We all know that mahogany is the number one option for many people out there when it comes to hardwood flooring. However, this fantastic wood comes in many different species. African mahogany is one of them, and it is being used as a genuine mahogany substitute for a long time now.
So, is African mahogany good for flooring? Here is your complete guide to African mahogany.
African Mahogany Wood: The Basics
African mahogany (also known as Khaya spp.) is a great hardwood that originates from Africa. It is growing in popularity as its species is being replanted across many tropical regions such as Central America.
Khaya spp. (the term spp. Stands for multiple species) includes five species under the Meliaceae family.
Here are some of the essential characteristics of the African mahogany wood:
- Color: Can range from a pale pink to a muted orange to reddish-brown or golden brown
- Grains: Can range from straight to interlocked and has a medium to coarse texture
- Durability: Moderately durable
- Workability: Easy to work with
These are the top four characteristics of African mahogany wood.
Uses of African Mahogany
It is one of the most crucial timber woods in Africa and is the most used alternative of genuine mahogany.
African mahogany is used for flooring, panels, trims, cabinets, and furniture making. Other uses include boatbuilding, producing plywood, the rich color and grains also make it a popular choice for making veneer.
Is African Mahogany a Good Wood for Flooring?
Choosing the wood for flooring is all about the quality and appearance of the wood. Good quality African mahogany is an excellent flooring material. It is rich in color, has beautiful grain, and has moderate to high rot and termite resistance.
The African Mahogany a hardwood with dense fibers. The Khaya wood has a hardness measuring approximately 830 pounds on the Janka hardness scale.
Appearance: Grain and Color
The African mahogany has a beautiful grain that is mostly interlocked. It will give a unique look to your flooring. However, if you are after straight grain you might want to go for South American mahogany.
Of course, the best part is the colors that come with this wood. Generally speaking, the lighter the color is, the lower the quality of the wood. This is because the lighter shade is usually an indication of sapwood. If you look at the hardwood vs softwood illustration you can see that genuine hardwood has very little sapwood.
That is why if you want African mahogany flooring, you should always opt for a darker color. It will add some aesthetic quality to the rest of your house and be great for flooring. Keep in mind that the best African mahogany wood will have a rich red color.
The African mahogany is easy to cut using a flooring saw or table saw and drill with regular or titanium drill bits. For mahogany flooring, you can use flooring nailers and it glues and finishes perfectly.
Since many other wood species are marketed as mahogany, finding a supplier that provides high-quality African mahogany is essential.
Genuine Mahogany Vs. African Mahogany
Many people wonder if genuine and African mahogany are the same. Keep in mind that genuine mahogany is a title given to the Swietenia genus found in Central and South America. There are species of mahoganies in other regions besides South and Central America.
|African Mahogany||Genuine Mahogany|
|Scientific Name||Khaya spp.||Swietenia macrophylla|
|Other Names||Khaya antotheca, Lagos Mahogany||Honduran Mahogany, Cuban mahogany|
|Rot Resistance||Moderate to Excellent||Moderate to Good|
|Color||Light pinkish-brown to reddish||Yellowish brown to deep reddish-brown|
|Grain||Mostly interlocked with some straight||Mostly straight grain with some interlock|
|Janka Hardness||830 lbf (3700 N)||800 lbf (3600 N)|
The scientific name for genuine mahogany is Swietenia macrophylla, one of the two species that are part of the Swietenia genus. The second genus of this species is the Khaya, and it is also part of the mahogany family of trees. At least three species of Khaya are found in Africa, and African mahogany is one of them.
Khaya and Swietania are true mahoganies. However, they differ in terms of a few things, which include:
Genuine mahogany is denser and performs well during machining and carving. Besides that, it is more stable during drying and finishing. That is why it is one of the most popular woods out there for cabinetry and flooring.
On the other hand, we have African mahogany. The wood responds the same as genuine mahogany when it comes to drying, finishing, and cutting. That is why this wood is popularly used for furniture.
Both genuine and African mahoganies are ideal for musical instruments such as guitar because of their tonal qualities. However, they are used for many other things, including flooring, cabinetry, different plywood, paneling, fixtures, and much more.
The color range of African mahogany goes from a light pinkish color to a rich red color. The grain and texture are varied as they can range from straight to interlocked.
On the other hand, genuine mahogany is the closest to orange and has a fine and straight grain.
Another difference is that you will notice that the wood has different hues and colorings when you move the Africa mahogany. That is because it provides a luster you will not find in the South American species. So, both these mahoganies have a distinguished appearance.
