The Pros and Cons of Tigerwood Hardwood Flooring

Tigerwood sure looks exotic but it is more than that and that is the reason why it is one of the most popular choices for hardwood floors.

It is loved by contractors and homeowners alike because it is easy to work with, it is extremely durable and it is also water-resistant promising you a lifetime of beautiful hardwood floors if maintained well. 

If you are considering tigerwood for your flooring, we will cover everything that you need to know about this exotic hardwood. 

Related: Maple vs oak flooring | Pine flooring pros and cons | Types of flooring

What is tigerwood?

Tigerwood comes with many other names including goncalo alves, African walnut, and Brazilian Koa hardwood. It is called Tigerwood because its rich brown or orange color is made more dynamic by random black and darker brown splashes. By this alone, it is already a standout from its other hardwood counterparts. 

It has become one of the trendiest hardwood choices in the past years because of its overall, unique look. Tigerwood is native to South America specifically Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. 

To get to know the tigerwood more, let us evaluate it with some tigerwood pros and cons. 

Pros of tigerwood flooring

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The upsides of tigerwood flooring lie in five things: durability, water-resistance, maintenance, inexpensive hardwood choice, unique color patterns. 

1. Durability

Tigerwood is harder and more durable compared to fellow hardwoods like oak, pecan hickory, and maple. It looks new and polished for a long time and it is also practically dent resistant.

Despite its hard surface, it is still relatively softer underfoot compared to cumaru and ipe wood. This makes it good for homes with active pets and children. 

If you need a numerical reference for how durable this hardwood flooring is, just know that it could last for more than fifty years under the best conditions and proper maintenance. Other than this, discoloration will not be visible until it reaches its seventh to the tenth year. 

2. Water-resistance

The good thing about tigerwood is that it will not expand at heat and most specifically moisture. So even if you are in a colder, higher-altitude location, you can count on it for its durability and water-resistance.

It is a high-density wood containing natural oils making it not just water-resistant but also warp, rot, and crack resistant in a moist environment. 

3. Maintenance

Unlike other wood floorings, you do not need to seal or polish tigerwood flooring every now and then. But to keep it on its pristine look, make sure that you mop it with a white vinegar and water solution (soap and water solution will also work) once a week. Never use harsh floor cleaners as it will damage the color pattern of the tigerwood.  

4. Inexpensive

It is expensive but compared to teak and ipe, fellow hardwoods with impressive durability and water-resistance, it is a cheaper choice. Its price range is comparable to cumaru, mahogany, and oak. 

5. Unique color patterns

It takes its name from its interesting color patterns of rust orange, tan, and brown along with random splashes of fine or bold black and dark brown lines. So talk about naturally unique color patterns in hardwood and tigerwood always comes up as a priority choice. As a matter of fact, it is said that no other hardwood can achieve the same color pattern. 

As such, tigerwood is mainly graded based on the color patterns that the wood has. They are divided between clear and common grades.

Clear grade tigerwood has a deep orange base color with streaks of black and brown splashes/stripes. Common grade tigerwood has lesser color patterns and would have ripples on the surface. 

Cons of tigerwood flooring

With all its promising upsides, tigerwood has its own fair share of cons too. Here are some of the tigerwood downsides that you should be on the lookout for.  

1. Discoloration

Like other hardwoods, tigerwood is also prone to color wearing especially in high-traffic homes. The deep hues are incomparable when it is newly installed but even with regular polishing, you will see gradual fading on its seventh to the tenth year.

There are amendments to this, however. Using a UV-filtering film will help in slowing down discoloration by limiting the amount of direct sunlight that strikes the floor during the daytime. 

2. Sustainability

The high demand for tigerwood and other hardwoods pose serious sustainability issues for the countries they are imported from. Present statistics show that tigerwood is now considered an endangered tree species and the forests where they grow are overly forested. As such, export restrictions from major African and South American countries are now passed. 

American lumber companies have found a way to make tigerwood harvesting more sustainable by growing and culturing lumber-grade tigerwood. These lumber companies are scattered around the country including Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, and Mississippi. When buying one, you also have to make sure that it has FSC certification. 

3. Installation

Tigerwood cannot be installed DIY as it requires high-powered tools only. So while it is relatively inexpensive than other hardwoods, it may have added labor and installation costs that could be more expensive than others due to installation. 

Tigerwood flooring cost

As have been mentioned, tigerwood drops at a price range similar to mahogany, cypress, and cumaru wood but is less expensive compared to ebony, ipe, and teak. According to online real estate and flooring advisors, tigerwood costs between $8-20 per square foot. On top of this, installation ranges from $4-10. 

This price range can change depending on the floor area and your location. You must check and make an initial canvass for both wood and installation costs before going for it. 

Where to use tigerwood flooring?

Source: Houzz

With all the upsides that we have mentioned here, you would probably think that the entire home flooring could be made of tigerwood. You have to understand that there are specific rooms in the home where tigerwood flooring is the best fit. 

First, tigerwood flooring will look beautiful in the dining room. Aside from its dramatic, classy flair, it is easier to clean after a family feast. Second, it is one of the best flooring choices for the living room. It is a versatile and decorative wood making it good for rustic, ski lodge vibe, minimalist and classy aesthetics. 

You could also use tigerwood flooring for outdoor decks and patios. It is water-resistant and its unique color patterns offer an illusion of space. Lastly, knowing that a tigerwood flooring could last for more than 50 years, consult with your contractor on how to achieve an all-tigerwood flooring home. 

How do you clean tigerwood floors?

As have been mentioned too, tigerwood flooring is low maintenance. Harsh floor cleaners are not required for tigerwood floorings. You can easily clean them in three ways. 

First, use a damp mop to clean it once a week or twice a week in areas with high foot traffic. To clean it, you may use homemade cleaners such as white vinegar or apple cider and water solution or soap and water solution.

Second, vacuum and sweep the floor regularly to avoid dirt and sticky particles from being embedded in the floor’s surface. Make sure that you only use soft-bristled brooms and vacuum for non-carpeted floorings. 

For what it is worth, you also must know other care tips to maintain the beautiful look of tigerwood flooring: 

  • Mop or wipe liquid spills on the floor immediately. 
  • Attach felt pads to heavy furniture to avoid scratches and dents. 
  • Rugs with rubber backs are not recommended as they may cause discoloration over time. 
  • Take the necessary amendments for floor areas that are exposed to sunlight daily. 
  • Consider re-arranging your furniture every now and then so that the color can adjust evenly. 

Is tigerwood toxic?

Fortunately, when treated to be prepared for floorings, tigerwood does not pose any toxic threat. However, eye and skin irritation caused by tigerwood in the wild have been widely reported. Because of this, tigerwood is listed as a sensitizer as it could trigger some allergic reactions in some people. 

Is Brazilian Koa the same as tigerwood?

Source: Houzz

Yes. It also comes with other names such as African walnut and goncalo alves. However, the name tigerwood is more referenced because it fits best to its rust orange, tan, and dark brown base color with black and brown splashes. 

Conclusion

Tigerwood is a formidable flooring choice and for all the good reasons. It is hardy, durable, relatively inexpensive, and easy to maintain. It lasts for more than 50 years and it takes a long time before visible discolorations become a problem. 

On top of all of that, it has one of the most beautiful color patterns for hardwood making it a versatile choice for many floor areas in the home but it would look best in dining rooms, living rooms as well as patios and decks. 

Weighing in tigerwood flooring pros and cons, tigerwood’s upsides trump its minimal downsides. The only serious issue at hand is in terms of sustainability. But overall, investment-wise, tigerwood flooring is one of the best flooring choices that you will ever make.

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