Botanical Name: Myroxylon, Balsamum
Color: Santos mahogany is a dark reddish brown.
Grain: The grain of this lumber is even and close together or, if quarter sawn, may have a striped appearance.
Variations within Species and Grades: There is moderate variation of color within boards.
Hardness/Janka: The Janka scale rating for this timber is 2200.
Dimensional Stability: Santos mahogany has an above average dimensional stability.
Sawing/Machining: Because of the hardness of the wood it is moderately difficult to machine.
Sanding: Santos mahogany sands well.
Nailing: There are no known problems associated with sanding this type of flooring.
Finishing: An oily residue can cause some difficulties in applying finish. This can be resolved easily with proper preparation, however.
Availability: Asian mahogany is readily available.
Santos mahogany is one of the smaller hardwood trees. At maturity, the height of one of these trees rarely exceeds 100 feet. Santos mahogany can be found from Argentina north to Central America and southern Mexico.
The spicy scent of this timber has made it a popular component of perfumes, and it is also used in manufacturing balsam. As well as being used for flooring this type of mahogany has also been traditionally used in interior trim and furniture.
One of the easiest ways to determine the durability of a hardwood is by looking at its ranking on the Janka scale. The Janka scale ranges from zero to 4,000. The closer the score is to zero the less suitable it is as a hardwood flooring candidate because, at zero, a wood is much too soft. On the other hand, a score of 4,000 means a wood is much too hard to be machined in quantities large enough to be useful. Santos mahogany has a Janka scale rating of 2,200. While this is extremely high for hardwood flooring, it is still low enough to be machined effectively and provides decent durability.
Because of the hardness of this timber machining can be a bit difficult. It is very difficult to mill by hand, but using carbide tooling makes machining manageable. It sands satisfactorily and there are no known problems associated with nailing this type of flooring. An oily residue produced by the wood can make it difficult to apply a finish. However, if a pure solvent is applied, the residue can be removed, and a sealer or finish can be easily applied. Santos mahogany does have a potential to cause an allergic reaction or respiratory problems in some individuals, so caution is advised when working with this lumber. The same oil, or resin, that causes so many other problems in working this type of timber also provides the wood with good resistance to decay.
Where to use
Santos mahogany is a great choice for those that want the richness of the mahogany color but with more durability. As one of the most durable hardwoods available, it is a great choice for areas that do receive a large amount of foot traffic. Unlike some hardwood flooring options, this flooring can be confidently used in commercial setting as well as residential. However, as with other hardwood flooring options it is important to limit the exposure of the wood to excessive moisture or standing water.
Care and Maintenance
While this type of flooring is more resistant to damage than many other flooring options it is still important that careful care and preventative maintenance are not ignored. Properly caring for a hardwood floor will ensure that the beauty and investment are not unduly diminished. Preventative maintenance is the first step in this process. For areas of extremely high foot traffic, such as entryways, runners or rugs should be used. Heavy furniture need pads placed beneath the feet to prevent indents from occurring over time. Routine care also plays an important role in keeping the floors looking beautiful. The floors should be swept or vacuumed, on a hardwood setting, on a regular basis. This prevents sand and other gritty substances from scouring away the finish of the floor over time and reducing the luster.
Big leaf mahogany was becoming endangered and has since been placed on a protected list to prevent over cutting. It is now being processed in a more sustainable way.