Posted by          Hardwood Flooring    June 28, 2020

Don’t you just hate the cookie cutter lifestyle? One house looks like all the others in the neighborhood. You park your car in the parking lot, only to have trouble finding it because there are dozens just like it.

That’s not what you want. You want to create space that’s uniquely your own.

And you can do that … by personalizing the interior of your home.

That’s why many people have turned to exotic wood floors. And what’s not to love? Even saying it – exotic wood – it does something to you. It feels sexy, a little wild. It gives you a chance to let your true personality come to light.

But there’s a bigger problem with using exotic wood throughout your home. It’s your stairs. How do you match exotic wood floors to your staircase, and create the impression from the moment you walk through your doors?

Exotic wood floors – what are they?

If you’re still contemplating what flooring to install throughout your home, let’s start by defining what exotic wood floors are.

While there isn’t an exact definition set to industry standards, if you look at all the flooring manufacturers, you’ll find that they place exotic hardwood into a group that is defined by the following criteria:

Hard wood – this seems like a trick characteristic – aren’t all hardwood floors hard? Not necessarily. All wood falls somewhere on the Janka Hardness Scale. The Janka Hardness Scale starts at zero and moves up to a final score value of 4000. The lower it is on the scale, the softer the wood. If you go with a softer wood, it will be more easily dented and scratched. The higher the number, the harder the wood. However, you’ll never find hardwood flooring ranked around zero or 4000. Zero would be too soft to be functional, and 4000 would be so hard, it would be difficult to cut and lay into place. Instead, you’ll find all hardwood flooring materials scattered out somewhere in the middle.

How To Match Exotic Wood Floors To Your StaircaseJanka ratings show Douglas Fir to be ranked around 660 while Brazilian Cherry is at 2350. White oak is around 1360, while Santos Mahogany is at 2200.

When manufacturers are creating their exotic wood flooring line, they tend to place the hardest of wood floors – things like Brazilian Cherry and Santos Mahogany – into the exotic category. If you want a harder flooring for more resistance, focusing in on exotic will give you what you want.

Rich grains – it’s not just the hardness factor; it’s also the grain. If you’re looking for something with more character, more grain, more personality, look no further than exotic wood flooring. You’ll find their makeup to be more pronounced, creating a richer feeling once installed into your home.

Vibrant color – while softer woods tend to be more calm and subtle, you’ll find exotic woods tend to peak on the wild side. The colors are a bit bolder. The grain a bit more pronounced. The contrast can blend from light to dark, all on the same board. You won’t be able to ignore an exotic wood floor. It will say “look at me” from the moment you walk through the door.

Congratulations! You have a beautiful floor. Now what do you do with the stairs? 

We have a lot of homeowners spend days – weeks – finalizing their decisions around the perfect wood for their flooring. Yet as soon as they settle on their final choice, a new problem comes to light.

What about the staircase? Can you use exotic hardwood on the stairs?

The answer, of course, is anything is possible. But with a higher Janka rating and a more pronounced look and feel running through the wood, it can make things a bit tricky.

Your staircase shouldn’t stand out – not for looking out of place. You want it to have that wow factor from the moment you walk inside. Yes, it needs to blend in with your flooring on both levels. But it also needs to showcase strength and contour, stating from the moment you see it that it’s high quality and a thing of beauty. Ever walked up to a staircase that looks rickety and old? Were you nervous to climb it? That’s the difference. A grand staircase always sets the stage for a beautiful home.

Now it’s time to decide what’s right for your staircase. Do you use exotic wood floors on both levels of your home? Are you trying to blend hardwood with another flooring – maybe carpet on the second level?

Only you can decide the right transition for your home.

Just a few things to keep in mind. Hardwood stands up well to years of abuse. But your stairs will be one of the most abused areas of your home. You’ll be running up and down many times a day. That hard surface can take a lot of pounding. But if you have young kids or elderly family members, a hardwood surface can be more of a challenge. They can be a little slippier. They can also do more damage in a fall. That’s when covering your stairs with a runner might be your best course of action.

If you’re looking for a little separation, we love using risers in a different tone or color.

For some homeowners, they prefer sticking with two shades of wood. Use the exotic flooring from your main level for the top of each stair, then coordinate it with a lighter wood for the riser.

Or maybe you prefer paint. If your second level is lighter, softer, consider contrasting the riser with a shade of white. This can make your exotic hardwood flooring pop even more.

This isn’t the only way to separate your stairs from the risers. Some homeowners put on their design caps and really create personality. How about contrasting hardwood stairs with tile risers? The sky’s the limit when you start creating your own patterns with color. Other designers will go all out and get creative with their paint skills. If you’re creating a special look, why not create a one of a kind look by hiring an artist to stencil in something unique?

The good news is anything is possible. Start by scouring the internet and finding something that says “wow” to you.

Then talk with one of our designers. We’ll point you in the right direction, and help you make the right choice for your home.