The Dramatic Beauty and Strength of Tigerwood

Tigerwood Grain

What Is Tigerwood?

Tigerwood is an exotic wood species that is best known for its beautiful grain. With its deep reddish/orange background with dark vein stripes, it is a dramatic and durable hardwood.

Exotic Beauty

Tigerwood is known by a variety of names – Brazilian koa, Congowood, African walnut, coubaril, bototo, zorrowood or muiracatiara, to name a few. Tigerwood may also refer to several different species of trees: Coula edulis, a tree species from tropical western Africa from Sierra Leone to Angola, Lovoa trichilioides, also African in origin, or Goncalo alves in South America (primarily Brazil). They all are evergreen varieties that prefer tropical or subtropical growing conditions, and all feature the same dramatic grain patterning, although the color may vary from region to region.

With trees growing up to a height of 80 feet or more, it can be found in the top canopy of forests as well as the lower story and has no special soil requirements. In fact, its growing popularity has led to export restrictions in Africa from some regions to limit over-cutting and excessive logging.

Tigerwood Properties

Tigerwood is considered very dense and heavy with a Janka hardness up to 2160 depending on the growing region (67% harder than Red Oak at 1210) and the Brazilian version has a specific gravity (SG) of 0.80. It is naturally resistant to rot and decay and will not attract mold and fungus growth, which makes it extremely popular not only for exterior use but also for furniture work, veneers, flooring and other wood projects where the dramatic look gives a certain flair to the finished product.

Tigerwood FlooringTigerwood is reported to air-dry well with some minor warping or checking (which can occur in extreme conditions) and it generally resists shrinkage and movement after drying. Tigerwood is dimensionally stable and resists twisting and warping, in the end, product. and will stand up well to wear.

Tigerwood has a wide range of coloring and striping. The striping can vary from fine lines to bold strokes and the color can have a large degree of color change from a light orange and tan to a deep reddish-brown. It also has a highly lustrous surface that is considered almost oily in appearance.

Tigerwood is commonly used to produce flooring products and is considered very durable, and it resists denting and wear very well. What is interesting about tigerwood is that it is often graded differently than other species when used for flooring applications because of the dramatic coloring, which is what makes tigerwood so desirable. As an example, lesser grades such as #1 Common refer to small milling defects or the lack of streaks in the end product. Clear grade tigerwood flooring is color-sorted for a rich pink color with pronounced brown and black streaks.

Working with Tigerwood

Tigerwood is considered only moderately difficult to work with, especially with hand tools. Cutting edges may wear down more quickly than with other wood species, so carbide tips or bits are recommended for power tools. Pre-drilling is also recommended when screwing and nailing tigerwood. These steps are best to accommodate the wood’s properties, but of course also to serve to protect your investment in this exotic wood choice.

Sanding can also present more of a challenge with this hard exotic wood, and for large applications like floors, professional preparation is recommended.

Tigerwood can be sealed for longer durability but weathers well naturally as well; no preservatives are needed. Depending on the amount of sunlight the wood will receive, the color will often gradually darken over time, accentuating its distinctive grain pattern and giving it a slightly more subtle striping and increased luster.

Moisture Content in Tigerwood

As with any other wood species, moisture content (MC) is crucial to protecting the longevity of any tigerwood end product.

Tigerwood can be processed locally to reduce import/export expenses, especially in hardwood flooring applications. As an example, most (if not all) tigerwood hardwood flooring is milled in South America because it is more cost-effective to ship finished materials than the raw lumber itself.

Click here to learn more about Orion moisture metersIt is typically dried to lower MCs for flooring applications, but as with any wood or wood product, it is vital to allow the wood to come to a gradual, natural balance with the relative humidity (RH) and temperature of the environment it will be installed and used in. This balance is referred to as the equilibrium moisture content, or EMC, and is of critical importance to preventing moisture-related problems in any wood product, but particularly in exotic woods that grow in dramatically different natural environments.

Using a wood moisture meter is the best way to accurately measure and assess the wood’s MC and to monitor the process of equilibration to its surrounding environment. Meters like the Orion® 930 Dual Depth pinless moisture meter have programmable SG settings for exotic woods as well as standard domestic woods, and can quickly and accurately measure the MC in both unfinished raw lumber and on finished products.

With accurate wood moisture measurement at every stage of the project, tigerwood end products will give years of dramatic strength and beauty wherever the end product will be used.


  1. Judith Klein says:

    Hi Larry!

    I’m renovating an old kitchen in Sydney. And stripped the skirting boards to find a real tiger-like pattern on the wood. I looked it up and suspect it is Tasmanian Tiger Myrtle. But it could be anything – I realised after reading your info.Thanks.

  2. Bryan McCool says:

    How can you bleach this wood to lightin it. I have tried A B bleach but little to no color change

  3. Tony says:

    Can you match tiger wood, if half floor was damaged..??

