When it comes to hardwood floors, there seems to be a new trend almost every season. Despite the fast-changing trends, dark high-quality hardwood flooring (like the Brazilian Walnut variety) has withstood the test of time.
Brazilian Walnut flooring’s durability, deep, rich colors and unique patterns are just some of the characteristics that make it a classic, timeless flooring solution.
Harder and much more resilient than it’s American counterpart, Brazilian walnut has always been a very popular flooring solution for higher-end homes.
However, the demand for this exotic hardwood has been on the rise, which has significantly driven its price down making it a bit more affordable.
It’s luxurious feel, sturdiness and durability are bound to attract anyone that’s looking for a hardwood solution but beware – Brazilian walnut does come with a price.
Brazilian Walnut Pros
- Fire resistant
- Bug resistant
- Moisture resistant
- Can be installed over radiant heating
- Can be refinished
Brazilian walnut has a score of over 3500 on the Janka hardness test1, making it one of the hardest woods in the world.
Being so extremely hard makes Brazilian walnut very durable, as well as more damage resistant than other types of hardwood.
Its hardness comes from its incredible density, which makes it less prone to dents and scratches. It also makes it suitable for high-traffic and even outdoor areas (see: Ipe decking).
2. Fire resistant
Yes, you’ve read it right – there is such a thing as a fire resistant wood.
The fibers in this hardwood are so densely packed that is has the same fire rating as concrete and steel. You’d need quite a bog flame and a lot of time before you saw any burns on Brazilian walnut.
In fact, its fibers are so heavy and densely packed that it’s the only wood that doesn’t float.
3. Bug resistant
As many exotic hardwoods do, Brazilian walnut contains copious amounts of natural oil.
Having oily flooring might not sound like that good of an idea, but those oils actually make the wood resistant to all kinds of bugs that hardwoods are notoriously prone to.
Apart from being free from termites and other pests, this makes Brazilian walnut great for people suffering from allergies – the oils instantly kill off mites and spores.
4. Moisture resistant
There’s nothing better than well-oiled hardwood to keep the moisture away, and that’s the case with Brazilian walnut.
It has a smooth surface which can’t be penetrated by water, making it suitable for outdoor use.
Resistance to moisture also equals resistance to mold, which is another great benefit of Brazilian walnut.
5. Can be installed over radiant heating
The stability and heat resistance of Brazilian walnut make it great for installing over a radiant heating system.
Even though most hardwoods can be used with this kind of heating system, they usually require some additional prep work.
On the other hand, Brazilian walnut can be installed directly onto the heating system without needing any extra coatings.
Durability is one of the main characteristics of Brazilian walnut, all thanks to its densely packed fibers rich with natural oils.
Even though it does require a bit more maintenance, Brazilian walnut hardwood floors are your best choice if you’re looking for durability.
These hardwood floors have a lifespan of about 30 years, with some experts claiming it can easily last double that much if you take good care of it.
7. Can be refinished
What makes the Brazilian walnut last so long is its ability to be refinished.
Most hardwoods can also be repaired if they fade out or get damaged, but not many of them can be refinished dozens of times without losing their original look and feel.
When you think about it, there’s very little chance your Brazilian walnut flooring won’t see its 50th birthday if you take good care of it and refurbish it regularly.
Brazilian Walnut Cons
The hardness of Brazilian walnut really is a double-edged sword. A characteristic that makes it so superior to other hardwoods is also it’s main drawback.
Brazilian walnut is so hard that floor installers have to drill holes in the boards before they can nail them to the floor. This also makes it impossible to cut and trim the boards without specialized, industrial-grade tools.
If you’re looking to install hardwood flooring yourself, I suggest you skip on Brazilian walnut. Anyone except the most experienced floor installers will end up with split boards that are impossible to repair.
Even though the increase in the demand for Brazilian walnut has made it significantly cheaper than a few years back, it still is one of the most expensive hardwoods you can buy.
People that are on a budget often opt for engineered Brazilian walnut flooring, as it has the same look and feel of solid planks without its hefty price tag.
But, even the cheaper engineered version of Brazilian walnut cost much more than other solid hardwood flooring such as oak, pine or cherry.
3. Difficult to maintain
Brazilian walnut requires high maintenance, and it’s not because it requires special tools or products to clean it.
Brazilian walnut comes in dark, chocolate hues, much darker than American oak does. The rich colors look luxurious, but they’re notorious for making even the tiniest specks of dust and dirt stand out.
Most people don’t mind adhering to a weekly cleaning regimen, but Brazilian walnut requires daily care which might prove to be a deal breaker to many.
4. Doesn’t suit every space
The earthy, chocolate shades of Brazilian walnut can bring a cozy and luxurious feeling to a room, but they might not be the best choice for your home.
Its dark color makes it more suitable for large airy areas such as dining and living rooms. It won’t work in smaller rooms that have awkward corners, pillars or a lot of furniture.
The darkness of its colors can really suffocate a small room, so it’s not the best option for your tiny home office or bedroom.
5. Expensive to install
Brazilian walnut is notoriously hard to work with, and it takes years of experience to become good at installing it.
