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Wood flooring gives a rich, beautiful look to any décor but for something a little more jazzy designers are turning to so-called exotic woods.  With more sustainability programs in place especially in places like Asia, Africa and South America, wood from trees such as Teak, Rosewood, and Mahogany are now commercially available with no negative environmental connotations attached to their use.  Industry groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative confirm the practices of wood flooring manufacturers so that we can be assured woods we are using are not contributing to deforestation or other natural habitat destruction.  Here’s a round up of a few wood flooring choices with unusual and in many cases, dazzling, grain patterns.

For many years high end sailboats such as the Swan have used Teak wood for decks since its natural resins are water and insect-resistant.  These same qualities make it an obvious choice for flooring in kitchens and bathrooms.  For many years, teak had an image problem as growers in its native Southeast Asia did not use sound environmental practices as the 1970’s and 1980’s love affair with teak furniture drove high demand for the wood product.  Throughout the tropics Teak is now grown with solid land management practices and it is safe again to purchase the beautiful wood for flooring. Teak is very dense which can make installation more expensive but for the price it is a very long-lasting wood choice.

Named for its scent, rather than its coloration, rosewood has been a popular choice with furniture makers for centuries.  In addition to its distinctive grain pattern, this stunning wood can be found in a range of colors from a light yellow to almost purple.  Now we are seeing rosewood available as a wood choice for flooring.  Again, rosewood is now being grown on sustainable farms but due to overharvesting it is less available than other exotic woods.  Rosewood can make an exciting visual focal point in a smaller contrast area such as a sitting area or bathroom.

Sadly in its native America, mahogany is all but extinct.  In the New World this beautiful wood is only sustainably harvested in Honduras although there are now tree farms in Southeast Asia as well. Needless to say, it is imperative to check for those certifications of environmental compliance mentioned earlier when considering this option for your wood flooring.  Mahogany is a very strong hardwood that is also water-resistant.  Natural mahogany is not the dark red color associated with men’s clubs of the 19th century.  Although of course it can take a dark stain, Mahogany is a beautiful lighter shade and the grain can almost look like satin.

There are many other options in the exotic wood category but in every case ensuring that the material is sustainably harvested is key to adding a dramatic visual element to your home’s wood flooring.