Popular Exotic Hardwood Flooring Species – St. Louis Floors

exotic hardwood species

What Exotic Hardwood Species is Right for You?

When looking through hardwood flooring selections, you may see both “Domestic” and “Exotic” hardwood designations. Domestic hardwood flooring wood species like red oak, white oak, maple have always been the standard for hardwood flooring in homes across the United States.

Exotic Species have a tendency of more color variation from board to board and more unusual grain patterns. There is a growing trend among homeowners opting for exotic species because they provide natural warmth and offer more of a one-of-a-kind appearance than a traditional oak floor.

Typically, exotic wood species score higher on the Janka Hardness Scale (The higher the number, the harder the wood; providing better durability) than standard domestic wood species. Exotic wood species look beautiful in any setting: casual, elegant, modern, etc.

You can purchase exotic species in any construction and style: solid, engineered, hand scraped, click-locking, laminate, and even vinyl. Review the descriptions below for more detailed information on specific exotic wood species. Also, the flooring specialists at Just Around The Corner in St. Louis can guide you to the brands that specialize in each the species listed below.


Also known as Brazilian Oak, Amendoim is a favorite among the exotic wood species found in hardwood flooring. With a beautiful golden/reddish brown tone ranging from light to medium in color, Amendoim is distinctive because of its almost holographic appearance. Generally, grain patterns for Amendoim appear very light and blend into the wood’s warm backdrop. The color of Amendoim will become richer and darken with exposure to light with stabilization at approximately three months.


Basically, hardness the of Bamboo is determined by the harvesting time of the grass. Cheaper brands, generally Chinese brands, are looking for fast milling periods and hardness of the product will decrease.

Hardwood Flooring GuideBrazilian Cherry

Brazilian Cherry is also known as Jatoba. This exotic wood species is known for its extreme color variation and high Janka Hardness rating. It is easily the most popular exotic wood species choice for hardwood flooring. Color patterns include reddish/brown tones, reddish/blonde highlights and occasionally deep red selections.

Homeowners love the unique mosaics created by Brazilian Cherry flooring. The coloring of Brazilian Cherry also gets richer and darkens with exposure to light to create a beautiful work of art in your home. Unique graining of Brazilian Cherry also helps create a more interesting room.

A tip for installing Brazilian Cherry: Continuously have 4 to 5 cartons open during installation and try to plan out rooms before securing flooring to ensure a balanced room. Since Brazilian Cherry is hugely popular right now, every manufacturer has a variation of it.

Brazilian Teak

Cumaru is another common name for Brazilian Teak. This is one of the hardest wood species available for hardwood flooring. The initial color range includes tan to medium brown tones with limited reddish highlights.

Over time, with exposure to light, this color variation with Brazilian Teak evens out a bit and the floor will become more uniform in color (to basically a medium brown color). Brazilian Teak has minimal graining, but sometimes a limited amount of darker graining.

Brazilian Walnut

Brazilian Walnut is also commonly referred to as Ipe. A very hard wood species, Brazilian Walnut works well in high traffic areas (a reason many homeowners will opt for this exotic variety of walnut rather than the domestic American Walnut). There is moderate color variation. Straight grains mixed with irregular patterns create an interesting visual, perfect for warm and elegant rooms.


This highly durable exotic wood species is typically full of red tones with very light graining. Before it is exposed to light, Kempas does have somewhat reddish orange tones, which will deepen to the reds after about three months of exposure to light. There is generally slight color variation from board to board.


Merbau creates a dark mosaic, with colors ranging from yellow/brown to orange/brown. With exposure to light, Merbau will darken, and red/gold highlights will appear over the chocolate brown backdrop. Graining for Merbau is typically interlocking patterns of both wavy and linear lines.

Santos Mahogany

Also known as Cabrueva, Santos Mahogany is the 2nd most popular choice of exotic hardwood flooring (after Brazilian Cherry). Like Brazilian Cherry, there is quite a bit of color variation showing in the Santos Mahogany, but it’s a bit more toned down.

Color variation ranges from medium brownish/orange to dark brown. Graining is wavy and incorporates an open pattern. Color will become richer over time with exposure to light, with total stabilization at approximately three months.

Tiete Chestnut

Also known as Sucupira, Tiete Chestnut offers colors ranging from tan to dark reddish brown. This exotic wood species creates a unique appearance with its course graining and limited black striping.

Tiete Rosewood

This exotic wood species is known for its pinkish rose color with fine, linear graining. Tiete Rosewood will darken over time, the color becoming a richer red (stabilizing at approximately three months).


The exotic wood species Tigerwood is also known as Bolivian Koa. Graining of Tigerwood includes dark, thick striping on a backdrop of pale gold and medium brown. Tigerwood typically looks best on wider planks (think 5 IN. and wider) because of the intense graining.

Tigerwood on more narrow boards tends to create a busy appearance and may become distracting in your room. Color does get richer with exposure to light, stabilizing after about three months and making darker graining a bit more subtle.


Timborana is a rich colored exotic wood, starting out as golden brown with red highlights. With exposure to light, reddish tones will deepen, accentuating the fine graining of natural Timborana.

JATC Is Here to Help

If you need help finding the right hardwood species for your new floor, the hardwood professionals at Just Around The Corner would be happy to help.

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