Brazilian teak wood, commonly known as cumaru or Tonka, is a hardwood species native to Northern South America and commonly grows in Costa Rica and Peru.
This durable and decay-resistant wood is most commonly used for hardwood flooring. The tree, called Dipteryx odorata, is about 130-160 ft (40-50 m) tall and has a 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) wide trunk.
Whether you’re planning to buy Brazilian teak wood for your next project or are just curious to learn more about this American wood, here’s everything there is to know about Brazilian teak hardwood.
Brazilian Teak – What does it look like?
Freshly cut Cumaru wood, which has not yet been exposed to Sun (UV light) is a reddish brown or purple-brown and has darker yellowish-brown streaks on it. Exposure to Sun will cause the wood to lose its colour to a lighter yellowish brown.
The grain of Brazilian teak wood is fine and interlocked, and the texture is medium. Its surface usually has an oily feel due to the high oil content of the wood.
When used in flooring, the Cumaru floors are quite dark at first but the colour starts to fade after some time.
The wood is sometimes referred to as Brazilian teak because of their (Teak and Cumaru) visual similarities, however, the two species are not related to each other.
Physical Properties of Brazilian teak wood
With a Janka hardness rating of 3,330 lbf (14,800 N), Cumaru is among the hardest woods in the world. It is almost twice as hard as the likes of teak and oak.
It is too strong, stiff, and dense and is sometimes used as an alternative to other extremely hard timber options such as Ipe and Lignum Vitae.
Besides being very hard, Cumaru is also dimensionally stable, which is why it makes a great choice for wood flooring. It is more stable than Red Oak.
Cumaru is an incredibly durable wood with excellent natural resistance to decay. It is rated as very durable in terms of weathering and decay resistance. The wood is also resistant to termites and other insects that can affect wood.
Even when used for outdoor flooring, it will not rot or be infected by insects for a long time.
Brazilian teak is an exceptionally tough and durable wood used primarily for heavy-duty flooring. Even though it’s hard & durable, it still requires constant care, or it will start losing its colour and quality with age.
>Due to its high density and interlocked grain, Brazilian Teak can be difficult to work with, especially with hand tools.
Cutting can have a blunting effect on tools because of the wood’s silica content. Due to its hardness, carbide tools are often used for cutting.
The oil content of Cumaru wood can make glueing difficult. Screwing and nailing without pre-boring may not be possible.
The sanding and machining results are good. A smooth finish can be achieved through surface-planing, given the grain is not too interlocked. Water-based finishes typically give better results than oil-based options.
Because Brazilian teak is very hard, special tools such as carbide blades and drill bits might be required to achieve proper results and avoid damaging the tools.
Sanding can be tricky and must be carefully done to avoid scratches, which can be easily noticeable after finishing. Nailing requires pre-drilling holes or nailing by hand.
When working with Brazilian Teak, be cautious to not come into direct contact with the wood, especially if you have sensitive skin, as the wood might cause skin irritation.
Care & Maintenance
To ensure a long life and maintain the quality & looks of your Brazilian teak flooring, use water-based finishes that give the best results.
Use mats and rugs wherever required, especially in high-traffic areas to protect the floor from dents or defects.
Clean frequently using a cloth mop or vacuum. Make sure that furniture legs have pads or caps to prevent scratching the floor when moving them.
Clean up any spills right away, especially things like alcohol, coffee, etc. which can leave stains.
Cumaru Hardwood Availability & Price
In South America, where this is a native hardwood, Cumaru is easily and widely available. In other parts of the world, it is imported, usually for a moderate price.
Cumaru is often favoured by woodworkers looking for low-cost lumber with outstanding durability and physical properties.
It is sometimes used in place of teak, oak and other expensive hardwoods, which are not as easily available.
Pros and Cons of Brazilian Teak
Like any other wood, there are both advantages and disadvantages of using Cumaru hardwood, and knowing about them would enable you to buy the best timber for your project.
- Durability: Brazilian Teak is extremely durable with an outstanding resistance to decay, rot, and insects, making it perfect for outdoor applications.
- Strength: It is a heavy and high-density wood with remarkable strength that is resistant to dents and scratches and can last a very long time.
- Longevity: With proper care, this wood can easily last for decades.
- Aesthetics: The wood is also known for its vibrant colours, ranging from dark reddish-brown to lighter yellowish-brown with darker streaks. It can give a unique & beautiful appearance to any project.
- Low Maintenance:Cumaru wood demands basic care. Routine cleaning with occasional refinishing can ensure the long life of your wooden piece.
- Sustainability:It is commonly sourced from responsibly managed rainforests and is available in plenty, thereby not having a negative impact on the environment or the ecosystem.
- Changes Colour: Brazilian Teak wood changes its natural colour with time due to sun exposure. The colour becomes lighter with age. It can be preserved with a quality finish.
- Workability problems: Due to its extreme hardness and high density, it can be difficult to cut and work with. Planing, nailing, sanding, and finishing can be tough.
- Slippery Surface: The natural oil content of Cumaru wood can make the floors slippery, especially when used in damp conditions.
- Prone to Splitting: It can sometimes split during the installation process if proper care is not taken.
- Weight: The high weight of Cumaru wood makes it difficult to handle, especially during transportation.
Uses & Applications of Brazilian Teak Wood
As a versatile hardwood with outstanding strength and durability and moderate stability, Cumaru is used in many applications, many times as an alternative to other expensive hardwoods like teak and mahogany.
One of the most common applications of Cumaru wood is for flooring. It is extensively used for making strong, durable and robust floors for use in heavy-traffic areas such as offices and commercial facilities.
Cumaru floors are resistant to decay and insect attack, which is why they can also be used outdoors.
As a hardwood with outstanding resistance and weathering properties, Cumaru is also suitable for outdoor and marine applications, including outdoor furniture, flooring, docks, railroad ties, and decks.
Cumaru is also commonly used for making strong and high-quality furniture, including frames for beds and sofas. It is used in many other interior applications, including cabinetry.
It is extremely hard and strong, which is why it is also commonly used for heavy-duty industrial construction, such as bearing and railroad ties.
It is ideal for use in places where it might be subject to a lot of wear and tear, like in flooring and the marine industry
As a wood with good turning capabilities, Cumaru is also used for making turned objects, such as tool handles and kitchen equipment, bowls, etc.
The seed of Cumaru, which is called the tonka bean, has a unique vanilla-cinnamon scent.
The wood, its seed and other parts of the tree are used in the fragrance industry to make soap, shampoos, and perfumes.
Where to Buy Brazilian Teak Wood at the Best Price Online
If you’re a woodworker, a wood merchant or a business owner looking for the right timber for your next project, feel free to contact us to consult with a wood specialist at Cameroon Timber Export SARL.
If you’ve already selected your wood, you can visit our website or send us a message to enquire about the best price and availability of the wood you want to buy.
We deal in as many as 40+ species of hardwood and softwood timber and can provide you with high-quality sustainable wood in various dimensions at the best (wholesale) price with doorstep delivery all over the world. Contact us to get started.