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Brazilian Teak (Cumaru)
Grades & Properties of Wood Flooring —
Other Common Names and Related Species:
- Imburana de Cheiro
- Tonka Bean
- Tonquin Bean
Central and South America (Brazil, Peru, French Guiana, Panama, Colombia, Suriname).
Janka Hardness: 3540
Brazilian Teak (or Cumaru) is a very hard wood flooring species. It is only 2.5% softer than Brazilian Walnut (Ipe). It is an incredible 160% harder than Red Oak, 85% harder than Jarrah, and roughly 60% harder than Santos Mahogany.
Grades of Brazilian Teak Flooring:
Clear grade Brazilian Teak flooring is color-sorted for a rich consistent medium “champagne” reddish brown color. Cumaru is a medium colored wood and is most popular in the Clear grade. Brazilian Teak gets its nickname from its resemblance in color to true Teak, which it is not. Only the heartwood of the tree is used in the Clear grade. Cumaru is browner in color than Brazilian Cherry but lighter than Brazilian Walnut. With Select and Better Brazilian Teak flooring, color variation will be present. With Rustic grade Brazilian Teak flooring, color varies dramatically from yellow to deep browns and reds.
Brazilian Teak Flooring Dimension Specifications:
Most Cumaru flooring is milled in South America because it is more cost-effective to ship finished material than raw lumber. Lengths of the Brazilian Teak 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.
Cumaru is available prefinished and unfinished in solid form for nail-down applications on a wood subfloor and engineered with a veneer top layer for application on concrete. Brazilian Teak is a common species in comparison with Brazilian Cherry and Brazilian Walnut. There is a large amount of Cumaru in South America, and it is not endangered. However, less logging, stricter regulations, and a slower American economy have 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 brown appearance. Oil-based finishes allow Cumaru to age to a deep brown color, unless lacquer or de-waxed shellac is first applied to help preserve the distinctive red color of the wood. Water-based finishes will preserve the natural color longer. Rustic Cumaru is rare and will have extreme color variations of deep red, brown and yellow tones.
Flooring Durability and Stability:
Brazilian Teak flooring is durable and resists denting and traffic wear quite well. It is much harder than — and about as stable as — many North American hardwood floors because of its density. Brazilian Teak flooring is very heavy, weighing over 3 pounds per square foot.
Workability of Brazilian Teak Flooring:
Despite being hard and tough, Cumaru works easily with both hand and power tools. When installing Cumaru flooring, it is best to use a manual nailer. Staples and pneumatic nailers tend to split the wood. 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 Cumaru.
Principal Uses of Brazilian Teak Flooring:
Cumaru 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.