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Imbuia (Brazilian Walnut)
Grades & Properties of Wood Flooring —
Other Common Names and Related Species:
- Brazilian Walnut
- Canella Imbuia
Imbuia (still sometimes called Brazilian Walnut) is found in Brazil and throughout continental tropical America.
Janka Hardness: 950
The density of Imbuia Flooring is about 60% of that of Wenge.
Grades of Imbuia Flooring:
Clear grade Imbuia flooring is not color-sorted and has wild color variations, ranging from dark browns to light tans. Imbuia is very unique and was the original species nicknamed “Brazilian Walnut” (which is what Ipe is now called). Prized for its unique grain patters and colors, Imbuia is currently extremely difficult to find.
Imbuia Flooring Dimension Specifications:
Most Imbuia is flooring is milled in South America because it is more cost-effective to ship finished material than raw lumber. Lengths of 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. Imbuia in ¾″ solid form is milled only here in the U.S., and the lumber is extremely rare.
Imbuia is sometimes available prefinished or unfinished in solid form for nail-down applications on a wood subfloor and in engineered form with a veneer top layer for application over concrete. Imbuia is an uncommon species in comparison with Brazilian Cherry and Brazilian Teak. There is a large amount of Imbuia in South America, and it is not endangered. However, less logging, stricter regulations, the decking market, 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 Imbuia floor will have wild color variation. Oil-based finishes allow Imbuia to age to a deep brown color. Lacquer or de-waxed shellac should be first applied to help preserve the distinctive brownish color of the wood and will help with drying time. Water-based finishes will preserve the natural color longer but may appear milky in appearance because of Imbuia’s deep brown tones.
Flooring Durability and Stability:
Imbuia flooring is durable and resists denting and traffic wear to a limited degree. It is softer than some North American floors because of its density but can swell with moisture if not acclimated properly. Imbuia flooring is heavy, weighing almost 3 pounds per square foot.
Workability of Imbuia Flooring:
Being moderately soft, Imbuia works with little difficulty with both hand and power tools. When installing Imbuia flooring, it is best to use a manual nailer, but air nailers or staplers 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 softness. 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 Imbuia.
Principal Uses of Imbuia Flooring:
Imbuia 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.