What is Acacia Wood, and Is it Good for Flooring?
Learn About Acacia Wood: A Hard & Durable Flooring, with Unique Beauty at a Reasonable Price
Acacia wood is stronger and more durable than Hickory or Oak, so it certainly is a good choice for flooring. Grown in Australia and Asia, it is an exotic hardwood which makes it more expensive than domestic species, and its unique appearance won’t be to everybody’s taste.
Last Updated: June 14, 2023, by: Jamie Sandford
Once you’ve seen Acacia wood flooring the chances are you’ll never forget it. It certainly is unique in appearance and not for those who like uniformity in their flooring, as you can see from the image below. At Home Flooring Pros we think there’s something sensual and luxurious about this wood, but accept that it would only suit certain properties and, even then, should perhaps be used as part of a carefully considered interior design scheme. Read on to find out more about Acacia wood and whether it’s right for you.
MORE ABOUT ACACIA WOOD AND WHAT ELSE IT’S USED FOR
Acacia is a term that refers to more than 1,200 varieties of tree and shrub species that are native to Australia and Africa, but are also grown in parts of Asia, the Pacific Islands and North America. These varieties grow in diverse habitats including rainforests, woodlands and coastal dunes. The acacia species used in hardwood flooring are grouped into two categories: small leaf acacia and large leaf acacia.
Acacia is known by several other names, most commonly asian walnut and wattle. It is marked by a wide, open and modulating grain pattern combined with distinctive knots that produce beauty and interest. The wood is also resistant to water, mold and fire (NOTE-fire resistant, not fireproof!).
Richly colored acacia wood has many uses including:
- Attractive, durable wood flooring
- Elegant furniture
- Uniquely pattered bowls and plates
- Wind and string instruments
- Wood art
Acacia trees and shrubs also provide seeds that are ground into flour rich in fiber and protein, edible gum with antibacterial properties, tannins for tanning, and tinctures and ointments to treat a range of digestive and skin maladies.
ACACIA FLOORING OPTIONS
Like most wood flooring species, acacia is used in the production of three types of products.
Solid Acacia flooring is 3/4″ (19mm) thick. Plank width ranges from 3” to 5”. Standard and hand scraped acacia flooring is produced in solid wood.
Engineered Acacia flooring is available in 3/8” (10mm) and 1/2″ (12mm) thicknesses with plank widths from 3” to 5”. As with solid flooring, standard and hand scraped engineered acacia are made. Engineered acacia has an engineered plywood base and a solid acacia wood wear layer.
Laminate Acacia flooring features a photographic applique of acacia wood fused to a wood composite base and covered with a clear, protective wear layer. It is made in thicknesses from 1/4” (7mm) to 9/16” (15mm) and a variety of plank lengths.
Several colors are available in all the acacia flooring products. Warranties are as little as 5 years for cheap acacia laminate to 50 years for solid hardwood flooring.
Leading acacia flooring brands and prices include:
- Solid hardwood flooring: TAS Flooring, Mazama and US Floors with prices from $3.00 to $8.00 per square foot. Products include standard, hand scraped and hand carved finishes.
- Engineered flooring: Jasper at Build Direct, Saso, Armstrong, LM Flooring, Green Touch and Mohawk with pricing from $2.60-$8.00 per square foot. Hand scraped and hand carved flooring is available in addition to standard finish.
- Laminate flooring: Lamton, Mohawk and Armstrong with pricing from $0.80 to $3.50 per square foot. Styles mimic solid and engineered flooring options.
ACACIA WOOD FLOORING PROS & CONS
There are hardwood flooring pros and cons for all species, and the following list will assist you in comparing acacia to the other hardwood types you’re considering.
Acacia flooring advantages:
Color variety and beauty – The large number of species used for flooring gives you an excellent selection of colors from chocolate brown through rusty reds to off-whites and golden yellows, all with acacia’s distinctive grain patterns and textures. However, note the acacia flooring problems below for more information about color variation.
Options – This flooring is produced in solid, engineered and laminate in a variety of plank widths and detail choices such as popular hand scraped and hand carved finishes.
