Walnut is one of the darker woods used in hardwood flooring, and a stylish choice that suits a wide variety of homes. Brazilian Walnut can provide you with some of the characteristics that make the wood special, but is harder than its domestic counterpart and brings a distinct tone to any room.
The Wonderful Walnut Tree
While we’re only going to go in-depth with Brazilian Walnut, it’s important to understand there’s is more than one type of Walnut tree. If you live in the United States, you have probably seen plenty of Walnut trees or may even have one in your backyard. There are around 20 different species, but only a few are used in flooring with American or Domestic Walnut and Brazilian Walnut, otherwise known as IPE.
The Pros and Cons of Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Brazilian Walnut is another imported tree that’s commonly known as Ipe. This hardwood comes from forests in South America and has some unique properties that make it ideal for hardwood flooring. Obviously, the warm, classy color is one advantage, especially if you want to give your home an old-world feel…
Brazilian Walnut Advantages
We’ve already touched on how tough this type of wood is, which makes it ideal for people with pets or high traffic areas. It can still scratch, so you’ll want several layers of high-quality finish, but it will hold up much better than other woods over time. A thick solid hardwood floor made of Brazilian Walnut can last a lifetime (or two) if properly maintained.
This wood is incredibly dense which gives it a natural resistance to rot and bugs. Moisture and other issues that plague softer woods aren’t an issue with Brazilian Walnut. Ipe has an excellent fire rating and “some” planks can be installed over radiant heat systems with ease. In a nutshell, it’s one of the most durable types of hardwood flooring you can buy, it doesn’t have to be refinished often, and it handles moisture and other issues with ease. Here’s how it stacks up on the hardness scale against other woods commonly used in flooring.
Northern Red Oak
Brazilian Walnut Flooring Problems
While there are more Brazilian Walnut pros than cons, there are a few Ipe issues you may encounter due to its unique nature. The hardness of this material makes it difficult to work with, so it isn’t something you want to tackle if you’ve never installed hardwood before. You will have to drill holes before you drive nails, and you can waste a lot of material if you’ don’t know what you’re doing.
Brazilian Walnut can cost more per square foot to install and isn’t cheap in general compared to more common woods. You’re not going to find quality Ipe for under $4.00 per square foot unless it’s on sale, engineered or being discontinued by the manufacturer. The style itself is also something to consider with Brazilian Walnut floors. Dark tones may not suit every room and show a lot of dust, so think about your décor now along with any plans to upgrade in the future.
How to Find the Best Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Brazilian Walnut can be found in the three standard formats with solid, engineered and laminate. While laminate and other forms of design flooring may look like Ipe, we are only going to focus on engineered and solid planks.
Usually, engineered flooring is the best option for rooms that can get wet like a bathroom, kitchen or basement. Well, sold Brazilian Walnut can handle water well enough that it can be used in those rooms with the necessary precautions. It’s much better in damp rooms than most common styles of hardwood flooring but not quite on the level of engineered planks in that regard.
Solid flooring is more expensive which means the quality and grade is even important – especially if you want to increase the value of your home. Engineered flooring in this class can have grades as well considering it’s a popular material compared to something like Bamboo or Cork. Thickness and length will vary from brand to brand as will the wear layer or top coat. Despite its hard nature, you’ll still want a solid layer of coating to keep your floors safe from scratches.
As for coloring, this flooring ranges from olive to chocolate brown so you’ll have a lot of shades to choose from. That varies by grade as well so you can find a stable dark heartwood or planks with plenty of color variations. It’s not overly sensitive to light like Brazilian Cherry but can experience discoloration over time like most exotic hardwood flooring and furniture. Choosing a
Are you trying to green or need flooring that meets certain standards? If so, you’ll want to pay close attention to each product’s certifications. FloorScore, GreenGuard, and other Eco-agencies can help you find information on the harvesting practices they use. You can also find FSC certified Brazilian Walnut if you are concerned about sustainability or consider American Walnut if you like the look and aren’t as concerned about durability.
Brazilian Walnut Brands Prices List
Cost / sq. ft.
$5.39 - $7.69
$3.49 - $4.69
$3.49 - $7.49
Solid & Engineered
$3.99 - $8.99
$3.59 - $4.89
Best Flooring Brands and Stores
Picking up boxes of Brazilian Walnut isn’t quite as easy as strolling into your local hardware store and browsing products on a shelf. It’s generally not found at big box retailers unless it’s in its engineered form, so local flooring stores or buying online will be the best option for most consumers.
If you’re buying online, there won’t be many if any reviews, so look into social media and check BBB ratings when in doubt.
One of the first places you should look for Brazilian Walnut flooring is Fantastic-Floor. This online retailer is based out of Vancouver, Washington and has more brands in stock than other shops. That includes flooring from Ark, Easoon and Ribadao along with their own store-branded line.
Fantastic-Floor has both engineered and solid hardwood flooring. There are eight different styles and sizes of engineered available with shades like Ipe Espresso, Coffee and Ebony. Prices range from $2.50 to $6.29 per square foot although most are on the lower end of the pricing scale. There are around 11 styles of solid boards including some interesting options like Ipe Herringbone and the Ipe Natural Smooth Select.
Prices for their solid flooring is $5.59 to $7.50 per square foot depending on the style and grade of the product. The certifications vary from product to product, just like the lengths and widths, but you can read more about their sustainability practices at their official site.
As the name implies, Hurst Hardwoods specializes in hardwood flooring. That includes all the popular domestic trees along with exotics like Tiete Rosewood, Tigerwood, Wenge, and Brazilian Walnut. Like many shops, they offer their own brand of boards as well as products from some of the top flooring companies.
The majority of Hurt’s Brazilian Walnut flooring is from their store brand and ranges from 2 ¼” to 8” in width whether you need finished or unfinished planks. They carry engineered and solid flooring with pricing varying by grade and width. On average, prices range from around $4.50 to $7.50 for “normal’ sizes. Triangulo, Ribadao, and IndusParquet also have a few product lines available in solid and engineered form.
Hurst Hardwoods is another online flooring retailer, so it’s difficult to check out the wood beforehand unless you pick up samples. We felt their pricing overall was reasonable and like the fact they ship to every state along with Canada and a few other regions.
Lumber Liquidators is our top option when it comes to brick & mortar stores. While they don’t have a wide selection, you can check out the wood in person and get a better idea of what to expect. They have three styles of Bellawood Brazilian Walnut flooring and two shades from Colston. BuildDirect’s prices are a bit lower but more limited as they have one style of engineered flooring from Jasper in Espresso.
Whether you can’t find a shade you like in stock or need something a bit cheaper; there are some flooring alternatives you can turn to if hardwood IPE becomes more of a dream than a reality. The next best thing in our opinion would be luxury vinyl planks that look like Brazilian Walnut.
SmartCore IPE from Lowes is an affordable brand, and easy to deal with but not nearly as cheap as laminate flooring. Laminate IPE products can run a little over a $1.00 per square foot and are available from companies like Inhaus, Hampstead, and others. There are even porcelain tiles that look like Brazilian Walnut if you’re truly looking for something different or want to have your bathroom walls match your floors!