    • Tony Morgan says:

      Since there are many wood species known as Tigerwood, without knowing the exact species and where it came from, it would be extremely difficult to match a pre-existing floor. You might try contacting a company that specializes in Tigerwood products to see if the flooring can be matched.

  4. Timmy says:

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for your informative notes on Tiger wood. In the Philippines, woodworkers will call a type of tree Tiger wood, and I’ve always wondered what tree it really is. Recently I saw the inside of the Philippine Tiger wood. The colors of your samples seem to match the colors I’ve seen in the Tiger wood in the Philippines. My question is, do you know if Tiger wood grows in the Philippines?


    • Tony Morgan says:

      I am unaware of any Tigerwood grown in the Philippines, the majority of commercial Tigerwood comes from South America (primarily Brazil).

  5. Linda Robson says:

    I find that my tiger wood floors are very prone to denting and yet I had it installed because of it’s hardness. I’m disappointed.

    • Tony Morgan says:

      The Janka hardness (a test that measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear) varies greatly for the different species known as Tigerwood. For example, Lovoa trichilioides measures about 940, while Goncalo Alves can have a hardness of up to 2160 (red oak is typically around 1120).

      Since Tigerwood is a generic name for multiple species, knowing which Tigerwood species you are having installed can make a world of difference when it comes to denting and wear resistance.

  6. Mark Lozito says:

    We are installing Tigerwood rainsiding in an atrium. The longest lengths being 12’. What precautions should we take when butting the the inside corners. We would like a seamless look but living in Phoenix wonder about the expansion and contraction. Installing in 60 degrees but can reach up to 120. Any suggestions?



    • Larry Loffer says:

      Hi Mark,

      The answer depends on the relative humidity that may change, such as from season to season. If this is a controlled environment that can be kept at constant humidity, then you can get away with butting the pieces together.

      What concerns me is the wide swing in temperature. This usually means quite a change in humidity as well.

      I would leave space in this situation just in case.

  7. Jo says:

    Hi there, our flooring is only two years old. I’ve babied this flooring but it has what looks like water marks all over it. I’m beside myself. The floors look great for the first day after cleaning but the marks return and it looks terrible. Almost like the finish has been damaged. The only think i can think of was that my mop head had somethinh on it. It litterly happened over night. Is there anything I can apply to it to bring back its original luster.

  8. charmaine says:

    Larry I have arcadia tiger wood floor. My house was just flooded. Part of the wood needs to be replaced. Do I have to pull up all the flooring in the house? I’m worrying about it all matching.

    • Larry Loffer says:

      Hi Charmaine,

      Since you mentioned a flood all the flooring will need to be removed and the sub-floor examined.
      If you had an appliance leak, then only part of the floor would need to be replaced/examined.
      Mold is a concern if all of the moisture isn’t removed.

  9. Diana says:

    I am installing tiger wood on my deck do I need to preserve this wood due to exterior conditions. I live in the Upstate of SC ?

  10. Chris says:


    I am installing albino rhino tigerwood. What is the best type of sealer that will not darken the colors of the wood. Also, is it necessary to even seal this? This will be placed through out the main floor.

  11. Jodi Low says:

    Hi Larry, we have had tiger wood in our garage for 3 weeks prior to starting an interior flooring project. We laid 6 planks and then decided to measure moisture content. Our sub floor is 8 and the tiger wood ranges from 13 to 21%. After discovering this we brought as much into the house as possible. The moisture content is barely changing. Do you know how long we can expect it to take? We are keeping the house (new construction) at about 70 degrees. How do I calculate EMC? I need to know when my wood has reached it.

    • Larry Loffer says:

      Hi Jodi,

      My first concern is that you have the right setting/correction factor for Tigerwood for your moisture meter.
      If you are using one of ours, the SG setting is .85.

      Second, we have a free APP called “WoodH2O”. It can be downloaded for either an iPhone or Android.
      This APP has a function that will give you the EMC.

  12. Stuart Scheckner says:

    Hello Larry,
    I have an engineered tigerwood floor. Still, after 5 years, it still has a wood odor especially strong at 80 degrees. The first month after installation, I had a severe reaction to the outgassing even though I was told there were no VOC’s. I am chemically sensitive and I do not know what to do as I feel it is adversely affecting my health. I am keeping the temperature in the house lower but it is still somehow outgassing. I would very much appreciate your advice.
    Thank you,

    • Larry Loffer says:

      Hi Stuart,

      If you are certain the outgassing is coming from the Tigerwood, perhaps a layer of some type of sealer or lacquer will do the trick. This should seal in the emissions.

  13. Charlene says:

    Larry I have an old rocking chair that is tiger wood. I have to refinish it. What do I use to treat it?

