A list of exotic hardwoods suitable for flooring can be rather lengthy, since the exotic does not necessarily mean scarce. The term tends to be used for any wood that is not in common usage, or is grown beyond the borders of the United States. Shipping costs will therefore influence the price you will pay. Exotic woods can be extremely durable, as many of them are extremely hard, and some are difficult to work with, which can add to the cost of installation.
Ipe, or Brazilian Walnut is generally considered to be the hardest commercially available exotic hardwood. It is great for flooring, but it must be predrilled for nailing. It also makes excellent tool handles and railroad ties. Ipe is commonly used in industrial environments because of its durability. The trees grow throughout much of South America. The wood ranges from olive brown to blackish. It is a low luster wood with a somewhat oily appearance that may not appeal to everyone Ipe Wood Prices
Tigerwood is busy. Its grain pattern tends to be very irregular. It is a very hard and very stable material for flooring. Tigerwood has only half the hardness of Ipe, but it is as hard as hickory or pecan; hard enough for most uses. Tigerwood does not saw well. You have to know what you are doing to make a proper cut. It is used mostly in fine furniture and in boat building, but has become quite popular as a flooring option in recent years. Tigerwood is extremely durable and takes finishes and polishes nicely. The heart wood is reddish-brown to light-golden brown.
Santos Mahogany is not as popular as it could be is that it is all too often confused with Honduran mahogany, a wood most often used in fine furniture, but one that does not hold up well under heavy foot traffic. Santos mahogany is a very hard and very durable wood. It is more than 50 percent harder than hard maple. Its appearance is close to that of Honduran mahogany, and if you like mahogany, Santos Mahogany could be a nice choice.
North American Cherry is one of the most beautiful exotic woods for flooring you can find, although it is not as durable as the other exotics mentioned here. It also has a tendency to fade in sunlight, a factor you should take into account when deciding where you what to use it. Any room that is not exposed to a great deal of direct sunlight, and experiences light to moderate traffic would be ideal. North American Cherry sells for roughly the same price as hickory, and it is less expensive than walnut.
Brazilian Anything-God must have created Brazil with exotic flooring in mind. Some of the hardest, and arguably most attractive wood species suitable for hardwood flooring, come from that country or its neighbors. Brazilian Walnut (Ipe) is the hardest of all, but Brazilian Cherry (not actually a Cherry), and Brazilian Oak, Chestnut, Redwood, and Teak are not far behind. Most Brazilian Cherry wood is deep reddish brown. The color differences in Brazilian Walnut are a bit more pronounced. Brazilian Teak and Oak are characterized by a smoother, less pronounced grain, with the grain in the latter species being appearing somewhat mottled. Another Brazilian species, Lyptus, is a more affordable alternative to mahogany, which it closely resembles. It is somewhat dark in appearance however, and has a tendency to draw attention to itself, which some might look upon as being a disadvantage.