When we think of wood floors and furniture, we think of oak, cherry, maple, hickory, alder, and mahogany. Exotic woods from South America, Africa and Asian are becoming popular with their high density, strength and durability. The hardness of any type of wood is measured by the Janka value. The higher the Janka rating is a good indication of how well that species of wood will stand up to denting and wear and tear.
There are six more commonly used species. They are Ipe, Santos Mahogany, Cumaru, Jatoba, Massaranduba, and Tigerwood. They are becoming popular enough that the cost is not quite what you expect it to be. Their Janka ratings are higher than any species grown in North America.
Ipe is a versatile and durable wood that comes from Brazil. It is extremely dense and is virtually clear of knots. It ranges from red amber hues to a dark brown. The Janka rating is 3600. The wood has to be pre-drilled before installation.
Santos Mahogany is a very dense and stable wood from Brazil. It is a very rich, dark Mahogany color. The Janka rating is 2200. Santos is commonly used to make furniture, cabinets, entry doors, stairs and is great for flooring.
Cumaru is also another Brazilian Cherry wood. It ranges in color from tan brown to a reddish brown with some pieces having black striping. There is very little color change with exposure to the sun (which is commonly a problem with cherry). This wood is actually a Class A fire resistant wood. The Janka rating is 3540. This wood is very difficult to saw and it has a high blunting effect on tools. It glues poorly, and it is absolutely necessary for it to be pre-drilled.
Massaranduba is a Brazilian Redwood. It is a rich consistent red color. Only the heart wood of the tree is used; this is the inner part of the tree. It is a very durable wood and resistant to denting and traffic wear. The Janka rating is 3190. Due to its hardness, it is hard on tools and difficult to sand and finish. A professional is recommended to install.
Tigerwood is our favorite. It is another Brazilian wood. It is orange/red brown background with wide dark brownish black striping. It is just stunning! The Janka rating is 2160. It is also a durable wood with resistance to denting and traffic wear. Limited difficulty with hand and power tools. It is a dramatically elegant flooring.