Exotic Wood Considerations


Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba) Hardwood Flooring: This Flooring is made from a hard, dense wood with a rich coloration. Not to be confused with domestic Cherry, the Jatoba tree calls the rain forests of South America home. It has a wavy grain and can range from deep red to orange-brown in color with dark russet streaks. Its grain is usually pronounced and interlocked. Brazilian Cherry is one of the most photosensitive species of Hardwood Flooring; exposure to light can deepen its coloration to a rich crimson or burgundy. Brazilian Cherry Flooring has a rating of 2350 on the Janka Hardness Scale.

Sapele Hardwood Flooring: Sapele hails from Africa and is distinguished by its dark ribbon-grain pattern. It is similar to Mahogany in its appearance with brownish orange to dark brown color. Sapele Flooring is a photosensitive species that can turn richer and darker with pronounced color variation over time when exposed to light. Sapele Flooring has a rating of 1510 on the Janka Hardness Scale*.

Acacia Flooring: Acacia features a distinctive wavy grain and marbled color ranging from light tan to dark brown or olive. The Acacia species is often referred to as African Black Walnut as the wood is found in both Africa and Asia. Due to the extensive, thick grain and color pattern, this Flooring has a great illusion of movement created by contrasting light and dark hues. Acacia Flooring has a rating of 1750 on the Janka Hardness Scale*.


Exotic Flooring from Empire® can be found in both types of construction – Solid Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood. The end visual is the same, but the way in which the planks are made is different.

  • Solid Hardwood: As the name implies, Solid Harwood is a solid piece of Exotic wood from top to bottom, most commonly 3/4” thick. A finish is applied over the wood to help protect it from abrasions and stains. Solid Exotic Hardwood Flooring cannot be installed over concrete slabs, meaning it is not suitable for basements.
  • Engineered Hardwood: Engineered Hardwood Flooring is constructed with multiple layers of wood pressed together for a total of 3/8” to 1/2” thickness. This Flooring features a finish layer, real wood layer, core and base layer. There is a layer of real wood that allows the Flooring to have the same look as Solid Flooring once installed. The core of Engineered Exotic Flooring is made with cross-dimensional layers of wood or a fiber substrate providing more dimensional stability. The base layer has a patented locking system that creates joint integrity and allows for staple, glue down or floating installation on any level of your home.


Exotic Flooring can add beauty and value to your home but there’s more to consider when selecting a floor. Other factors that contribute to the overall look include:

  • Plank Width: There are many different widths to choose from, each lending itself to a distinct look. We offer boards ranging from 3 ¼” to 5” in width. Smaller width planks have a more traditional look, while the wide plank Flooring can be seen in all decors, from modern to rustic.
  • Smooth Finish:. Smooth finishes are available in many gloss levels and have a traditional appearance that is cleaner in look and style.
  • Beveled Edges. Beveled edges form a deep v-groove on two or all four sides of a plank. This design provides a very characteristic appearance that is more informal.

Floor Underlayment

There are several benefits of having an underlayment installed beneath your Exotic Engineered Flooring. It can help smooth out minor subfloor imperfections while quieting impact sound and floor-to-ceiling noise. Not only does the underlayment dampen sound, it is environmentally friendly and manages acceptable levels of moisture. Underlayment can be used under Engineered Hardwood Flooring, and may be installed over concrete or wood subfloors.

Janka Scale

Species Janka Hardness (pounds-force)
Oak 1290
Maple 1450
Hickory 1820
Cherry 995
Exotic Wood 2350
Bamboo & Cork 2700 to 2900

The Janka Hardness Test measures how various type of woods resist denting and wear. The test measures the force necessary to embed a .444-inch steel ball into wood to half of the ball’s diameter. It is a flooring industry standard for evaluating how well various wood species can tolerate denting and normal wear.

USDA Janka Hardness Scale


Hardwood Floor Care & Maintanence

  • Use felt pads to help protect your Exotic Hardwood Flooring from furniture wear.
  • Repair minor damage using color fill or color sealant.
  • Rearrange furniture and rugs to ensure even exposure to sunlight and to maintain consistent color across your Exotic Hardwood Flooring.
  • Place protective mats at doorways to help keep dirt and moisture off your floor.Use a hard-surface rug underlayment to help reduce slips.

For more tips, visit our Product Care area.

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*CARPET & FLOORING: Next Day Installation on in-stock styles only. In select areas, Next Day Installation may not be available every day. Floor preparation may add to installation time. WINDOW TREATMENTS: Next Day Installation on select products and styles for orders received by 10 a.m. In select areas, Next Day Installation may not be available every day.