When you’re looking for a wood with some color and aren’t partial to dyes or finishes, Domestic Cherry has always been a great choice. Its rich red tone adds class to any room, as it’s softer than maple, it’s not ideal for flooring. If you want the look of cherry but the hardness of oak, Brazilian Cherry Flooring is an excellent alternative.
What is Brazilian Cherry?
The first interesting fact about Brazilian Cherry is that it’s not actually cherry wood, but a species called Hymenaea Courbaril. This tree was initially known more for its fruit, than its wood. Commonly referred to as Jatoba, this building material was imported decades ago and touted as a durable exotic style of flooring. Thus the term “Brazilian Cherry” was born… even though it’s from the legume family and produces a foul-smelling fruit called locust or stinktoe.
This wood is found in South and Central America, Southern Mexico and parts of the West Indies. The trees can grow very tall topping out at over 100 feet, but generally only range between 2 – 4 feet in diameter.
While this hardwood has a look similar to aged or stained domestic cherry from the United States, it’s harder and certainly doesn’t smell like the fruit it produces.
The Pros and Cons of Brazilian Cherry Flooring
On reason Brazilian Cherry is so popular is its color. It’s a natural way to introduce a rich hue into a room and will make an otherwise drab room warm and inviting. It’s also considerably harder than most woods as well with a rating of between 2,300 and 2,600 on the hardness scale in most cases. To give you a rough idea of its toughness, red and white oak are around 1,300 and hickory is about 1,800.
Any hard flooring surface of this nature gets bonus points if you own pets or have children – both tend to be hard on flooring. Jatoba wood is also just as easy to clean and maintain as other styles of traditional wood flooring. People that suffer from allergies will appreciate solid planks in their home, and Brazilian Cherry will add value to your residence as well.
The Problem with Brazilian Cherry Wood…
One issue people can experience with Brazilian Cherry flooring is that it’s sensitive to light. Most hardwood flooring will change colors to a degree depending on how much light exposure it receives. Some species like Jatoba actually darken over time, so you’ll want to think about lighting in general and rotate rugs, or you could end up with a problem on your hands…
Pricing may also put a damper on things quickly depending on your budget considering some forms of this flooring can run over $7.00 per square foot. Another potential problem with some consumers could be sustainability as these trees aren’t fast growers and are only found in a few parts of the world. While Brazilian Cherry isn’t as popular as it was when it was initially introduced in the U.S., it can come from sensitive parts of the globe and rainforests where overharvesting is an issue.
Any exotic wood that comes from a rainforest should be vetted carefully if you want to stay eco-friendly. Companies that only harvest from secondary forests are an ideal option, and the Forest Stewardship Council is a great resource if you want to dig deeper.
Types of Brazilian Cherry Flooring
There are only two styles of Brazilian Cherry flooring with solid and engineered wood. Solid wood is the more durable option overall and installing this type of flooring throughout your home will increase its overall value. Solid floors have a longer lifespan than an engineered product as well and can be sanded and refinished multiple times.
This type of flooring is “solid” from top to bottom but is more expensive to install. The price per square foot can be double that of engineered flooring in some cases, and you’ll want to hire a Pro more often than not. Solid flooring is also not a good option for below-grade rooms or anywhere that can flood or has a lot of moisture.
Prefinished or Unfinished?
If you buy solid hardwood flooring, you often the option to buy it already finished or unfinished. You’re generally going to pay more if it has a half dozen layers of coating across the top, but there are more pros than cons.
Buying finished floors saves you a lot of time and effort when it comes to prepping, staining and sealing your floors. Cure times won’t be an issue and neither will noxious odors. On the other hand, buying unfinished planks allows you total control over the final look and lets you fix any damage from the installation process as well.
Engineered Brazilian Cherry flooring is popular for a good reason – it’s cheap and easy to install. It has the edge over solid Jatoba in both of those areas and comes in more styles and finishes. It’s made in layers with a wood veneer on top, which can vary from extremely thin to fairly thick depending on the quality of the product.
When looking for top quality engineered Brazilian Cherry, quality is critical. Companies produce more engineered Jatoba products than solid planks, so the price and overall quality vary. While there are some amazing engineered woods available, they still tend to look fake and don’t feel nearly as solid underfoot.
Brazilian Cherry Brands Prices List
Cost / sq. ft.
Solid & Engineered
$4.99 - $5.79
Online & Local
Solid & Engineered
Solid & Engineered
$3.99 - $5.89
$3.89 - $6.19
Online & Local
The Best Brazilian Cherry Brands and Retailers
Companies that make Brazilian Cherry flooring are scattered across the globe as it’s an exotic wood that isn’t as popular as oak or hickory. That means some brands are a little harder to vet while others may only have a few product lines, but it’s relatively easy wood to find overall.
