Brazilian Cherry Hardwood Floors Cost Guide
Brazilian Cherry flooring has become increasingly popular in homebuilding and remodeling in the past decade or two because of its durability and its rich color, but Brazilian Cherry is a bit of a misnomer. It is not at all a cherry tree. Though this wood can indeed come from the Brazilian rainforest, it is not exclusive to Brazil and can come from Central America, northern South America, southern Mexico, and the West Indies. Its true name is jatoba, not Brazilian Cherry, and it can also be referred to as locust or courbaril.
- Minimum: $4 or $5 for good quality
- Maximum: $8 and $9 for the best quality
Advantages & Disadvantages
Although the imported Brazilian Cherry doesn’t have a lot in common with domestic cherry varieties, it does get its name from its beautiful natural cherry color. The hues of the heartwood ranges from a light burnt orange-brown to a deep darker red-brown, and planks sometimes have contrasting darker gray-brown streaks. With exposure to light, these colors grow darker and richer. It also has a beautiful interlocking grain. Combine this visual appeal with an impressive hardness and durability and it is clear why Brazilian Cherry hardwood has become popular for both residential and commercial projects. In addition, Brazilian Cherry is a very inexpensive alternative to teak which it closely resembles.
The Brazilian Cherry’s extreme hardness may be an advantage in many uses, but it also creates some disadvantages. Wood from the jatoba tree is difficult to mill and extremely difficult to install, prompting experts to recommend professional installation versus a do-it-yourself project since Brazilian Cherry needs special installation considerations. Nailing and sanding of this hardwood are equally challenging. Nailing must be done at the correct angle, and pneumatic nail guns must be reset to accommodate its hardness. Additionally, improper sanding of this hardwood will show excessive scratches. Brazilian Cherry’s hardness will also quickly dull tools.
The hardness of this wood can create some additional installation challenges. It is not recommended for “floating” floors since there can be an excessive movement, so the planks must be nailed down. In addition, Brazilian Cherry needs more acclimation time than most woods, so this can cause a longer timeline for installation.
For many, Brazilian Cherry’s origin is another clear disadvantage. Jatoba comes from the depleting rainforests of South America, and it is considered to be endangered by some; therefore, it is not a “green” building material. For those looking for Brazilian Cherry that has the least amount of environmental impact, search for wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Durability & Upkeep
Brazilian Cherry’s hardness makes it extremely rot and pest resistant; it is even resistant to termites, making it a wise flooring investment, but this same hardness and durability, as well as its color, make it susceptible to visual scratches. The interlocking nature of its medium to coarse grain can make these scratches even more noticeable.
If one would like to slow the darkening of the wood, avoid direct exposure to sunlight and use a water-based finish. UV-protecting stains are also available which can protect Brazilian Cherry from extreme sun, making it possible to use Brazilian Cherry in outdoor living spaces, such as a sunny deck, but homeowners should beware of the deeper, darker appearance that will result from direct exposure to sunlight and any oil-based finishes.
Although Brazilian Cherry is harder than most other hardwoods, dirt and heavy traffic will cause wear and tear. To protect any hardwood flooring, use rugs and mats in high-traffic areas, and regularly use a cloth mop to remove dirt and dust that will contribute to scratching.
Brazilian Cherry can come from the sapwood or the heartwood of jatoba tree. When first cut, the sapwood from the living, outermost edge of the tree is tan, gray, or slightly yellow, whereas the more expensive heartwood from the center of the tree is an orange, pink, or light salmon color.
Brazilian Cherry is available for purchase either unfinished or prefinished. Many contractors choose unfinished for new constructions. If one chooses unfinished with the goal of applying a finishing coat, remember that the colors of the hardwood will darken with sunlight and time, so choose a stain or finish coat wisely, avoiding darker stains. Because of this darkening, many contractors suggest using a clear coat on unfinished Brazilian Cherry or choose a clear-coated, prefinished product.
For those seeking the deep, beautiful tones of Brazilian Cherry without the challenges of installing this very hardwood, there are both laminate and vinyl products available in “Brazilian Cherry” that duplicate this color. These products are significantly cheaper and easier to install than hardwood, but neither have the natural texture and inherent durability of Brazilian Cherry.
The Value of the Hardness
The durability and hardness of the wood from the jatoba tree make it a practical choice for many building and carpentry projects, including:
- Tool handles
- Turned objects
- Other small specialty items
In spite of some daunting disadvantages, Brazilian Cherry hardwood flooring does add a luxuriousness and richness to residential and commercial projects without a huge price tag usually associated with hardwood flooring.
Last updated on May 9, 2016
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