Why does my Exotic wood floor look different than the sample I saw at the store?

First let’s understand that this phenomenon occurs with all hardwoods, whether domestic or imported, common or exotic.

Secondly, it is most noticeable and dramatic when hardwood floors are installed in their natural condition, in other words, unstained.

What happens, and it happens every time, is that the sample you see in the showroom is the color your floor will end up becoming, and this is the key, not the color that will be installed.

Hardwood changes color over time. In some species the color change is very gradual and over such a long period of time that you will either never notice or when you do will shrug your shoulders and say to yourself, Cie La Vie. The color change for these species is subtle; these species tend to be, but not all, common domestics such as Oak, Maple, Pine, Hickory, etc.

On the other hand the hardwoods we call exotics, again whether imported or domestic makes no difference, have brilliant and dramatic change in colors over a shorter period of time than those mentioned above.  Unless properly explained upfront the initial installation can be both frustrating and scary as you feel a mistake has been made. Trust us, unless you have bought from a flat out and out disreputable company, they are installing the right product. The apparent problem is the new wood being delivered to your home can be absolutely and dramatically different.

Why does this happen?

It is simply a function of wood. All wood reacts to moisture, exposure to the elements, humidity and most importantly sunlight. All of these factor cause the wood to change in other words mature into the color you saw in the sample in the store. Please understand wood is a natural product and unlike man made things there is no guarantee that any two wood floors will end up being EXACTLY like the color you saw in the store’s sample. In fact, it is very unlikely. Think of the store sample as a pretty close cousin in the, no pun intended, family tree color way.

The nice thing about these dramatically different floors is that no two are ever alike. You truly have bought a unique product for your home; a product that will continue to evolve for the lifetime of your home. To buy a exotic hardwood requires your willingness to gamble a little, take a chance, understanding that the amount of sunlight, humidity, traffic, etc all affect how fast and how deeply the floor color will change. Examples of exotics, again whether imported or domestic does not matter, are Cherry, Walnut, Sandalwood, Tigerwood, etc.

If you don’t feel comfortable making this gamble or just feel you want a hardwood floor that is more predictable in its future coloring history you should stick with domestics as these have been acclimated to our environment since a seed and are less susceptible to change in reaction to the environment around them.

If you would like to learn more before you make a hardwood flooring purchase stop in any of our 12 Chicago area flooring stores and our professional sale staff will be happy to answer your questions and help you make the right selection.

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