Brazilian Cherry Flooring Still Lights Hearts on Fire

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    Brazilian Cherry Flooring
    Brazilian Cherry Flooring. © BuildDirect

    From 2000 to 2005, Brazilian cherry flooring was installed in countless houses, and it quickly came to signify all that was grandiose and swanky and over-the-top.  

    Blazing deep red, this showy flooring's star has since passed. But if you love it, go for it! This is your home.

    Buy on Amazon - Hurst Brazilian Cherry 3 1/4" Prefinished Flooring

    Jatoba Does Indeed Come From Brazil

    This wood does hail from the rainforests of Brazil, as well as Mexico and Peru. Its true name is jatoba. It goes by...MORE other names, as well: locust or courbaril.  

    Absolutely not a cherry tree; Brazilian cherry is a marketing term designed to make the flooring more attractive to consumers.

    Roger and Karen Lacasse, proprietors of The Wood Box in Ontario, Canada, have a less starry-eyed view of Brazilian cherry than your average flooring retailer. They note that it is a "cheap substitute for teak" and that it nails badly and must be pre-bored.

    Flooring Facts

    • 2820 on the Janka hardness scale (Translated: this is very hard wood).
    • Red or salmon colored. Can be streaked with attractive darker stripes.
    • Difficult to install; recommend hiring a professional installer.
    • Available in solid wood and engineered wood varieties (and in laminate flooring, though no Brazilian cherry wood is actually used).
    • Considered an endangered wood, as it largely comes from the heavily-logged Amazon area. However, FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) Brazilian cherry flooring can be purchased.
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  • 02 of 10

    Hardwood Brazilian Cherry 3/4" Thick, 3 1/4" wide

    Jasson Brazilian Cherry Royale 3/4 In. Solid Hardwood Flooring
    Jasson Brazilian Cherry Royale 3/4 In. Solid Hardwood Flooring. © Jasson

    Jasson hardwood Brazilian cherry comes in the same two standard sizes that comprise most hardwood flooring on the market:

    • 3/4" thick and 3 1/4" wide. Most retailers will sell in lengths ranging from a few inches to 6 or 7 feet. These lengths are mixed together.
    • 3/4" thick and 5" wide. Same lengths as above.

    Some plank-style hardwood Brazilian cherry is available, as well.

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  • 03 of 10

    Brazilian Cherry Laminate Flooring

    DuPont Brazilian Cherry Laminate Flooring
    DuPont Brazilian Cherry Laminate Flooring. © DuPont

    Buy on Amazon - Brazilian Cherry 7 mm Laminate Flooring

    Brazilian cherry laminate looks fantastic from a distance. And it costs just a few bucks per square foot.

    As if that wasn't enough, you can avoid the high installation charges of professional installers, and install Brazilian cherry laminate yourself.

    Downside is that the Brazilian cherry is all just a fine photographic rendition. Also, like all laminate flooring, it doesn't feel as solid under foot as the real stuff.

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  • 04 of 10

    Brazilian Cherry Engineered Floor

    Armstrong Engineered Brazilian Cherry Flooring
    Armstrong Engineered Brazilian Cherry Flooring. © Armstrong

    Brazilian Cherry engineered floor is a nice compromise between the laminate and the solid hardwood versions.

    Laminate Brazilian cherry is an illusion--a photograph of wood glued on top of a fiberboard core. Solid hardwood is very expensive and hard to install.

    But engineered floor lays down a thin veneer of real wood on top of dimensionally stable plywood-type material. You save costs because you're not using as much material, which also helps save the rainforests.

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  • 05 of 10

    Prefinished Brazilian Cherry Flooring

    Owens Plank Brazilian Cherry Prefinished
    Owens Plank Brazilian Cherry Prefinished. © Owens

    There are advantages to buying your Brazilian Cherry floor prefinished:

    1. Up to 7 coats of aluminum oxide-based finish, with 1-2 top wear layers.
    2. Finishing occurs off-site, in a factory, not in your home. So, no smell or mess in your home.
    3. No waiting for the finish to cure. You can walk on it right away.

    One downside of buying it prefinished is that it is more susceptible to damage during the installation process.

    Or, more accurately, unfinished Brazilian Cherry is just as susceptible to damage as the...MORE prefinished kind--but any damage can later be fixed in the finishing process.

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  • 06 of 10

    Low Prices, If You Want 'Em: Bellawood Brazilian Cherry Flooring

    Bellawood Brazilian Cherry Flooring
    Bellawood Brazilian Cherry Flooring. Via PriceGrabber (© Lumber Liquidators / Bellawood)

    Bellawood is the Lumber Liquidators house brand.

    In the past, I've not always been happy with Bellawood because of its uneven quality. But, without doubt, Bellawood tends to be the cheapest solid hardwood out there.

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  • 07 of 10

    Unfinished Brazilian Cherry Flooring Gets Finished

    Unfinished Brazilian Cherry Flooring
    Unfinished Brazilian Cherry Flooring. Via PriceGrabber; © Colston

    Unfinished, Brazilian cherry does have a natural pinkish-red tone that gets enhanced to the max upon finishing.

    Shown here is an unfinished flooring board before and after the finishing process to show how dramatically it changes.

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  • 08 of 10

    Handscraped Brazilian Cherry Flooring

    Handscraped Brazilian Cherry Flooring
    Handscraped Brazilian Cherry Flooring. © Via PriceGrabber: Lumber Liquidators/Virginia Mill Works

    The "handscraped flooring" trend has migrated to Brazilian cherry, too.

    As you can probably guess, no hands do the actual scraping. For this large residential flooring market, hardwood flooring is machine-textured to produce the shallow grooves found on antique handscraped floors.

    In this image, the inset clearly shows the type of ridges found on handscraped flooring.

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  • 09 of 10

    Price Range: Brazilian Cherry Flooring

    Prefinished Engineered Wood Brazilian Cherry Flooring
    Prefinished Engineered Wood Brazilian Cherry Flooring. Via PriceGrabber; © Bellawood/Lumber Liquidators

    While Brazilian cherry sounds exotic, the prices really are not all that exotic.

    In the last decade or so, the Amazon hardwood market has exploded, sending mass quantities of flooring to the U.S., Europe, Canada, and China, at prices that keep inching lower.

    Prices now, per square foot, tend to begin about

    • Engineered Wood: $6.20
    • Prefinished: $5.50
    • Unfinished: $4.75 to $5.00 (it's not really cheaper anymore to buy unfinished)
    • Laminate: $2.00

    Prices fluctuate, but this gives you a general idea of...MORE ranges and differences. Laminate will always be the cheapest type, with engineered wood barely nosing out solid hardwood for the distinction of most expensive.

    Shown here is a picture of pre-finished engineered wood Brazilian cherry flooring.

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  • 10 of 10

    Vinyl Flooring in Brazilian Cherry, Too

    Vesdura Click Lock 4.2mm Vinyl Plank Flooring
    Brazilian Cherry: Vesdura Click Lock 4.2mm Vinyl Plank Flooring. Via PriceGrabber; © Vesdura

    Naturally, you will find vinyl flooring duplicating Brazilian Cherry hardwood. It already mimics marble, slate, granite, distressed wood, ​handscraped wood, reclaimed wood, and practically anything else under the sun.