Botanical Name: Prosopis glandulosa
Mesquite has the reputation as the hardest North American wood. As such, it is a common choice for hardwood floors, furniture, and even curing meat. When used for flooring, it is a strong, durable choice, weighing in at more than three pounds per square foot, at 3/4″ thickness.
Color: Mesquite ranges in color from a light brown color to a darker brown with red undertones.
Grain: Mesquite ranges in color from a light brown color to a darker brown with red undertones.
Variations within Species and Grades: Typically there is only one grade and there is little color variation within it.
Hardness/Janka: With a Janka rating of 2,345, it is the hardest North American wood, and is 82% harder than the traditional Northern Red Oak.
Dimensional Stability: The dimensional stability rating is 3.2, which makes it 63% more stable than the traditional Northern Red Oak. It is only this stable when fully cured.
Sawing/Machining: Mesquite is a good choice for sawing and machining as it is not too difficult to work with.
Sanding: : If the mesquite is plainsawn, it can be sanded smooth with ease. If it is sawn any other way, it is harder to sand the rough edges. To combat this, sand the wood at a 45 degree angle to the grain.
Nailing: Nailing will make boards split easily. To avoid this, adjust the angle at which the nail is driven into the tongue.
Finishing: There are no known problems associated with finishing mesquite.
Availability: There is limited availability of mesquite.
A Brief Background on Mesquite
Mesquite is a small tree, usually no taller than 30 feet. Many of the trees are more like shrubs when it comes to their size. The trees grow in Texas and New Mexico, California, Kansas and Utah. The tree is known for lowering the groundwater tables because of its ability to hold water. Mesquite smoke is used to flavor meats and other foods. The tree’s flower even produces nectar that allows bees to make mesquite honey.
Mesquite is an extremely durable hardwood, as it is the hardest North American species. While there are other hardwoods much harder than mesquite, this is one of the most durable flooring options on the market. In spite of its hardness and strength, it should still be treated with care as any other wood floor would be, because that will determine how good it looks years after the installation.
The hardness of the wood makes it difficult to saw and work with using tools that are not designated for such purpose. It has good machining qualities, though, so it is commonly used for furniture and complex woodworking designs.
Where to Use
Due to its strength and durability, mesquite can be used in both residential and commercial settings. It works well in high traffic areas, and in areas where moisture may be a concern, so long as the wood has been fully cured.
Care and Maintenance
Just because mesquite is among the hardest wood species available, it does not mean it needs to be treated with any less care and respect. Though it will likely be able withstand more from pets and young children without showing visible signs of damage, it is still important to care for it as directed by the finish. Since it is the type of finish used on the floor, rather than the species of wood, that determines the proper care and maintenance, pay special attention to those instructions.
Take precautionary measures to protect the finish by using rugs and mats to reduce the dirt and debris that gets carried in from the outdoors on shoes. Don’t wear high heels, and keep pets claws trimmed. Use a cloth mop at least once a week or use a broom and vacuum to keep the floor clear of dust, dirt, and other debris.
The mesquite tree will grow in shaded areas where other trees will not typically flourish. They take water from the ground, thus making it harder for some other plants and trees to thrive in areas around them. Some people see the tree as a nuisance, but because it doesn’t grow everywhere and has many uses besides flooring, there is not an abundant supply available.