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Exotic Hardwood Flooring

By Adele Joy

Exotic hardwood flooring is great choice for those who want something special, with unique wood graining and coloration, giving your home truly distinctive appeal as well as enhancing its value. Certified manufacturers of exotic hardwood flooring promote sustainable forest practices, so rational harvesting from sustainable forests assures the health and continuity of this most valuable resource.

Exotic species of wood are those sourced from locations outside North America such as Brazil, Africa and Asia. The most common type of exotic hardwood flooring is Brazilian Cherry, though other popular types include Brazilian Walnut, Brazilian Teak, Tigerwood, Armagnac Angelim, Santos Mahogany and Tiete Chestnut.

  • Brazilian Cherry is open grained like oak, but it is about twice as hard. Much of its beauty derives from the dark streaks that contrast a background of dark orange and brown. This floor darkens within a few months of installation, deepening the beauty.

  • Brazilian Walnut is even harder, and ranges from a dark yellow to dark brown color and has fine graining that gives it a soft, silky look.

Because exotic hardwood flooring is generally much harder than domestic hardwood flooring, it is more durable and requires less maintenance and repair. For instance, a Brazilian Teak exotic hardwood floor, with its very high hardness rating, would be an excellent choice for the homeowner with a growing family, or even large pets. Exotic hardwood flooring is available both in solid planks and engineered boards.

When choosing exotic hardwood flooring, ensure you select a company that promotes sustainable forest practices by adhering to manufacturing principles that preserve and renew these natural resources. This is especially important as the harvesting of wood from areas such as Brazil contributes greatly to the economic vitality of these communities, and to ensure the continued prosperity of these communities, and the sustainability of their natural resources, responsible resource management is essential.

Manufacturers of exotic hardwood flooring should be certified and supported as environmentally responsible by resource management and forest certification organizations. Strictly monitored by these organizations, certified manufacturers create hardwood flooring only from timber that is selectively harvested under the principles of sustainable forest management. For example, after timber is harvested multiple trees are replanted, though it is important to make sure the same species of tree is planted as was originally growing there.

Some resource management and forest certification organizations include:

  • The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA)
  • SmartWood
  • Imaflora
  • The Certified Forest Products Buyers Group
  • The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Forest products approved by SmartWood and Imaflora are also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international organization that monitors and accredits companies that perform third-party forest audits. Products originating from certified forests provide assurances from an independent third party auditor that timber was harvested from “well managed” forests, adhering to the principles of sustainable forest management, including the preservation of wildlife habitat and water quality, while supporting the social and economic continuity of local communities.

An example of how these organizations do this can be found in Brazil’s IBAMA. It annually issues Forest Management Projects for the legal extraction of timber to a limited number of timber companies, outlined below:

  • Qualified applicants demonstrate their commitment to the practice of sustainable forest management before being awarded a certified Forest Management Project.

  • The cornerstone of these projects is selective timber harvesting, proven to produce the highest quality lumber while fostering natural reforestation by allowing immature trees in the upper-story to benefit from increased sunlight and water.

  • Approved commercial logging companies work only within the acreage of their designated approved Forest Management Project under established logging extraction guidelines, including minimum harvest diameters for each species of tree.

  • Prior to harvest, trees are carefully assessed for age and condition. Often susceptible to disease, older trees are harvested first, so that valuable resources are not left to waste away on the forest floor.



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