Brazilian Cherry wood flooring - select grade
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Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba)

Grades & Properties of Wood Flooring —
Exotic Species

Scientific Name:

Hymenaea courbaril

Other Common Names and Related Species:

  • Algarrobo
  • Cuapinol
  • Guapinol
  • Jatahy
  • Jatoba
  • Kawanari
  • Paquio
  • Rode Locus
  • West Indian Locust
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Brazilian Cherry (or Jatoba) is widely distributed throughout South America, including Brazil.

Janka Hardness: 2350

Brazilian Cherry is 81% harder than Red Oak, 78% harder than Ash, 62% harder than Maple, 23% harder than Jarrah, and 6% harder than Santos Mahogany at 2200.

Grades of Brazilian Cherry Flooring:

Clear grade Brazilian Cherry flooring is color-sorted for a rich consistent deep reddish color. It is a deep red wood and is most popular in the Clear grade. Jatoba gets its nickname (“Brazilian Cherry”) from its resemblance in color to American Cherry, to which it is not related. Only the heartwood of the tree is used in the Clear grade. Brazilian Cherry is not as deep in red color as Bloodwood and is the most popular South American species by far. With Select and Better Brazilian flooring, lighter red and tan color variation will be present. Rustic Brazilian Cherry is also called Sap Brazilian Cherry because of the white sapwood allowed in this grade. Color variation is drastic, as in Rustic American Hickory. Quarter-sawn or Vertical Grain Brazilian Cherry is also available, with a straight grain similar to that of Sapele, with striations and ribbon grain.

Brazilian Cherry Flooring Dimension Specifications:

Most Jatoba flooring is milled in South America because it is more cost-effective to ship finished material than raw lumber. Lengths of the Brazilian Cherry flooring bundles are 7 feet so they can easily fit into 8-foot-wide steel shipping containers. All pre-milled products are tongue-&-groove and end-matched (tongue-&-grooved on the ends of the boards). Moisture content ranges from 6% to 8% for quick acclimation. The average length of the flooring pieces is usually about 3 feet and ranges from 1 to 7 feet. Almost all imported flooring that is found is in 7-foot bundles, with widths available from 2¼″ to 5″. If a long or wide plank floor is desired, raw lumber must be obtained and the flooring must be milled here in the United States. Typically, the lengths can develop up to 12 feet. However, the cost can be double that of the pre-milled stock because of waste and labor costs in the United States. Also, raw lumber is relatively expensive because it is taxed more heavily than finished products to support local economies in South America.

Flooring Availability:

Brazilian Cherry is the most common in comparison with any Brazilian species. Jatoba is available in prefinished and unfinished solid form for nail-down applications and in engineered with a veneer top layer for application over concrete. There is a very large amount of Jatoba in South America, and it is not endangered. However, less logging, stricter regulations, and a slower American economy have slightly limited commodities and caused slightly higher prices of this product in this country.

Finished Floor Appearance:

A Clear grade floor will have an even reddish rich appearance. Oil-based finishes allow Brazilian Cherry to age to a deep red color. Lacquer or de-waxed shellac can be first applied to help preserve the distinctive red color of the wood and will help with drying time. Water-based finishes will preserve the natural color longer. Select Brazilian Cherry will not be as rich in red color.

Flooring Durability and Stability:

Brazilian Cherry flooring is very durable and resists denting and traffic wear quite well. It is much harder than North American Cherry floors because of its density, and it is relatively stable. Jatoba flooring is very heavy, weighing about 3 pounds per square foot.

Workability of Brazilian Cherry Flooring:

Although extremely hard and tough, Jatoba works with limited difficulty with both hand and power tools. When installing Jatoba flooring, it is best to use a manual nailer, but staples and pneumatic nailers can be used. It holds screws well, and it glues, stains, and polishes to a very attractive finish. It can be somewhat difficult to sand with flooring equipment because of its hardness. Professional sanding and finishing is recommended. This wood is very resistant to decay and insects; these resistant properties may contribute to a possible allergic response to the dust. To avoid a possible allergic reaction to the material, wear a dust mask and long-sleeve shirt when working with Brazilian Cherry.

Principal Uses of Brazilian Cherry Flooring:

Brazilian Cherry flooring is used in medium- and high-end residential and commercial applications for a dramatically elegant floor. It is also used for color-contrasting borders and medallions.

Learn more about this hardwood flooring species »

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