Tropical hardwood flooring options: African ebony
Many people have heard of ebony – in no small measure due to popular songs such as Ebony and Ivory – but surprisingly, many of them do not realise that far from being a material derived from tusk such as ivory is, ebony is actually a wood. Ebony also goes by a number of different names depending on its country of origin. It is called, for example, kukuo in Gambia, omenowa in Ghana, msindi in Tanzania and nyareti in Nigeria. As these nations demonstrate, ebony grows mainly in the equatorial region of West Africa.
Ebony is considered a solid choice for hardwood flooring because it possesses several outstanding characteristics. Because it is very dense, hard and heavy, it stands up well to the periodic hardwood floor sanding and finishing that wooden surfaces require. In addition, it is quite resistant to termite infestations, which can be an important consideration depending on the location of the new construction or renovation where hardwood flooring will be installed.
The appearance of ebony can change over time. When newly cut, the sapwood tends to have a pink hue. Over time, this will darken to a lovely reddish brown hue. The heartwood, in contrast, has a very dark brownish black colour – sometimes even showing the jet-black coloration that is popularly associated with the word ‘ebony’. Those who want the look of ebony without its other features can consider staining other woods to a very dark blackish brown hue, but such replacements may not have the strength and durability of true ebony.