Central and South American Hardwood: Preserving Your Wallet and Your Planet

In the clutches of winter, most of us count down the days to the first spring thaw and undertaking exciting new home projects. Whether it’s building a new deck, working on the bathroom or putting in new hardwood floors, something always needs doing.

If you’re thinking of doing anything with hardwood when planning for this year’s home improvement season, it would behoove your wallet, your planet and your sanity to install wood with a longer shelf life. “Of course,” you say to yourself. “That’s why I prefer cedar.”

But what if there was another type of wood that lasted twice as long as the toughest wood grown in North America? What if there was a type of wood that withstood the elements better, was more resistant to bugs and termites, and was more reluctant to bend and warp over time?

We may have to get our passports for this one.

Key Benefits of Central and South American Hardwood

Ipe. Cumaru. Garapa. Jatoba. Tigerwood.

These are just a few of the more well-known varieties of natural hardwood grown in Central and South America that have the potential to save you money and time in your next home improvement project.

 Here are the top 6 reasons these types of wood are better for you than their North American counterparts:

1. More Resilient

Central and South American hardwoods are more resilient in the face of adverse conditions and less prone to rot and decay – Central and South America are much harsher climates where the trees have to endure standing water for months at a time in addition to ravenous attacks by insects that put termites to shame. Let this hardwood turn the laws of Darwin in your favor.

2. No Annual Maintenance Required

Conventional hardwood requires annual pressure treatments with toxic chemicals to ensure long-lasting effectiveness. Central and South American hardwoods are much more durable and naturally last twice as long as North American hardwood without chemicals.

3. Better for the Environment

In the same vein, they are better for the environment due to this lack of chemicals. These toxic chemicals are harmful to the health of your family as well as the environment in the form of run-off – when it rains, the chemicals get into the groundwater and, ultimately, into rivers and lakes, poisoning natural wildlife in addition to our own water supply.

4. Last More Than Twice as Long as Conventional Hardwood

They are also better for the environment because they last more than twice as long – some for 40-75 years. The use of natural, longer-lasting materials helps to reduce waste accumulation, easily trumping woods like pine, cedar and redwood.

5. Fire Resistant

Some types of Central and South American hardwood, like Ipe, have a “Class A” fire rating – the same fire rating as concrete.

6. More Custom Color Options

A larger variety of shades and colors, like those offered by Brazilian hardwood, allow homeowners more choices to get the most custom look possible. Hardwoods like tiger wood have a unique texture with striking black and brown streaks – hence the name.

Composite wood substitutes, and what marketers have for years tried to pass off as the equivalent of natural wood, have largely been successful because they have only been compared to North American hardwood, so they tended to last longer and were less expensive.

But now it’s time to up the ante on your home improvement and go green with a more durable, longer-lasting and more attractive look. This can only be achieved via the preferential use of  Central and South American hardwood.

Jeff Hirz is a guest contributor to Handyman Matters and part-time DIYer. He contributed this article on behalf of www.bwdepot.com to promote healthy wallets and a healthy planet.