Santos Mahogany wood flooring - clear grade
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Santos Mahogany (Cabreuva)

Grades & Properties of Wood Flooring —
Exotic Species

Scientific Name:

Myroxylon balsamum

Other Common Names and Related Species:

  • Balsamo
  • Cabreuva
  • Cabreuva-vermelha
  • Cabruiva
  • Cedro Chino
  • Estoraque
  • Incienso
  • Nabal
  • Navo
  • Palo de balsamo
  • Quina
  • Sandalo
  • Tache
  • Tolu
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Southern Mexico southward to Central American, including Argentina and Brazil.

Janka Hardness: 2200

Santos Mahogany flooring is incredibly hard and dense. It is 200% harder than Douglas-fir, 51% harder than hard Maple, 30% harder than Wenge, and only 6% softer than Brazilian Cherry.

Grades of Santos Mahogany Flooring:

Clear grade Santos Mahogany flooring is color-sorted for a rich consistent deep reddish color. Santos Mahogany is a deep red wood and is most popular in the Clear grade. It gets its nickname from its resemblance in color to true Mahogany, to which it is not related. Only the heartwood of the tree is used in the Clear grade. Santos Mahogany is not as deep in red color as Bloodwood and has gold overtones. With Select and Better Santos Mahogany flooring, more color variation will be present, from light reds to gold and yellow.

Santos Mahogany Flooring Dimension Specifications:

Most Santos Mahogany flooring is milled in South America because it is more cost-effective to ship finished material than raw lumber. Lengths of the Santos Mahogany 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:

Santos Mahogany is available in solid prefinished and unfinished and engineered with a veneer top layer for application on concrete. Santos Mahogany is not as common in comparison with Brazilian Cherry and Brazilian Teak. There is a large amount of Santos Mahogany 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 floor will have a rich, even, reddishappearance. Oil-based finishes allow Santos Mahogany to age to a deep red color. Lacquer or de-waxed shellac should be first applied to help preserve the distinctive red color of the wood and help with drying time. Water-based finishes will preserve the natural color longer. Select Santos Mahogany will not be as rich in red color.

Flooring Durability and Stability:

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

Workability of Santos Mahogany Flooring:

Although extremely hard and tough, Cabreuva works with limited difficulty with both hand and power tools. When installing Santos Mahogany 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 Santos Mahogany.

Principal Uses of Santos Mahogany Flooring:

Cabreuva 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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