Favored in high-end homes as well as for premium decking, Teak is well known for its consistent grain patterns and honey brown coloring. With the constant changes and rising prices plaguing the Teak market, one of the species emerging as a viable alternative to meet the needs of modern aesthetics is Afromosia.
Sometimes referred to as “African Teak,” Afromosia, or Pericopsis elata, is imported from the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and Ghana. With grain and coloring similar to those of Teak, the appearance of this species rivals that of the highly-sought-after Burmese species. As far as durability goes, Afromosia boasts moderate levels of silica to make it an excellent choice for exterior applications. At the same time, this species doesn’t quite have the amazing waterproof abilities unique to Teak, but that only frees up the Afromosia market from competition with the boat-building industry. Another benefit is that the rich golden color, which is achieved for Teak only after oxidation, is available as soon as Afromosia is sawn, decreasing the lead time needed before the lumber can be used.
Due to its hardness and stability, Afromosia is an excellent choice for millwork, making it ideal for trim, windows, and flooring. At the same time, the African species lacks the oily texture of Teak, making it easier to finish. For home builders and contractors, it’s really an ideal species with which to work. An added bonus is that it currently sells for about 50% the cost of Teak.
However, as the demand for Teak alternatives has continued to grow, Afromosia has been placed on the infamous CITES Appendix II.
With long-term viability at risk, the harvesting and trading of Afromosia is now tightly regulated, causing longer lead times and less availability. Typically, such changes mean climbing prices, as well, but those have not yet surfaced. While it’s easy to focus on the short-term frustrations, the aim of CITES is to make endangered species into sustainable options for the future instead of allowing them to become entirely eliminated. Hopefully, with improved management, Afromosia will be removed from the CITES list.
This isn’t the first time an alternative species has become more difficult to source due to a spike in demand, and it certainly won’t be the last. Once considered a by-product of African Mahogany, Sapele, or Utile, the increased demand brought on by the issues surrounding Teak have at least brought Afromosia the long-awaited recognition it deserves.
Here at J. Gibson McIlvain, we take great pride in supplying legally and responsibly harvested exotic wood species that meet our uncompromising standards of quality. We look out for our customers’ best interests by staying on top of market fluctuations that make popular species difficult to source, and we’re always looking for comparable alternative species to recommend.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
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