Exotic hardwood flooring explained - Grand Designs Magazine

Exotic hardwood flooring explained

Make smarter, greener choices when selecting exotic hardwoods

Promotional Feature By Caroline Rodrigues |

With so many types of wood flooring to choose from, it’s not surprising that many of us take the easy option and default to oak. Yet more unusual species have a lot to offer, and choosing exotic hardwood flooring can add a little something extra to set your home apart from the rest.

exotic hardwood flooring in a modern converted warehouse apartment

Photo: Maples & Birch

A distinctive look

When setting out to select timber flooring it makes sense to explore all the options. Iroko, merbau, wenge, maple, doussie and cherry are well known, but there are more unusual types of timber that you might not recognise, such as cabreuva, sirari and tarara amarilla. All have distinctive grain patterns and colouring that will give a project an individual look. What’s more, they are significantly harder than oak – some twice as hard – so there’s less risk of damaging the floor.

Take a tour of the Maples & Birch Kensington Collection to find the signature style that will suit your home. You’ll find examples to suit a Grand Designs-style project, a country house or a contemporary flat. There are plenty of dark, exotic tones for a sophisticated look, which can be supplied unfinished or with an oil or lacquer finish. If you have a particular type of wood in mind and can’t spot it, Maples & Birch will source it for you.

model posing on chaise long in luxury home with exotic hardwood flooring

Photo: Maples & Birch

Sustainably sourced exotic hardwood

These days, we all need to care for the environment. Maples & Birch stocks only hardwood floors that are milled from sustainably sourced lumber from farmed forests approved and regulated by ethical environmental groups and bodies like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). These directives insist on the replanting of forests and consideration for the environment in every step of the process, as well as meeting ethical guidelines on resources and labour.

large gym with sitting bikes and rowing machines and durable engineered wood floor

Photo: Maples & Birch

Solid wood or engineered wood flooring?

One of the first questions to answer when sourcing a floor is whether to opt for solid wood or engineered wood flooring. Solid wood boards are durable and can be sanded and refinished multiple times, though only as far as the tongue and groove.

Engineered wood flooring is the go-to choice for many projects and, if treated with care, has a long lifespan. Made up of a sandwich of timber layers, it has a decorative top layer of your chosen exotic hardwood, which can be refinished if damaged. This makes it a more sustainable choice, since less of the slow-growing hardwood is used in each floorboard.

living room with electric fire, grey leather sofa and glass-topped coffee table

Photo: Maples & Birch

Bathroom flooring

Though exotic hardwood flooring isn’t the ideal choice for a bathroom, engineered boards can work well. They’re resistant to warping and can cope with higher humidity than solid boards.

But Navylam+ flooring, available from Maples & Birch, goes a step further. The pre-oiled engineered parquet strips come with rubber sealing strips to prevent moisture ingress and make the flooring slip resistant. There are plenty of exotic hardwoods in the range to choose from, such as acacia, doussie, iroko, mutenye, teak and wenge.

large bathroom and dressing room with purple and black walls and timber floor

Photo: Maples & Birch

Quality exotic hardwood

At Maples & Birch, there’s no compromise on quality. The specialist carefully selects its flooring to be of a higher grade than those from online discount retailers, which are normally sourced in vast quantities. When buying a Maples & Birch exotic hardwood floor, you can be sure it is a sound environmental choice. The company offers a lifetime structural guarantee and 25-year finish guarantee on all floors, except Navylam+, which comes with 10-year manufacturer guarantee.

bedroom with floor to ceiling windows, monochrome forest print wallpaper, wooden floor and balcony

Photo: Maples & Birch

Find out more

At Maples & Birch, you’ll be supported every step of the way when buying exotic hardwood flooring. Professional advisers are happy to share their in-depth knowledge of hardwood and parquetry, and you can order free samples to get a real feel for the product. For further information, see maplesandbirch.co.uk or call 0333 533 3330.