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Exotic Hardwood: Malaysian Kempas

Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Exotic Hardwood Malaysian KempasAre you looking to install a new floor in your home or office or retail store? Do you want to go a little exotic? Take a look at Malaysian Kempas. It's a durable, hard hardwood, perfect for flooring.

The terms sapwood and heartwood are often used in describing exotic hardwood. The two have distinctive characteristics that distinguish how best the wood can be used. The sapwood, or the wood that comes from the more outer layers of the tree, is actually white or a very pale yellow for Malaysian Kempas.

This is where the circulatory system of the tree is located, so it typically has more moisture and is more likely to succumb to shrinkage and is more susceptible to fungus. The heartwood, the more inner section of the tree, is actually composed of the aged sapwood, which migrates inward as the tree ages. This area of the tree is harder, denser, and is more often used for hardwood construction.

Kempas heartwood is actually a bit pink when it's freshly milled, but it darkens naturally to a bright reddish orange or darker red/brown. For flooring the results are a range of dark orange to a soft or dark brown. The graining can vary as well. Some Kempas hardwood flooring has a very fine, subtle grain and has smooth, clean look, and others have a more distinct, contrasting grain.

Both styles can be used for just about any style of décor. It can look great in a rustic setting but can also pull off the sleek, contemporary look as well. The biggest consideration is the color because most will lean toward the orange hue, which calls for a certain color scheme and feel that might not be in every lay-designer's palette.

One thing to think about regarding installation with Kempas is that it is a very dense wood and is difficult to resaw and to cross-cut after it is dried. And the nail property of the wood is rated poor, which means installation can be a bit tricky, so if you're a do-it-yourselfer, you might want to get some guidance or maybe reconsider and hire some help.

But done properly, Malaysian Kempas is a beautiful raw material and can be a stunning addition to your new project.