What Are The Pros And Cons Of Cumaru Flooring?

Cumaru Flooring Pros and Cons

Flooring can make or break a room. You have a picture in your head of what you want, but you also have to consider its practicality. So many people choose hardwood floors not only for their beauty but because they are a durable option.

But how do you choose between the many varieties of hardwood? If you’re looking for a luxurious and long-lasting wood floor, you might consider cumaru.

Native to South America, Cumaru is stronger than any domestic wood available. Its color is similar to the reddish-brown of teak with a smooth and shiny finish. Because of its high durability, cumaru makes for excellent outdoor flooring. While it’s affordable, it’s heavy and difficult to work with due to its density. Cumaru doesn’t accept stains, so it can’t be refinished in another color.

What is Cumaru Hardwood?

Also called Brazilian teak or Golden teak, cumaru is native to South America and parts of Central America. It’s found in abundance in Brazil which is how it got its name. It is an incredibly durable, long-lasting hardwood that’s available internationally.

Popular uses for cumaru include flooring, furniture, cabinetry, docks, heavy construction, railroad ties, handles, and bearings among other things.

Appearance

The color is similar to the reddish-brown of teakwood, but cumaru is not related to teak. It ranges in tones from golden yellow and amber to medium brown. It also comes in rich tan tones, similar to the color of milk chocolate. The richer browns of cumaru exude luxury, while the golden ambers brighten up any space without overpowering it.

Although the colors vary between brands, cumaru always shows a tightly interlocked grain. The color variation will fade over time, especially when placed in areas with ample sunlight.

Cumaru’s appeal is rounded out by a shiny smooth finish and a lovely vanilla-cinnamon scent to the wood.

Janka Hardness Rating

The flooring industry uses the Janka hardness scale to rate the durability of wood. The higher the number the harder and more durable the wood is. Popular hardwoods for flooring include oak, hickory, and maple, among others.

Red oak has a Janka rating of 1290, while white oak’s rating is 1360. These are considered the industry standards. Maple (1450) and hickory (1820) are much more durable by comparison.

Cumaru is harder than any other domestic wood with a Janka rating of 3450, making it one of the most durable hardwoods on the market.

Durability

Its high Janka rating is enough to comprehend cumaru’s strength. Highly resistant to scratches and dents, cumaru performs beautifully under heavy foot traffic. The integrity of its surface lasts a long time.

On top of that, cumaru has natural oils that repel liquids, making for a stain-resistant surface.

Pro: Because of its density, cumaru is an excellent insulator. With cumaru floors, your living space is bound to be more comfortable.

Weather-Resistant

It should come as no shock that cumaru holds up in extreme weather conditions. It’s resistant to rot and decay as well as termites and other wood-eating pests. It makes an excellent choice for outdoor flooring.

Pro: Cumaru outlasts other popular decking choices like pine, cedar, redwood, and Douglas fir.

Workability

Typically, the harder the Janka rating the more difficult the wood is to work with. With a rating of 3450, you can guess that cumaru falls into that category.

Con: Not only is cumaru extremely heavy, but the wood is very dense with interlocking grain. This makes it hard for installers to work with. It often requires pre-drilling or hidden installation hardware. Larger nail gauges are needed because of the density, and the high oil content can be an issue when it comes time to glue it down.

Sustainability

Sustainability is an important factor for many homeowners, especially when it comes to hardwood. But you can install cumaru with a clear conscience.

Pro: South America has strict environmental laws in place, so cumaru hardwood is sourced responsibly. It’s not considered a threatened or endangered species, making it a sustainable choice.

Availability

Because of the strict environmental laws, cumaru wood is available in abundance. It comes in many different sizes and can be found at most local flooring stores. Most available wood comes pre-finished.

Con:  Unfinished wood is difficult to find. This could be an issue if you’re looking to finish the wood yourself.

Cost

The easy access to cumaru wood has a positive effect on the price tag. While slightly higher in price than some domestic woods, the price of cumaru is still reasonable.

The average price of oak and maple runs about $5 per square foot. Cumaru is around $7 per square foot.

Pro: For its level of durability, cumaru has a considerably low price. It’s cheaper than pressure-treated pine, whose price averages $15-$25 per square foot. And it will last way longer. Not only is cumaru a durable outdoor flooring option, but it’s also an inexpensive one.