Durability and wear – Acacia is harder than oak and maple and provides many years of dependable wear before refinishing or replacing is required (see Durability & Hardness below for more details).
Easy maintenance and low costs – Acacia flooring is easily maintained with sweeping or just-damp mopping, so the floor won’t trap allergens and dirt like carpet does, and no special cleaners are required.
Cost – Most acacia flooring is moderately priced which, combined with its durability and low maintenance requirements, produces outstanding cost value over the lifetime of the floor.
Resistance to water and mold – The wood is naturally resistant to moisture and can be installed above and at grade (all types) and below grade (engineered) too
Sustainability and Eco-friendliness – This is a green flooring choice because acacia grows quickly, harvesting is managed in most areas, production requires fewer emissions than many flooring choices and the wood is recyclable and reusable.
Versatile installation – Installation options vary by manufacturer and product but include nailing, gluing and floating the material.
Acacia flooring disadvantages:
Short plank lengths – Because acacia plants used in flooring are usually shrubs or short trees, long planks are not possible.
Knots, stains, variations and defects – While you might enjoy the rustic and varied character of acacia, some prefer wood flooring that is “cleaner” and more consistent. Because it is so distinctive, it is also therefore a very personal choice which will not appeal to everyone – so it could be a negative factor when/if you come to sell your home.
Possible shrinkage – Acacia flooring problems occur when the wood hasn’t been properly kiln dried and in very dry homes.
Expense – This is a pro and a con because acacia costs less than many exotic wood species but is still costlier than most carpet and sheet vinyl flooring.
See Acacia Flooring Problems below for more information on what can go wrong with this material.
ACACIA WOOD DURABILITY (HARDNESS)
One of the reasons to consider acacia hardwood flooring is its hardness. The Janka Hardness Rating for small leaf acacia is 2220 and for large leaf acacia is 1700, so the wood is harder than popular species like hard maple (1450), white oak (1360) and red oak (1290), though not as hard as exotic woods such as African cedar (2600) and Brazilian walnut/ipe (3670).
The hardness of acacia wood offers two significant benefits. First, it wears well, so is very durable. With proper care, solid acacia hardwood flooring will last 50-100 years depending on its thickness. It can be refinished multiple times over its lifetime and look like new each time.
Secondly, acacia’s hardness makes it less susceptible than softer woods to dents, gouges, scratches and other damage. It is a good choice for families with pets, active kids and their toys and anywhere very heavy furniture will be used. Acacia is popular in commercial settings, though warranties are shorter than when used in residential application.
Read about other durable flooring options.
FURTHER ACACIA FLOORING CONSIDERATIONS
We’ve mentioned potential acacia flooring problems that you should consider before selecting it for your home or business. Here are more details.
- Plank lengths are just one to four feet due to the limited height of acacia shrubs and trees. Each case of acacia flooring will contain planks of various lengths, but the average might be less than two feet. Compare that with the industry standard length of 3.5 feet. Consider a room 20 feet long. Each row will likely have eight to twelve seams when acacia is installed versus just five or six with most other hardwood species.
- Color variation in acacia wood is more extreme than with most hardwoods. As a result, your installed flooring will likely show more colors than the flooring sample you used to make your selection. For example, if you choose a sample that is rusty brown, that color will dominate, but each plank might also show deep brown, golden tans or off-white hues from combining both heartwood (darker) and sapwood (lighter).
- Knots and small defects are more prevalent in wood produced from short, shrubby trees because of shorter trunks and branches that are often twisted. Getting long runs of clean acacia isn’t possible. To harvest any usable timber from acacia, wood with knots, mineral stains, noticeable color variation and other blemishes must be included.
