Botanical Name: Astronium Fraxinifolium Tigerwood grows naturally in the in the neotropical forests of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico. Color ranges from a pale cream to a rich reddish-orange hue in the dramatic streaking pattern that gives the wood its name. Tigerwood has an irregular grain that may be mottled, wavy or interlocked and a fine texture with a medium to dull luster.
Tigerwood typically changes color over time when exposed to sunlight. The lighter sapwood will darken, and the dramatic contrast of the colors will become subtler. The wood is oily with a natural resistance to insects, fungus, moisture, and decay. The Goncalo alves tree that produces tigerwood belongs to the Anacardiaceae family along with sumac and cashew trees, encompassing about 600 species altogether worldwide, including pepper, mango, and pistachio trees.
The use of tigerwood became common in the early 1900s. Early use was in instruments, notably pipe organs and violins. Other uses included outdoor furniture, decking, shutters, and boat building, due to its remarkable water-resistant properties. Its distinctive grain patterns make tigerwood a popular choice for decorative purposes, such as fine furniture, jewelry boxes, knife handles, pistol grips, cabinetry, and carvings. The durability of tigerwood makes it suitable for use in light and heavy construction to build mine timbers, pilings, posts, railroad ties, ladders, and joinery.
The durability of tigerwood makes it suitable for use in light and heavy construction to build mine timbers, pilings, posts, railroad ties, ladders, and joinery. The Janka scale uses 0.444″ steel ball pushed into a a 2″ x 2″ x 6″ piece to determine how hard the wood is. The test determines out how many pounds per square inch, or PSI, of force is needed to push the steel ball half way into the wood plank.
Janka ratings this high indicate extreme durability. Tigerwood may be found as solid flooring or a veneer surface on engineered flooring. Solid tigerwood flooring can be sanded and refinished many times over the life of the floor. High-end engineered flooring may be sanded up to five times (read the manufacturers instructions for details). This is an investment in flooring with a long lifespan and a resiliency that can stand up to a lot of traffic.
The heavy presence of oils in the wood makes tigerwood difficult to cut, and it will dull cutting edges quickly. Carbide-tipped cutting instruments are recommended. Nailing or screwing can also be difficult, and so pre-boring is suggested. The wood will hold the nails well after installation. Tigerwood can be glued, floated, nailed, or stapled; however, the oils in the wood can interfere with the glue, so presetting is suggested.
Oil based finishes are not recommended for use on tigerwood flooring, but most water-based finishes work well. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for guidance. If refinishing is necessary, it should be noted that tigerwood dust is an allergen and may cause respiratory reactions, eye irritation, or contact dermatitis (rash) in some people.
Where to use
Wood floors are not generally recommended for use in rooms where standing water is common, like bathrooms, but tigerwood has little reaction to moisture and will not warp or crack, so if you simply must have wood floors throughout your house including your bathrooms, it is a good choice. However, standing water can discolor any kind of wood, so extra care must be taken.
Tigerwood can be used in almost any room, bearing in mind that it will dent and scratch like any hardwood. Placing pads under furniture legs, rugs or runners in high traffic areas, and keeping pet nails clipped will help protect your beautiful floor for many decades of use. As an added precaution, spike heeled or sports shoes with spikes should not be worn on any kind of wood flooring. Tigerwood is durable enough to withstand heavy traffic and can be installed in almost any room.
Care and Maintenance
With the proper precautions outlined above, tigerwood is an easy care flooring option. Running a soft dustmop or vacuum over the floor daily and a mop dampened with a simple solution made of ¼ cup of white vinegar to a quart of warm water once a week should keep your floor clean and beautiful.
Another safe cleaning solution is water with 10% Windex. Never use a harsh cleanser like ammonia on any hardwood floor. Most commercial cleansers use harsh chemicals that will damage the wood or strip the finish. Check manufacturer’s instructions for other recommended cleaning products.