Kempas Wood Flooring: What to Know Before You Buy

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Kempas wood may not be on the radar of most homeowners searching for flooring for their homes. But this exotic species of wood is durable and gorgeous, and it just might be what you need as your next flooring.

What Is Kempas Wood?

Kempas is a solid, durable hardwood originating from Indonesia and Malaysia that is often used for flooring. Kempas' botanical name is Koompassia malaccensis.

Kempas Hardness and Durability

Kempas rates 1710 on the Janka hardness scale. This makes it harder than maple, white oak, and ash, but slightly softer than pecan or Brazilian cherry.

Translated, this means that kempas is in the moderately-hard range for hardwood. If this helps you formulate a picture, it is also used for railroad ties and cabinetry. Keep in mind, though, that hardness is not everything. Hard flooring is more difficult to install and, naturally, more expensive.

Kempas Color and Appearance

Kempas begins as a reddish- or pinkish-brown and, with finishing, darkens to a deeper red-brown. From a distance, finished kempas looks almost like certain types of ordinary hardwoods, even red oak. Yet upon closer examination, it does prove to have an attractive coarse-grained look with a medium interlocking grain.

Kempas Pros and Cons


  • Looks: Buyers tend to gravitate to kempas for its rich, high-end appearance.
  • Durability: With a Janka rating of over 1,700, kempas is durable. Kempas is often heavily treated with preservatives, which increase its lifespan.


  • Workability: Flooring installers report that this wood is hard to cut, hard to nail. In other words, you may have floor installers who hesitate at working with kempas or who may add a surcharge. In fact, it is often recommended that installers pre-bore it before nailing, and this can be a time-consuming process.
  • Acidity: Kempas has a high level of acidity which can degrade metals.


In terms of cost, kempas is about in line with other types of high-grade hardwood flooring. For solid kempas, expect to pay in the range of $10 to $15 per square foot. For engineered wood kempas flooring, you will pay slightly more, around $12 to $18 per square foot.

Manufacturers and Retailers

Kempas flooring has entered the mainstream and can be found in the inventories of most major flooring manufacturers and retailers:

  • Armstrong: Armstrong is perhaps the most prominent flooring retailer distributing kempas flooring via its Valenza Collection. Through its participation with Hartco, Armstrong has a kempas engineered flooring that yields to installation better than solid kempas.
  • Artisan Floors: Artisan is a Chicago-based flooring retailer that mainly does business online, but does have a few brick-and-mortar stores in Washington, Oregon, and California.
  • Junckers: Junckers is a flooring company based in Denmark and represented in about 30 countries across the world.