Long a popular wood for crafting musical instruments and furniture, Zebrawood is the hardwood that makes an ordinary room extraordinary. The cream or caramel-colored heartwood and dark brown to black sapwood create a dramatic contrast suitable for art galleries and other refined spaces.
This exotic wood is becoming increasingly rare. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists the Zebrawood tree as “vulnerable” in its native habitat – meaning it’s not yet endangered, but it could be in the near future. So while commercial Zebrawood may still be available – and for a hefty price – a more sustainable alternative is an engineered hardwood with a Zebrawood veneer.
Here are some things you should know about Zebrawood flooring:
Name: Zebrawood’s familiar name comes from its contrasting heartwood and sapwood, which may resemble zebra stripes. Outside of the United States, it’s also called Zingana and Zebrano. Its scientific name is Microberlinia brazzavillensis.
Origins: Zebrawood grows in the African nations of Gabon, Cameroon and Congo.
Janka Hardness Rating: With a Janka Hardness rating of 1830 out of 4000, Zebrawood is in the high-medium range of hardwoods. The Janka Hardness scale is used to determine a hardwood’s resistance to dents, dings and scratches. The test, which uses a 2” x 2” x 6” piece of a wood specimen and a steel ball, determines how many pounds per square inch of force will make the steel ball embed halfway into the wood. That result leads to the wood’s Janka Hardness rating. Woods at the low end of the scale will show more evidence of dings compared to those at the top. However, woods at the very top of the Janka Hardness Scale could be too difficult to cut for home applications.
Installation: Zebrawood’s interlocking grain may present some difficulty when sanding, and care must be used to avoid grain tear out. The wood is also known for emitting an earthy, musty odor during planing or machining.
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