Hurst Hardwoods is a flooring store that specializes in hardwood floorings, stair treads, and luxury vinyl. They carry many popular brands and have the largest selection of Brazilian Cherry flooring overall. That includes finished and unfinished solid hardwood flooring along with a nice selection of engineered planks.
Hurst’s brand lineup is expansive, so you can find engineered flooring from Ark and IndusParquet along with a handful of lesser-known brands. The length, warranty, and method of installation varies from product to product, but it’s safe to say they have a little something for everyone – including contractors. Their selection of solid unfinished and prefinished Brazilian Cherry is impressive with prices starting at $3.99 and topping out at over $6.00 per square foot for some clear grade tongue and groove solids.
While you won’t find more Brazilian Cherry in stock anywhere else, most of the flooring at Hurst is on the high end of the pricing spectrum. The company ships to all 50 states along with Canada and a few other countries.
IndusParquet may not be a familiar name, but they’ve been importing and producing hardwood flooring from Brazil since the 70s. They also have one of the larger collections of exotic woods from that country including Walnut, Chestnut and Brazilian Cherry.
Currently, there are three styles of Brazilian Cherry flooring available, two of which are unique. The hand scraped Brazilian Cherry Rogue, and French Bleed are a little darker, and less prone to darkening from light than other styles. These engineered planks are a ½” thick and 5” wide, but can be resanded thanks to a thick top layer.
The company also has a lighter board with a more natural look that’s smoother, but you prefer something smoother and more in-line with classic cherry, with higher light sensitivity. It’s available in varying sizes in both engineered and solid hardwood form. Smooth Santos Mahogany is also an option if you like the reddish-brown hue, and want it to stay that way.
When you want flooring from Brazil that’s Lacey ACT and CARB compliant, Indusparquet is well worth a look. They are one of a handful of companies with high-quality Brazilian Cherry flooring, and their engineered products can be used anywhere in your home. You can find their flooring in a variety of stores across the United States and at a few select retailers online.
Bellawood is the main brand sold through Lumber Liquidators, and a great option if you’re looking for something in the budget range. They currently have around three types of Jatoba wood available in shades ranging from a brown to a warm deep red.
The regular Brazilian Cherry lineup consists of solid flooring that’s ¾” thick and comes in two widths at 2 ¼” and 5” with a 2,820 on the Janka scale. The prefinished planks work best with nails, but you can use approved glue as well. Their Select line has two products with 3 ¼” x ¾” solid planks and 5 1/8” engineered boards that are a half inch thick.
The brown variant is unique as its 7 ½” wide prefinished engineered flooring with a matte finish. There are a couple of other brands available as well with R.L. Colston and Builders Pride. Bellawood and Builders Pride’s Cherry is GreenGuard Gold certified for low chemical emissions, but we didn’t notice any certification on Colston’s products.
All of Bellawood’s Brazilian Cherry flooring comes with a 100-year warranty, and while there isn’t much variance, the quality and pricing are solid. Depending on which shade and style you choose, you can expect to pay between $4.99 - $5.79 per square foot.
Build Direct is one of the more affordable places to find buy Brazilian Cherry flooring. They have a fairly wide selection, including several engineered planks that won’t break the bank. They also carry a wide array of moulding, reducers, and vents to match your Jatoba hardwood floors.
The main line carried by Build Direct is from Mazama who has nine products ranging from natural to dark brown in color. They are prefinished with urethane or UV cured oil and come in two grades. All their planks are solid, but Vanier and Jasper have engineered flooring in a total of three shades between them with Piano Tone, Natural and Classic Brazilian Cherry. Pricing on the engineered flooring ranges from $3.29 to $5.29 per square foot.
While there aren’t as many eco-friendly details on Mazama's flooring, it looks to be well made with an ample layer of coating on either style. That said, the Premium grade flooring has a 25-year residential warranty while Builders grade flooring only has a 15-year guarantee.
Laminate and other flooring styles that mimic the look of Brazilian Cherry are available. While they can’t hold a candle to real wood, they are an alternative if your budget is tight or you want the look of wood without some of the headaches.
Vinyl plank flooring is the next best option to wood when it comes to durability, and it can handle water and moisture better than the real thing. TrafficMASTER has a nice lineup of Brazilian Cherry boards and luxury vinyl flooring along with brands like Mohawk and Armstrong. Other brands to look for include BR111, Kährs, Home Legend, and Vesdura.
If you enjoy the reddish-brown shades of Brazilian Cherry and want a wooden alternative with a similar look, Santos Mahogany could be a suitable option. It ranks a little lower on the hardness scale, but a good finish can shorten that gap in considerably. It can be a little harder to come by in large quantities; however, compared to Jatoba and generally has a higher price as well.