Exotic Hardwood Floors are continuing to grow in popularity, and with that growth, comes the comparison of exotic species versus domestic species. Such is the case for domestic American Walnut versus Brazilian Walnut, also known as Ipe.
On the Janka Hardness Scale, Brazilian Walnut measures almost at the top of the list – 3680. American Black Walnut is 1010. This suggests higher durability, and also shows its high resistance to insects and natural elements compared to its American counterpart. In fact, it’s estimated that this wood will last up to 40 years if left untreated, and 100 years with proper maintenance and care.
Unlike American Black Walnut which has a very dark color, Brazilian Walnut ranges from olive to chocolate brown to black. Both species have beautiful markings that look like watercolor brush strokes down the woods with slight natural color variations. American Walnut tends to have more swirls, curls, and color variations however. Both have a fine grain appearance which the ‘watercolor effect’ can be attributed to.
Price-wise, they are somewhat comparable to one another, unlike other exotics, whose prices soar over their domestic counterparts. You can find engineered American Walnut for $5.19 to $5.41 for 3 inch or 5 inch planks, whereas you can find Brazilian Walnut for 3 inch thickness for $7.43 to $8.74 for 5 ½ inches, with the differences in price mostly attributed to the cost of importing the woods.
In addition to hardwood floors, Brazilian Walnut is also used for outdoor furniture and construction, particularly wooden decks because of its hardness, but also resistances to decay, mold, fungus, and insects.
As for manufactures that offer this unique wood, BR111 Flooring has several Ipe products, as does Johnson Flooring, and Triangulo Hardwoods. For information on Ipe, it’s best to contact a licensed reseller who carries these three brands. They can show you samples of the product and help you determine which hardwood floor is right for your home.