Con: Its cost of installation is on the higher end. This can range anywhere from $11-$20 per square foot.

Gapping

Cumaru wood is known to expand and contract as humidity levels change. Over time, this can cause gaping between the panels, especially in environments with poor temperature controls.

Con: Even though the movement of the wood is small, the gaps may end up being quite sizeable.

Treatments

The natural oils in cumaru are what give it its lustrous appearance and keep it from accidental stains. But they also keep you from staining it on purpose.

Con: Cumaru doesn’t absorb oil well so it can’t be refinished in a darker stain. If you want cumaru floors, it’s natural or nothing. Think really hard about whether or not you like its natural color before you install it.

Cleaning a Cumaru Floor

For general cleaning, sweep and vacuum the floors regularly. It is not recommended that you damp mop or use furniture cleaner on a cumaru floor. For a deeper clean, use a quality no-wax wood floor cleaner.

Installing a Cumaru Floor

Remember, cumaru’s workability is very difficult so an NWFA certified professional is recommended for installation. And while cumaru is readily available, it’s not typically a common flooring option. Brazilian exotic or tropical woods only make up 10% of the hardwood market. Many contractors might not be experienced with this type of wood, so be sure to ask before you hire.

If you insist on installing it yourself, it’s best to purchase pre-finished lumber. This will reduce installation time and make the job much easier. You’ll have to pre-drill before installing to avoid splitting. Cumaru flooring must be installed perpendicular to the joists below.

Cumaru Flooring Cost Guide

The chart below compares the price of cumaru flooring across several different companies.

Store Flooring Size Lengths Finish Price per Sq Ft
Advantage Lumber ¾” x 5” 1′ – 7′ Pre-finished $6.00
Fantastic Floor ½” x 5” 1′ – 7′ Pre-finished $5.85
LL Flooring ¾” x 5” 1′ – 7′ Pre-finished $8.49
Build Direct ¾” x 3 ¾” 1′ – 6′ Pre-finished $5.87
Hurst Hardwoods ¾” x 5” 1′ – 7′ Pre-finished $5.59
Flooring.org ¾” x 5” 1′ – 7′ Pre-finished $5.99

Related Questions

We’ve covered a lot regarding the pros and cons of cumaru flooring, but perhaps you have further questions. Below are some things other people asked about cumaru flooring.

Does cumaru darken?

Any color variations in cumaru fade over time and this process is sped up when the wood is exposed to ample sunlight. Not only will the variations change, but so will the color. Exotic hardwood species are prone to photosensitivity. So, when cumaru reacts to sunlight, its color grows darker over time.

How do you finish cumaru?

If you’re lucky enough to acquire unfinished cumaru, it will require special attention in order to finish it. The natural oils in the wood won’t allow it to accept just any stain. The best type of finish to use is a tung oil floor finish. It’s able to penetrate deeper into the wood without any adhesion issues.

How long does cumaru decking last?

We discussed that cumaru makes an excellent outdoor flooring option. It’s highly durable against weather events and resistant to rot, decay, and wood-eating insects. With all these factors, cumaru decking has a lifespan of over 50 years.

Does cumaru turn gray?

We know the sun affects the color of cumaru. While it tends to darken over time, cumaru may also turn gray when used as decking. To avoid this, you can protect the cumaru by applying a UV finishing. No further treatment should be needed beyond this.

Summing It Up

Cumaru is one of the most durable floors on the market, more so than many domestic hardwoods. It comes in a variety of beautiful colors with a shiny, smooth surface that brings luxury and brightness to your space.

Responsibly sourced in South and Central America, cumaru is readily available and inexpensive. You probably won’t be able to finish it yourself, though. In addition to being tough to stain, cumaru is often hard to find in its unfinished form.

It can be most difficult to install and it’s prone to gapping, but it’s also highly resistant to scratches, dents, and decay. Whether you opt for indoor or outdoor cumaru flooring, you’ll be able to enjoy its beauty for a long, long time.

Brigid Levi

Brigid Levi is a wife, mother, and freelance writer who enjoys a good DIY project and creating beautiful spaces within her home. From cleaning and organization hacks to home decor ideas, she loves helping people in their quest to turn a house into a home. Her hobbies include pretending to be Joanna Gaines while updating her home with her husband and performing in local theater productions.

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