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Bubinga (African Rosewood)
Grades & Properties of Wood Flooring —
Other Common Names and Related Species:
- African Rosewood
Janka Hardness: 1980
Grades of Bubinga Flooring:
Almost all Bubinga flooring is Clear grade that is chosen for its pink and mauve color. It is not a true Rosewood but does resemble some species.
Bubinga Flooring Dimension Specifications:
Some Bubinga flooring is milled in Africa because it is more cost-effective to ship finished material than raw lumber. However, some is also milled in the U.S. and Canada with the same specs. Lengths of the Bubinga flooring bundles are 7 feet so they can easily fit into 8-foot-wide steel shipping containers. Some is milled in the U.S. and Canada by large mills. 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.
Bubinga flooring is available prefinished or unfinished in solid form for nail-down applications and in engineered form with a veneer top layer for application over concrete. Bubinga is an uncommon species in comparison with most hardwood flooring. There is a moderate amount of African Rosewood in Africa, 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 Bubinga floor will have a pink and purplish appearance. The grain patterns of Bubinga are swirly and interlocked. Oil-based finishes allow Bubinga flooring to age to a deeper dark color. Water-based finishes are recommended to keep the natural color longer. With oil-based finishes, the color will darken to a purplish brown.
Flooring Durability and Stability:
Bubinga flooring is very durable and resists denting and traffic wear quite well. It is much harder than some North American floors because of its density but can swell with moisture if not acclimated properly. Bubinga flooring is very heavy, weighing about 3 pounds per square foot.
Workability of Bubinga Flooring:
Although hard and tough, Bubinga works with little difficulty with both hand and power tools. When installing the flooring, it is best to use a manual nailer, but staples and pneumatic nailers can be used. It holds screws well, but glues poorly, yet 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 Bubinga.
Principal Uses of Bubinga Flooring:
Bubinga flooring is used in high-end residential and commercial applications for a dramatically elegant floor. It is also used for color-contrasting borders and medallions.