If you’re planning a wood flooring project and are in the process of debating the pros and cons of traditional versus exotic wood species, we’ve put together this guide which will hopefully help you get to grips with the differences. In a nutshell, traditional woods include such species as oak, walnut, maple and cherry, all of which tend to be indigenous in the United Kingdom. Exotic woods on the other hand, as the name suggests, come from further flung corners of the world where the climate may be more tropical or simply hotter.
Oak and walnut are arguably the most popular choices when it comes to traditional wood flooring, followed by the likes of maple and and cherry. Each of these species of wood has its own characteristics. Oak wood flooring is a great choice no matter whether you’re seeking to add charm to a traditional interior or to create a nice, clean backdrop for a modern styling option. Typically ranging in colour from light greyish tones to darker honey colours, oak flooring is an attractive and hardwearing option that is chosen by many for its versatility. Oak wood flooring is available in a whole range of finishes and grades and is a highly affordable choice.
Walnut, which is again a really popular choice amongst the traditional wood species, is one of the most versatile hardwoods on earth. In its natural state, the walnut tree stands up to 100 feet tall, and has a broad leaf canopy. The wood that comes from this tree is known for its durability and its dark overall look, sometimes looking almost black. That said, close up, it is the contrast of light and dark in walnut wood flooring that makes it so appealing. The perfect enhancement to any interior style, walnut wood flooring is a great investment.
Exotic hardwood, on the other hand, is the term used for hardwood that originates from outside the UK and is typically made up of species that can’t grow in our climate. Exotic hardwood flooring comes in a whole range of colours and shades which simply aren’t found in woods native to the UK, again reinforcing the exotic nature of this wood as a flooring option.
In the past, indigenous woods were often coloured to look like exotic hardwood, but nowadays with the widespread availability and the relative affordability of exotic hardwood flooring, it is possible to get your hands on the real thing at a reasonable price. Exotic hardwood can be used to create some really dramatic and stylish interior effects. The likes of dark African wenge, for example, might be introduced to a room to create a really stunning, modern backdrop for the furnishings, as can Morado Rosewood. If you’re looking for a lighter option, which will create a completely different look altogether, Asian Teak might fit the bill.
Apart from its hardwearing nature, another advantage of exotic hardwood flooring is that its richness of colour won’t fade even with the harshest wear and tear. One thing worth bearing in mind though when it comes to exotic hardwood is that it is likely to darken more noticeably than traditional woods with the passage of time. If you want to avoid this darkening, the application of a finish with a UV filter may help.
At one time only an option for those with a significant budget, exotic hardwood flooring is becoming a much more affordable, as well as sought after flooring option, offering you the depth of colour you’re looking for at the same time as a really hard wearing and durable option.
No matter whether you opt for traditional or exotic wood, it’s a good idea to try make sure the wood you choose is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited. Although it is easier to obtain traditional wood with FSC accreditation, it is possible to track down accredited exotic wood flooring, if you’re prepared to look. FSC flooring has seen a real rise in demand in recent years, in line with the whole eco, or green movement. The FSC accreditation scheme clearly identifies timber (both exotic and traditional) that comes from well-managed and well-protected sources.