When it comes to choosing the right wood for your floors, you must consider the differences between domestic and exotic wood. Each type has its own benefits and strengths. Domestic and exotic hardwood lumber bring together a wide range of aesthetic and practical considerations when choosing your hardwood floor. They all vary with different characteristics like color, hardness and availability.
Domestic hardwoods refer to any and all species found in North America like Oak, Birch, Maple and American Cherry. Domestic hardwood flooring is considered to have a warmer, more traditional appearance.
Exotic hardwoods are species found around the world, usually coming from the more tropical areas. Some common exotic species are Brazilian Cherry, Brazilian Walnut (Ipe), Purple Heart and Australian Cypress. Exotic hardwood flooring is considered to have a more striking appearance, giving off a more contemporary/modern look.
The natural change in color of all wood species over time is a process caused by oxidation and exposure to light over time. This can happen on finished and unfinished wood and varies by species as to whether it darkens or lightens in color. Exotic hardwoods such as Brazilian Cherry may change color very rapidly and drastically while a domestic hardwood like Red Oak may be much slower with minimal changes in color variation. Check with your floor care professional to get a better idea of what to expect when your floors age.
A wood floor is only as hard as the species of wood that is installed and not determined by the finish topcoat. Domestic hardwoods are softer than most exotic species, ranking in the low-medium range in hardness. Exotic hardwoods are harder and denser than domestic wood. However, it is important to remember that hardness is not the only factor when considering a durable floor. With modern industry practices, both types of wood will provide you with a floor that will last a lifetime.
When it comes to domestic vs. exotic hardwood flooring, availability can become a key issue. The availability of species will depend heavily on specific trends in your area. Because of availability issues, some exotic hardwoods may only come in specific sizes and cuts. Generally, some people choose domestic hardwood flooring over exotic to support sustainable practices and local jobs.