Exotic species of Wood Flooring
The number of wood flooring options on the market today is enough to boggle the mind, and the array of exotic species as a sub-category can be especially confusing because of environmental and illegal logging issues associated with them. Yet there continues to be a strong demand for the unique look of exotics, and that is likely to continue especially at the higher end. While imports from across the globe continue to flood world markets, the U.S. market for exotics is beginning to be regulated through customs and recent action by Congress to ban illegal imports. So how do you know what you are buying or selling is good or green wood? You can’t know without credible third-party verification such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal. Major wood manufacturers, in fact, are moving away from the category entirely with exotic look-alikes and flooring that challenges other qualities found in exotic species. The appeal of exotics is aesthetic and hardness. Many of the exotics available are equal to or harder than red oak-the standard by which all wood characteristics
are judged. Wood is generally one of the more expensive flooring materials, and exotic species add to that cost. Although exotic woods are substantially more expensive than traditional woods, there is a strong perception that higher-end product is worth the investment as an easy way to add luxury and elegance to any interior setting while creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Some of the more popular exotics on the market include Brazilian cherry or jatoba as it is called in South America-arguably the most popular as it accounts for an estimated 10%-12% of all wood sales. Yet many domestic species such as hickory, walnut and pecan are stirring interest among consumers because of similar aesthetic characteristics. Technological advancements at the manufacturing level, such as with engineered wood, have allowed these
products to be more affordable since less of the exotic wood is used while still maintaining all the positive features that have made them popular among homeowners and decorators. In fact, the use of technology to create engineered floors has allowed the industry to make better use of the raw material. For example, 3/4-inch solid generally requires 1.9 board feet of lumber to produce 1 square foot of finished floor while a 3/8- inch engineered with a 2mm thick face requires just .2 board feet of face material to produce the same amount, when combined with other layers of veneer.