Botanical Name: Hymenaea courbaril
Brazilian cherry is a species of cherry tree from South America. It is one of the hardest woods available for hardwood floors. When aged, the wood is deep and rich in color, which is one of its most desirable qualities. This wood species is the most popular imported species of wood on the market today.
Color: When the wood is first harvested, it will be tan, yellow, or a pink salmon color depending on whether it is heartwood or sapwood. With age and exposure to sunlight, it will darken to a deep reddish brown color.
Grain: The grain is generally consistent with an interlocked appearance. It is rough which makes it difficult to mill and install.
Variations within Species and Grades: There is a high variation of color within species and grades.
Hardness/Janka: With a hardness of 2,820, this wood species is more than 100% harder than the traditional red oak.
Dimensional Stability: Brazilian cherry is rated at 8.5, which makes it average, and 1% more stable than traditional red oak. It is important to note however, the actual installations have shown considerable movement. To combat this, leave the wood in the room it will be installed in for a longer period of time before installing it.
Sawing/Machining: Since the wood is so hard, it is difficult to saw and mill. When it is done, it requires frequent sharpening of tools used to complete the job. It is recommended to use carbide tools. It can be machined smooth.
Sanding: Sanding this kind of wood is difficult because of how easily the scratches can be seen. It is important to follow recommendations exactly to prevent scratches because they will be visible beneath the finish.
Nailing: Making sure to get the correct angle is considerably important when nailing Brazilian Cherry because of the hardness of the wood. If a pneumatic nailer is used to install the floor, the air pressure should be adjusted accordingly.
Finishing: Try to avoid an oil modified polyurethane finish, because this may cause white spots to show up on the floor and there is no known way to remove them, other than by using a different board. Using a clear sealer or neutral colored stain and then buffing a satin polyurethane finish onto the floor will avoid this problem.
Availability: Brazilian cherry is easily available.
A Brief History of Brazilian Cherry
The Brazilian cherry tree is frequently seen throughout various areas in South America. It is a tree frequently seen in the rainforest, and as such is becoming increasingly endangered.
With a Janka Scale rating of 2,820, this floor is very hard, strong, and durable. However, scratches will show easily on the floor because of its dark color, so it is important to treat the floor with care. The floor will darken faster when exposed to sunlight. With little to no sunlight exposure, it will darken over a period of several months. Using a water based finish will make it darken at a slower rate, but an oil based finish will enhance the overall look of the flooring.
The hardness of the wood makes it difficult to work with. Tools must be frequently sharpened to handle the cutting and shaping of the wood for flooring or any other purpose. Nailing is difficult because the angle must be adjusted to account for the hardness of the wood. Sanding is difficult because of how easily scratches can be seen on the surface.
Where to Use
Since Brazilian cherry is so hard, it can be used in both residential and commercial applications. It can be used in any room where the floor’s darkening color will complement the décor. While it is believed that Brazilian cherry flooring won’t move too much, it is recommended to keep water away from it whenever possible.
Care and Maintenance
The care and maintenance of the floor is determined more by the finish rather than the wood species itself. As with any wood floor, rugs and mats should be used in high traffic areas to protect the finish and prevent scratches. Clean the floor on a regular basis with a cloth mop to keep dirt from scratching the floor. As this wood is harder than many others used for flooring, it can likely withstand more wear and tear with less damage, though it is important to remember that how the floor is cared for will be a bigger factor in how it looks as it ages than the Janka Scale rating.
The Brazilian cherry tree is considered endangered by some. This means using it for flooring may pose some environmental issues for our rainforests. If you choose to use this wood, discuss the manufacturing methods with the vendor.