Botanical Name: Cumaru, Tonka, S.Chestnut. A native to South America, the Brazilian teak tree may grow to be as large as 120 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It has a variety of uses, most notably as hardwood flooring. Installing the floor may cause contact dermatitis. Use proper safety equipment when installing and avoid direct contact of raw wood to skin if you have sensitive skin.
Color: Before exposure to UV light, Brazilian teak is a reddish brown or purple brown color, with yellowish brown or purple streaks in it. After exposure, it will be a light brown in color or yellow brown throughout.
Grain: The Brazilian Teak grain is fine, interlocked, and has an oily or waxy feel.
Variations within Species and Grades: As the floor matures, the intense shading begins to fade.
Hardness/Janka: 3540. With this rating, Brazilian teak is nearly twice as hard as the traditional Northern Red Oak.
Dimensional Stability: Coming in at 7.6, this ranks with an average dimensional stability, at about 12% more stable than Northern Red Oak.
Sawing/Machining: Since the wood is very hard, the equipment used should be carbide. The sanding and machining qualities of the wood are good.
Sanding: Sanding the wood may prove difficult because scratches are easily seen. If each sanding does not remove all marks from the previous one, then these marks will be seen in the finish.
Nailing: For Brazilian teak, it is best to pre-drill and nail by hand because the wood is so hard.
Finishing: When finishing Brazilian teak, test all finishes before using them on the entire floor. Some oil based finishes may not dry completely unless special instructions are followed. Moisture cured urethanes and water based finishes are the best way to go.
Availability: Moderately available.
A Brief History of Brazilian Teak
Besides being used for hardwood flooring, the Brazilian teak is also used as an ingredient in shampoos, soap, and perfumes. It is good for outdoor decks and marine applications. It grows in various areas of South America outside of Brazil including Costa Rica and Peru. It is one of the hardest woods in the world.
As one of the hardest woods available in the world, Brazilian teak is a highly durable floor. However, this does not mean it can be cared for any less because those floors that are not taken care of properly will show their age earlier than those that are, regardless of the species and durability of the wood. It is used in a variety of applications requiring it to withstand wear and tear, such as the marine industry.
Brazilian teak has excellent sawing and machining qualities, but carbide blades and drill bits should be used to prevent damage to the tools because of how hard the wood is. Sanding proves difficult because the scratches will show easily. If there is a mark left on the floor from the previous sanding, it will show up in the finish. Nailing is also difficult because of the hardness of the wood, so it is recommended to pre-drill the holes and nail by hand. Finishing is tricky because of the fact that oil based finishes may not dry on the wood. It is important to test the finish on a small area of the floor before using it on the entire floor to ensure it will dry completely. Water based finishes work the best. Working directly with Brazilian teak may cause contact dermatitis, so those who are prone to allergic reactions should be careful and wear gloves. Using prefinished Brazilian teak hardwood flooring can minimize contact with the raw wood.
Where to Use
Brazilian teak can be used in any residential or commercial application where the hardness and color of the wood species is desired. It can be used outside for decking, as well.
Care and Maintenance
Like all other hardwoods, caring and maintaining Brazilian teak relies on the finish used, rather than the type of wood itself. Since it is difficult to get oil based finishes to completely dry on Brazilian teak, it is recommended to use water based finish. Use mats by doors and rugs in high traffic areas to protect the floor finish. Use a cloth mop and/or vacuum to remove dust, dirt, and other debris from the floor to prevent scratches. Use foam or cloth protectors under furniture legs to prevent their movement from scratching the floor. Clean up spills immediately to prevent the liquid from seeping into the floor.
The Brazilian teak tree is one of the most abundant trees in the rain forest. As the rain forest is in danger and is logged and harvested frequently, the tree is becoming sparser. As these trees are harvested before they are fully matured, the species may become endangered.