Tropical Woods: How to be Different but Still Staying Safe
Nowadays we all want to be at the cutting edge of fashionable living. Being the first with the latest style of car, clothes and holiday destination is the absolute must for many people. Now this quest for individuality has spread over to flooring, with many high-end customers looking for the exotic hardwood flooring. Demand sends producers into the depths of jungles and tropical sub-forests in search of unusual hardwoods to please exacting clients and to enhance their own reputation.
Once the wood has been sourced the next challenge is how to import, produce and treat these woods whilst keeping the cost to manageable levels for all concerned. That’s no mean feat, but the results speak for themselves – exotic hardwoods, responsibly sourced and professionally managed, do look stunning and are always a talking point in any type of room. However professional management of exotic hardwoods into the UK is essential.
Purchasing exotic hardwood cheaply via an unknown source is a common error, with the low grade of the wood only becoming apparent when it arrives in port. Tropical hardwood must be extensively oven-dried and milled to professional standards if it is to retain its natural beauty and be something worth paying for. A poor quality floor will always come to light during the sanding and finishing process. Buy wood from a trusted and responsible source to avoid these problems.
Study your wood of choice before jumping in. Will the wood react adversely to the UK climate? Does the wood hold an excess of moisture? Is it high maintenance? Find out if anyone else has opted for this particular wood. If so are pictures available? Speak to a professional flooring expert before committing yourself to what may well be a costly mistake.
Be aware of possible allergic reaction to certain types of exotic wood (main culprits are Brazilian walnut, padauk and wenge) which once again underlines the absolute necessity of having any of these hardwoods properly treated and laid.
Because exotic hardwoods are extremely hard they may cause difficulties when laying and sanding in particular. Australian cypress, a good case in point, has knots of extreme hardness so when sanding this type of wood extreme care must be taken not to over-sand the areas surrounding the knots.
Many exotic wood species (such as amaranth and padauk with their strong colouring), exude dust which can stain furniture, fabrics and wall décor. The answer is to ensure top-class dust removal after floor Sanding.
Tigerwood and Brazilian walnut are oily woods, as is ipé (popular as an exotic decking material) and the resin will usually seep through to the surface after sanding. This problem is not insurmountable and can be overcome by specialist application of a waterborne finish.
The good news
Exotic hardwoods generally do not require staining and look beautiful on their own. It is important therefore to choose the wood that is exactly the colour required, as lightening or darkening with stain won’t be a viable option. However, the wood will naturally change, either lightening or darkening depending upon how much sunlight it is exposed to as well as the natural aging process.
There is no doubt that exotic hardwoods, responsibly sourced, treated, laid and finished are a source of delight for many years. Boardrooms, hotel banqueting areas and dance floors, top flight restaurants and clubs often choose tropical hardwood for its burnished look and natural shine.
A professionally fitted exotic hardwood floor is worth owning, but it is always a good idea to know a little about the wood you choose as well as being open to professional guidance which can often save you both money and heartache. Choose the right exotic hardwood floor for your needs and you will have a floor to be proud of for many years to come.