There are many different types of wood that can be used as flooring materials, and they come in varying degrees of hardness. Homeowners who want their hardwood flooring to last for a long time should opt for wood materials that are hard, and the hardest wood that is available in the market is Lignum Vitae.
Lignum Vitae is also known as Palo Santo, Guayacan, or ironwood. The name of the wood means “wood of life” in Latin, because it is known to have medicinal properties. This wood originates from Central and South America, and the West Indies. It has a density of 77 to 82 lbs/cubic feet, and it is exceptionally resistant to fungal damage and moisture. It is a very heavy wood, and it is one of the few types of wood that will submerge in water. The Janka measure, or hardness measure, of Lignum Vitae is 4500, which is the highest among trade woods. The more common types of wood such as oak, maple, and white ash have a Janka measure of less than 1500.
In the past, Lignum Vitae trees had diameters that ranged from 18 inches to 30 inches, but presently, most of them can only grow to a diameter of 13 inches or less. They are also becoming increasingly rare nowadays. When the wood is cut from the trees, it is reddish brown in color. After it oxidizes, it will become green to greenish brown, and black markings will appear on it. It is waxy and oily, and it has tightly interlocked grain.
Lignum Vitae is an ideal wood for flooring because it is durable and highly resistant to scratches, but it is more costly than other types of wood because it is considered an exotic wood. When buying lignum vitae from wood suppliers, make sure the wood they are offering is the right kind of lignum vitae. Some hardwoods from Australia, such as eucalyptus and acacia, are also known as Lignum Vitae. Lignum Vitae is very difficult to cut, so it is best that the wood is cut to size at the supplier’s mill before it is brought home for installation.
Other than Lignum Vitae, the hardest trade woods that are available in the market are Curupy (Janka: 3880), Brazilian Tiger Mahogany (3840), Pantagonian Rosewood (3840), Brazilian Walnut (3680), Lapacho (3670), Brazilian Teak (3540), Bolivian Cherry (3190), Caribbean Cherry (3100), and Bloodwood (2900).