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Grades & Properties of Wood Flooring —
Millettia spp. (including Millettia laurentii and Millettia stuhlmannii)
Other Common Names and Related Species:
- African Rosewood
- Congolese Rosewood
- Faux Ebony
Central Africa in the Congo, and the southern regions of Tanzania and Mozambique.
Janka Hardness: 1630
Grades of Wenge Flooring:
Almost all Wenge flooring is Clear grade that is chosen for its dark black color. The two main types are Plain Sawn and Quarter Sawn. Plain Sawn Wenge flooring has grain similar to that of Plain Sawn Red Oak but black in color. Quarter Sawn Wenge flooring has vertical tight grain similar to that of Rift Sawn Red Oak.
Wenge Flooring Dimension Specifications:
Most Wenge flooring is milled in Africa because it is more cost-effective to ship finished material than raw lumber. Lengths of the Wenge 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. In addition, Wenge lumber is extremely rare in any quantity.
Wenge flooring is rare. It 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. Wenge is an uncommon species in comparison with most hardwood flooring. There is a moderate amount of Wenge 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 floor will have an even black appearance. The grain patterns of Wenge are very similar to that of Red Oak, whether Quarter Sawn or Plain Sawn. Oil-based finishes allow Wenge flooring to age to a deeper dark color. Water-based finishes are not recommended, as they may appear milky in appearance because of Wenge’s dark color.
Flooring Durability and Stability:
Wenge flooring is very durable and resists denting and traffic wear quite well. It is much harder than North American floors because of its density but can swell with moisture if not acclimated properly. Wenge flooring is very heavy, weighing about 3 pounds per square foot.
Workability of Wenge Flooring:
Although hard and tough, Wenge 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, 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 Wenge.
Principal Uses of Wenge Flooring:
Wenge 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.