An average floor installer will have a lot of trouble tackling the installation process, and more experienced contractors always work for a much a higher fee.
So beware – even it you’ve bought the flooring at a bargain, there’s always hidden costs waiting around the corner, this time in the form of expensive installation.
How to Find a High-Quality Brazilian Walnut Floor
There are a few things you should look for when buying Brazilian walnut flooring, the first one being, of course, its price. Exotic hardwoods are pretty expensive, so beware of extremely low prices as they’re always an indicator of bad quality.
Another thing to look for is the warranty – many manufacturers give too-good-to-be-true lifetime warranties that don’t cover any kind of surface damage to the flooring, so make sure you carefully review what’s covered in your policy.
When it comes to the wood itself, you should expect some color variations. Good quality Brazilian walnut flooring is made from the whole tree, with its center being slightly lighter than the surface layers.
Always choose the thickest planks you can afford, both with solid and engineered wood. Thicker boards are more durable and also better at insulating heat and sound.
Engineered planks are made by pressing several layers of hardwood together. Look for planks that have each of the layers facing the opposite direction, as it makes the flooring more stable.
Nothing compares to Brazilian walnut when it comes to durability and resilience.
This hardwood is suitable for both indoor and outdoor uses, thanks to its resistance to UV inflicted damage. Its color won’t fade and there won’t be any discoloration marks or spots no matter how exposed to sunlight it gets.
The density and hardness of Brazilian walnut makes it great choice for high-traffic areas of your home such as hallways and entryways, and it’s even used in more commercial areas like restaurants and offices.
Brazilian walnut is so durable that a big part of the Coney Island boardwalk was made from it. The decking managed to last more than 25 before it needed to be replaced, so there’s a strong possibility that your Brazilian walnut flooring will outlive you.
It’s always extremely difficult and complicated to establish a final price when it comes to any flooring, and the same applies to Brazilian walnut.
If you decide on installing this exotic hardwood, you can expect its price to reach up to $9 for solid wood, and about $5-$6 for engineered planks.
As we’ve stated before, Brazilian walnut is ill-famed for being difficult to work with, so make sure you add about $3 for installation fees to the overall cost per square foot.
Another thing that determines the price is whether or not the boards are pre-finished. Pre-finished boards are a bit more expensive, but they come coated with a factory top layer and are ready to install.
Unfinished boards are much cheaper2, and they allow you to customize their color by choosing a unique staining process. However, unfinished boards require sanding and other finishing touches, which can add up to $3 to their initial cost.
Brazilian walnut flooring is available at most large home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, and you can use their websites to get a price estimate. When it comes to buying, we recommend you skip the middle man and go straight to the manufacturer to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money.
Brazilian Walnut Flooring Reviews
Founded in 2002, Brazilian Direct was the first company to offer an online-exclusive exotic hardwood flooring.
Since then, it became the go-to stop for anyone looking for exotic hardwoods at affordable prices and has more than 5000 satisfied customers that vouch for its quality.
The company takes great pride in the sustainability of their sources, and are one of few companies that have a completely customer-centric approach to business.
Apart from selling finished Brazilian walnut flooring, they also offer raw Brazilian walnut timber. This is a great choice if you want to create statement furniture pieces to match your hardwood floors.
However, to keep their prices competitive, the company doesn’t have a store or a showroom. Even though they sent free samples of their hardwoods, it might be a deal breaker for people who want to get a better feel of the material before buying it.
The Plank Company
With more than twenty years of experience under its belt, Pank has become the leading manufacturer of quality hardwood flooring.
The company specializes in manufacturing hardwood flooring that can be installed over radiant heating systems. All of their products go through strict safety and quality checks and are awarded PEFC and FSC certificates before they’re eligible for sale.
They also have the largest stock of hardwood timber in the US, and often supply smaller manufacturers. However, their selection of Brazilian walnut flooring is limited to only one color and two lengths.
Plank’s products are of supreme quality, but maybe not the best choice for a picky customer.
Nature Flooring is a respected and reliable hardwood flooring manufacturer and a go-to choice for middle-class buyers looking for an exotic flooring solution.
Their two main collections – the Americana and World of Woods – feature classic hardwood floors such as oak, hickory, mahogany and birch in various colors and finishes. They’ve recently launched their new World of Exotics collection, an impressive array of exotic engineered hardwoods.
Their Brazilian walnut flooring comes in a few different finishes but only one shade, but even a picky buyer will overlook the lack of diversity due to its bargain price.
Don’t let their retro website fool you – this company is on top of the game when it comes to exotic hardwood manufacturing.
They have a wide selection of exotic hardwoods to choose from – both finished and unfinished.
Pennington is one of the few companies that always manages to have all of their hardwoods in stock and have an incredibly short shipping and delivery time.
A family-owned business is bound to provide you with great insight and customer service, but it also means their prices tend be higher than those from large manufacturers and retailers.
Another family owned business, County Floors has been providing high-quality hardwood flooring for almost three decades.
They’re one of the first companies to import Brazilian walnut, and they offer several different widths, lengths, and shades to choose from.