  14. Larry Markham says:

    Hi Larry,

    We recently purchased a new home in Omaha with tiger wood throughout the main level. We have a humidifier set to 35% – is there a recommended humidity range specific to tiger wood? Thanks Larry!

    • Larry Loffer says:


      There isn’t a special humidity level for tiger wood that I know of.
      You will want to keep the same percent humidity level when the floor was installed.
      In other words, if the flooring was equilibrated to 40% humidity when installed, you will want to keep the same humidity level. This will keep the tiger wood from shrinking or swelling.

  15. Cheryl Rasko Ferris says:

    Can you lay tiger flooring over radiant floor heating. It is the hot water radiant in concrete. Would like to use this flooring but are getting mixed responses on this.

    • Jason Spangler says:


      Thanks for the question. This is a better question posed to the specific flooring manufacturer you will be using for your floor. In general, I have heard of many different species being used over radiant heat without issue. Good luck.

  16. Hi Larry,
    My husband and I are building a house in upstate NY. The temps range from minus 20 Fahrenheit in the winters and about 100 F in the summers. We are using Tigerwood decking as an accent to the siding we are putting up. Do you have any information on how Tigerwood ages and the best species to use for this?
    Best, Samantha

    • Larry Loffer says:

      Hi Samantha,

      Solid Tigerwood is an expensive exotic hardwood that is normally used indoors, in a temperature controlled environment, for flooring or furniture. There are engineered Tigerwood products that are designed for siding. Just make sure that it is rated for your extreme temperatures.

  17. John Blackmar says:

    Hi Larry,

    I am looking at Tigerwood vs composite material for a deck project. This new deck project is only steps from the ocean. It will be exposed to salt spray and during a big storm it will get hit with salt water. Do you see a problem with that?


    • Tony Morgan says:

      Tigerwood decking is naturally resistant to rot and decay and usually has a 25-year plus life span. This makes it a great choice for decking. Saltwater or spray should not have much impact on the life of the deck. However, over time, the salt environment will probably have an effect on the look of the deck and it will show weathering unless it is stained and also cleaned on a regular basis. Oil-based deck stains with a UV inhibitor are the best choice for slowing the weathering process.

  18. Scott Jarmer says:


    I am currently looking for samples of Tigerwood to use for knife handles. How could I go about finding a source of this tigerwood? Would there be an installer that deal in this that i could get some of the unused cuttings from?

  19. Pamela Everette says:

    We have a tigerwood floor on our front porch. It was gray. We cleaned and then used sander preparing the wood for a protective water shield. Using the sander caused several dents in the floor. Do you have a suggestion on how to fill those, etc.

    Thanks you.

    Pam Everette

    • Jason Spangler says:


      Thanks for the question. When you say “dent” I am going to assume you mean areas where the sander got away from you and sanded too much wood. This tends to be a common issue if you aren’t intimately familiar with sanding equipment and the sanding process. In this situation, most would say the best way to help this is to blend the affected area, or sand it so its not so drastic and noticeable. Depending on the situation, this may also be an option

  20. Nancy says:

    We had a tiger wood deck installed last year and they put varnish on it which is now peeling.
    What’s the best way to clean it off and refinish the wood?

    • Jason Spangler says:


      Thanks for the questions. Sometimes, depending on how loose the varnish is, you can just power wash, but in other cases, you may have to sand. I would find the product you are going to use to refinish the deck and consult them for proper preparation in order to use their product effectively.

  21. Gene Sapp says:

    We are planning to put tiger wood for ceiling underneath front porch and lanai in a new construction home
    Will this work and if so do I need to seal it? I live in southern Georgia where we have hot summers and sometimes cold winters. It won’t have direct sunlight
    Thanks for your help

    • Jason Spangler says:


      Thanks for the questions. It looks like Tigerwood is lauded as being very dimensionally stable which is what you are most concerned about in this application. This being said, I would still consult a local professional to verify this and get there opinion prior to proceeding. Good luck.

  22. Margaret Wade says:

    I put area rugs on newly laid tigerwood floors 4 years ago before they darkened. How do I now darken them to match? Can they be stained or refinished somehow?

    • Jason Spangler says:


      Thanks for the question. Depending on how bad the situation is you may be able to rotate the rugs to other areas of the house, allowing the lighter areas to be exposed to the UV. Doing this may darken the wood helping to blend the variations. You may also be able to sand and refinish depending on how deep the discoloration penetrates the wood. Contact a qualified sand and finish professional in your area. Good luck.

  23. Sharron Keeney says:

    I have engineered Bruce Tigerood installed in our house. We have a dog that has left some deep scratches on portions of the floors. We have area rugs in three of the rooms so their is just some deep scratches around the edges that the rugs did not cover and the stairs going up to the second level. Can anything be done to just repair the deep scratches without doing al the floors? The areas covered are in pristine shape.

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