. Furniture coasters and lifting straps can help protect the life of your floor.
Many varieties of exotic wood floors are photosensitive, so avoid leaving them unprotected in direct sunlight as they may change color over time. Close curtains and blinds when possible and use rugs in areas that could be affected.