Genuine mahogany is more durable than its African counterpart, which is why it is more expensive. However, the gap in pricing has increased over the last few years due to political interferences. These political interferences have caused the supply of genuine mahogany to decrease and the cost to rise.
On the other hand, African mahogany is an affordable substitute for genuine mahogany. That is why many craftsmen and woodworkers are using the African species now. It provides affordability with almost the same functionality as genuine mahogany.
Last but not least, we have the longevity of both these woods. Keep in mind that African and genuine mahoganies are termite-resistant. However, African mahogany does not have the same resistance as genuine mahogany when it comes to beetles.
Both wood species offer very good resistance against wood rot because they are high in density. However, genuine mahogany is much denser than African mahogany and hence is much more long-lasting.
Pros and Cons of African Mahogany
Here are some of the pros and cons of African mahogany.
Advantages of African Mahogany
Let’s start with the pros:
1. Attractive Appearance
The main reason many people opt for mahogany flooring is the attractive appearance. High-quality African mahogany is rich red and has a gorgeous grain pattern. That is why these are perfect for interior flooring and cabinetry.
Of course, you don’t have to opt for the rich red color as African mahogany is available in various colors. You can choose from any one of them to make your home look the best. Whichever you choose will surely give your home an attractive appearance.
Mahogany is one of the most durable woods you will find out there. Yes, genuine mahogany may be more durable than the African one, but even African mahogany can last a long time. If it is under good care and maintenance, it can last a few decades.
That is why users of African mahogany should know how to take care of the wood properly. It will allow them to extend the lifespan of their wood and get value for money in the long run. Just make sure to keep beetles away from the African mahogany, and you will be good.
When it comes to rot resistance, the African mahogany is moderately durable. That means it is somewhat resistant to decay and will not rot quickly. Just keep in mind that while African mahogany is termite-resistant, it does not offer the same beetle resistance.
That is why care should be taken of the African mahogany, and any insect problems should be taken care of immediately. If the problem prolongs for too long, it can ruin the wood. Interior flooring does not pose such issues, which is why its rot resistance works perfectly well indoors.
African mahogany is incredibly popular, which is why you will find it everywhere. Almost all woodworkers and craftsmen have this wood in stock due to its availability. That is why if you want something for your flooring that is readily available, African mahogany is a great option.
Mahogany species are one of the most readily available woods. However, genuine mahogany has seen a significant drop in supply. Of course, you will find African mahogany in abundance anywhere.
5. Easy to Work With
Last but not least, African mahogany is easy to work with. The wood can be worked with small and large tools depending on the use. The carving turns out beautiful on this wood.
Besides that, it glues and polishes well, which means it is the perfect choice for flooring. That is why many homeowners are making use of this beautiful wood for their interior flooring. It will readily be installed in no time because of its easy workability.
Cons of African Mahogany
Here are some cons of African mahogany:
1. Gets Darker with Time
Keep in mind that all mahogany woods, even African mahogany, absorbs sunlight. Because of ultraviolet (UV) rays, it changes color and gets darker over time. That is why it is essential to maintain the wood properly.
If you plan on using African mahogany flooring, you should protect it from direct sunlight. When a room is not in use, you can close the curtains so that the sunlight does not affect the wood.
Constant exposure can lead to color change with time. This is especially a problem if some part of your wood flooring is covered and other areas are exposed to sunlight. For example, if you have area-rug or large furniture covering some parts of the floor, there will be a difference in color in those areas.
2. Production Is Becoming Limited
The demand for African mahogany keeps on increasing every year, and production is limited. That is why there is sometimes a shortage of this wood. While it is readily available everywhere, these places can soon run out of stock.
That is why it is essential to find a supplier that can get you the African mahogany with ease. High-quality African mahogany is always a rare find due to limited production capacity.
Is African Mahogany the Right Choice for You?
The answer to this entirely depends on what you want to use the wood for. If you want to use it for flooring, furniture, and cabinetry, it is a great wood that can offer a lot of use. On the other hand, it is not suitable for outdoor or patio furniture.
On the other hand, if the wood matches your preferences and budget, it is ideal for you. So, start hunting for the perfect African mahogany now and see the great use it provides you with.
Back to Contents
- African Mahogany Wood: The Basics
- Is African Mahogany a Good Wood for Flooring?
- Genuine Mahogany Vs. African Mahogany
- Pros and Cons of African Mahogany