Exotic Wood Flooring

April 11, 2008
exotic wood flooring
Exotic wood flooring is gorgeous, but at an environmental price if you don’t shop carefully. Laminate and engineered flooring makes good use of the rare exotic woods that people cherish for their homes and offices.

The warmth, beauty, and durability of exotic wood flooring appeal to a growing number of homeowners who want more than the traditional oak or maple statement. The woods available in exotic wood flooring are among the rarest and most expensive in the world. Selecting an exotic wood flooring is a major investment.

Most exotic wood flooring materials originate in South America, Australia, the far East and Africa. These woods are the world’s most treasured and beautiful. Some, in higher grades than are used in flooring, are made into fine musical instruments, cabinetry, and art work. Exotic wood flooring comes in a multitude of grades, grains, colors, and textures. You need to be aware of each wood’s appearance, stability, and hardness when shopping.

The appearance of exotic wood flooring can be radically different depending on how the wood was sawn. Quarter-sawn wood generally shows off the most dramatic grain. But quarter-sawing wastes much of the wood in a log and so the finished product is much more expensive. Generally, edge grain is the next most expensive variety of exotic wood flooring, while standard-sawn wood is least costly.

Solid exotic wood flooring can be purchased in thicknesses of 3/4 inch finished or unfinished boards, or in 5/16 inch finished boards. The widths of exotic wood flooring boards range from two to five inches.

Engineered exotic wood flooring is the second type available. Engineered wood is real wood, but instead of a solid plank it consists of three to ten thin layers of wood, called plies, that are assembled and glued in a cross-ply construction. Engineered exotic wood flooring is anywhere from 1/16 to 3/4 inches in thickness.

Choosing the correct type of exotic wood flooring depends on where the flooring is to be installed and what type of finished look you have in mind for the finished floor. “Thin profile”” or 5/16 inch exotic wood flooring, for example, can be glued directly to concrete floors without a subfloor, if the moisture content of the concrete is not too high.

Unfinished solid exotic wood flooring comes in three grades. The Clear grade has no visible blemishes or knots and is extremely expensive. The Select and Better quality exotic wood flooring grades have some small knots and very little dark grain. The #1 Common and #2 Common grades have more knots and more dark grain.

All solid exotic wood flooring will expand and contract to varying degrees during extremely wet or dry seasons. This can cause gaps to appear between boards. Engineered exotic wood flooring is much more stable and better suited to basements or other areas where moisture and humidity vary a lot.

Site-finished versus factory-finished exotic wood flooring is an ongoing debate. Fans of factory-finish prefer the no-fuss installation; sanding, sealing and finishing are unnecessary, and one just installs the flooring. Site-finished exotic wood flooring can be sanded to eliminate unevenness between boards, and finished with a polyurethane coating that can be renewed every 15-20 years.

The rainforests of the world are being depleted by low-price, unscrupulous harvesters. Be sure to ask if the supplier of your exotic wood flooring uses wild or farm-raised woods.

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