As members of the NWFA, they make sure all of their products meet the highest industry standards. They also offer discounts for large orders and have most of their products in stock.
However, they operate only in Upstate Newyork and a few surrounding states, so shipping and delivery can be a problem if you live outside these areas.
Brazilian walnut is a tree you can find in South and Central America, several spots in the Antilles, and various parts of Mexico. This is an entirely different tree type from the American black walnut or English walnut. Also known as Ocotea Porosa, or Ipe, the Brazilian walnut tree is exotic, and the hardwood flooring derived from it is luxurious and expensive. This flooring is known as being quite durable with impressive hardness.
What does Brazilian walnut look like?
Most Brazilian walnut floors have a rich, luxurious, warm chocolate brown color. Although not all Brazilian walnut floors are the same, this exotic wood produces flooring that is most suitable for large rooms because of the dark coloring. If you decide to install it in small rooms, it can make them appear even smaller.
There are also other shades of brown as alternatives, and some flooring options will even come with red and yellow undertones. It all depends on what you prefer.
Does Brazilian walnut change color?
Unlike other walnut flooring that gets lighter in time, Brazilian walnut usually gets darker; therefore, if you’re worried that you did something to your floors because they appear darker, that might not be the case. However, you should think twice before installing these floors in small rooms because the room will look smaller as they get darker. On the other hand, Brazilian walnut can be stained so you can get a little creative with the color if you want to invest in staining it.
How hard is Brazilian walnut?
With a hardness score of over 3500 according to the Janka scale, Brazilian walnut is one of the hardest wood types. Flooring made of this wood is very durable, hard, and quite resistant to wear and tear. Because of the hardness, some people decide to install this flooring type outdoors.
Although costlier than some hardwood, Brazilian walnut is much more durable, harder, and perfect for households with kids and pets. It’s a great alternative for high-frequency rooms because it won’t scratch or damage easily.
How to care for Brazilian walnut floors?
Brazilian walnut floors require a lot of care, and that can be a turn-off for many homeowners. Since the colors are dark and luxurious, it will show all dirt and dust that accumulates, so your floor can end up looking dirty and cheap. This is the main reason why maintenance can be tiring.
Daily care is required to keep the floors clean at all times. You should sweep them with a broom for hardwood floors, and vacuum every week with a hardwood floor vacuum.
8 thoughts on “Brazilian Walnut Flooring: Reviews, Best Brands & Pros vs. Cons”
Shame on all of you Americans who had installed Brazilian Walnut in your house. Brazilian Walnut is 100% ILEGAL in Brazil. It’s a type of wood that you can find in the Amazon forest. This brazilian wood comes from a black market and this company shouldn’t sell it.
Harder than Rosewood??
I have had Brazilian walnut in my kitchen & dining room for over 20 yrs. Love the look. What is the best sealant? We have had water polyurethane lasting only 5 yrs.
You probably have American walnut, like we do. Ours is scratched terribly by our 70 lb dog. On the Janka hardness scale, Brazilian walnut is way more hard than regular walnut.
Do you have any advice on repairing scratches on these Brazilian walnut ipe floors? My floors are covered with scratches- small and large. These floors show every smudge/footprint, spect of dust, and dog hair that touches them. The worst part is the endless scratching though. I definitely do not recommend these floors.
Did anyone ever help you with this? We are looking at these for our home with dogs. Our current floor is scratched beyond belief.
It is important to note that ALL wood floors will scratch from pet nails – especially from large dog pet nails. I have solid 3/4″ Brazilian Walnut flooring and a 95 pound chocolate lab and my flooring is scratched. The only way to fully repair scratches such as those left by my dog are to sand and refinish the flooring. Other than that, cosmetic repairs can be performed with a stain pen.
Don’t let anyone try and sell you “scratch resistant” or “scratch proof” wood flooring. Even the hardest of hardwoods (Brazilian Walnut) will gouge and scratch from a big dog.
We had 4″ Brazilian Walnut installed last year and finished with Loba 2K Invisible Protect AT. The scratch resistance is unbelievable. We have 2 kids and German Shepherd and there is not a single scratch anywhere. I don’t know if it’s the floor itself or the finish but this is one amazing characteristic of this floor. We also chose a matte finish so there are no smudge marks and you really can’t see the hair much either. The floor looks great. We previously had Brazilian Cherry in our old house and it got scratched up pretty bad.
Now for the bad part. The floor has developed significiant gaps throughout once we turned on the furnace for the winter season even though we have whole house humudification and keep indoor humidity at 35% in the winter. It was acclimated in the house for a long time (several months) prior to installation and had acceptable moisture level when installed. Once I started researching for this issue specifically, it turned out this type of floor is notorious for this although nobody warned us. Apparently, because it is so dense it takes a very long time to dry. The information in this article about Brazilian Walnut stability is inaccurate. Here is a source that says exactly the opposite and that is consistent with our experience. http://www.uptownfloors.com/species/brazilian-walnut.htm We are now trying to figure out what to do about these gaps. Will probably need to get them filled and have the floor refinished.