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Exotic Hardwood: Brazilian Teak

Posted: Monday, July 11, 2011

Exotic Hardwood Brazilian TeakCumaru, Almendrillo…Dipteryx, odorata…Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica…no, you haven't tuned into some crazy Latin travel channel. These are just some of the terms that surround an incredibly popular hardwood raw material: teak.

These names are the lumber classification and the species name, respectively. And they are found mainly in South America. Teak is so popular because of its almost granite-like strength. The Janka scale, which is a system that rates the density and strength of hardwood for flooring uses, rates Brazilian Teak at 3540, outranked only by its cousin, Brazilian Walnut at 3680.

To give you perspective, your more "ordinary" domestic white oak, which is a raw material that is used prolifically for hardwood flooring, ranks at well under half of that number, at 1360. So you can see why teak is the rockstar of the flooring world — with the abuse floors receive, the harder it is the more scratch and wear resistant and long-lasting it is. And teak flooring has been proven to be highly resistant to moisture in the form of water or snow, and it is naturally resistant to fungus and termite infestation.

There are a couple of, let's say, challenges to going with teak for your new hardwood floor. First is cost. Because of its over-harvestation in the past decades, a couple of teak species are endangered, and the overall population is far from prolific. The trees have a long growth cycle and demand a great deal of nutrients from the ground in which they are planted, so with the limited locations where this wood can grow, the supply has become rather scarce in economic terms, so you will definitely pay a premium for this material.

There is also concern that with the growing economies of countries like China and India, the demand will continue to rise with limited supply, so the price will likely stay high. Luckily managed teak plantations are being developed, but it will certainly be many years before sourced material will catch up with demand.

Also something you need to consider is that this wood can cause allergic respiratory reactions in some people as well as contact dermatitis. So you might want to have you and your family tested for reaction before installing this wood (especially if you will be doing your own sanding and finishing for a solid product).

Brazilian teak, with is its rich, luxurious texture and colors and it's amazing strength would be on anyone's wish list.