Hardness Rating: Wenge

Wenge Hardwood’s Beauty On Par With its Scarcity

Wenge hardwood features deep, dark tones that add drama to interiors. Often used in the creation of parquet floors, or as an accent with marble or woods of a contrasting color, Wenge can be seen in historic ballrooms and other grand spaces. When stained, the wood can be almost black, and its straight, coarse grain adds subtle dimension to the surface.

The wood’s low luster and sound-dampening qualities create a feeling of warmth and luxury perfect for spaces like libraries and dens. Because of its high cost and scarcity, manufacturers offer alternatives that include recycled, laminate and engineered Wenge.

Here are some things you should know about Wenge flooring:

Name: Wenge – pronounced WEN-ghay – is the name for the wood that comes from the Millettia laurentii tree. The tree is a member of the Millettia genus and is a relative of the pongam tree (Millettia pinnata), which is grown in Florida.

Origins: Wenge is native to Central Africa, and due to overharvesting and habitat loss, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists the Millettia laurentii tree as endangered

Janka Hardness Rating: With a Janka Hardness rating of 1630 out of 4000, Wenge is in the mid-range for hardwood flooring options – about midway between the softer North American Maple, and Hickory. 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: In its natural environment, Wenge bark has been ground down to dust to make toxins that stun fish for harvesting – and that dust may cause contact dermatitis and respiratory aggravation during sanding or machining. Wenge is resistant to termite damage and extremely durable, but its hardness may blunt tools during installation, so the use of special tools may be necessary.

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