Although oak still accounts for about two-thirds of all installed hardwood flooring in America, it's losing ground to its exotic cousins. A wide range of hardwood from other countries, especially Brazil, Australia and Asia, is gaining a foothold and nailing down homeowners' interests.
"There has been a trend for several years for exotic hardwoods to grow," says Anita Howard of the National Wood Flooring Association in Chesterfield, Mo. The number-one reason: price. "They're more reasonable than they used to be," she says. They're also more available, as interest grows and lower pricing makes them more attractive.
Consumers also are intrigued by the possibilities that avoid the need to alter their wood choices drastically with stains. "These species offer a broader range of colors, so you can use the natural species rather than staining oak to a particular color," Howard says. "More people today want to forgo stain and try a different wood type with a natural stain instead." Some of the most popular woods right now are:
As these differences show, exotic woods will react differently to cutting and installation techniques, as well as to environment, Howard stresses. "It requires a professional who is familiar with the local area and its humidity and weather conditions, as well as with the wood, to install it properly. Requirements are different in different areas."
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