- Acacia is prone to buckling when not properly dried or acclimated and in very arid conditions. This wood is actually quite stable, not typically prone to these issues. However, when acacia isn’t dried to about 6% to 8% moisture content, it might continue to dry out in your home. When it dries, it shrinks; when it shrinks, planks will separate and buckle depending on the installation method. Either way, the results will be calamitous for the floor. The same result occurs when the wood isn’t given at least five days in the house before installation to acclimate to the home’s humidity level. Finally, desert homes and homes where a forced-air furnace runs without a humidifier become extremely dry. This creates a significant threat of shrinkage for any hardwood, but acacia is more susceptible than most. Therefore it is essential that this potential problem accounted for by opting for one or more of these solutions:
- Choose flooring dried to 6% to 8% humidity, often requiring two passes through the kiln
- Allow the wood to acclimate in your home in open boxes for at least five days
- Maintain a humidity level in your home of at least 35% but not higher than 55% at which point the acacia might take on moisture and expand, causing a new set of problems
The first three acacia floor problems might not be a concern to you. The thousands of homeowners that have made acacia a trending home flooring material view them as part of the uniquely appealing appearance of this beautiful wood. The final issue with acacia flooring is overcome with the solutions provided. In short, if you love its rich and varied beauty, the potential acacia problems shouldn’t stop you from putting it on your short list of possible flooring materials.
WHERE CAN YOU BUY ACACIA WOOD FLOORING
You will find a selection of acacia plank flooring at the big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, however the flooring will be enginerred hardwood with a thin veneer of acacia rather than solid acacia planks.
ACACIA FLOORING ALTERNATIVES
If you’re desperate for the look of acacia wood flooring but either can’t find the material near you or at a price you can afford then don’t despair. There are some great alternatives to consider:
ACACIA LAMINATE FLOORING
Laminate flooring is a budget friendly and increasingly stylish way to get a wood look floor installed in your home. Big laminate brands like Pergo XP and Quick Step produce laminate with an acacia finish which you can purchase at Lowe’s and Home Depot.
ACACIA VINYL PLANK FLOORING
And not to be outdone by laminate, there is a broad range of luxury wood look acacia vinyl plank flooring to consider. Again Home Depot is a low cost retailer selling acacia vinyl by popular brands like Cali and we’ve seen some classy acacia vinyl plank by Nucore being sold at Floor & Decor. Also take a look at Mannington Adura Flex who have an acacia LVP.
ACACIA WOOD VS TEAK WOOD FLOORING
Homeowners interested in installing an exotic hardwood floor like acacia often consider another Asian hardwood, teak flooring. Let’s take a quick look at the similarities and differences between these two exotic hardwood floors.
ACACIA AND TEAK SIMILARITIES
Both exotic hardwoods: Although some acacia trees grow in North America the majority of acacia flooring is imported from Africa and Asia. Similarly teak flooring comes from Asia, almost exclusively now from Myanmar (Burma).
Both are hard woods: Both these hardwoods score high on the Janka hardness test making them very durable and dent resistant.
Both have a distinct look: As we’ll discuss, both teak and acaica look very different, but they both have a striking appearance and are typically used to make a statement!
ACACIA AND TEAK DIFFERENCES
Teak is much more expensive than acacia: Both hardwoods, by the very nature of being exotic, are premium floors and more expensive than domestic brands, but teak is especially difficult to get hold of and only sustainably produced in Myanmar which is under US political sanctions.
Very different in appearance and texture: Acacia is knows for its dramatic wood grain pattern while teak, although also know for it’s beautiful patterning, is typically more subdued than Acacia and also darker in tone.
Conclusion: You’ll be lucky if you can even get your hands on genuine teak wood flooring compared to acacia. If you want a teak look alike then maybe consider cumaru, a species of wood given the nickname Brazilian Teak.
IS ACACIA WOOD SUSTAINABLE?
Acacia wood is sustainable because it is grown in many regions and is a fast growing tree that can be easily replanted quickly. However, as an exotic wood that has to be transported into the US it doesn’t have the best carbon footprint. Look for acacia wood with sustainable certification for organisations like the FSC and PEFC.
HOW HARD & DURABLE IS ACACIA?
Acacia wood is extremely hard and very dense, making it super durable. Different species of acacia score between 1700 and 2220 on the Janka hardness scale, which measures a woods resistance to denting and wear.
HOW DO YOU CLEAN ACACIA WOOD?
You should clean acacia wood flooring the same way you would clean any hardwood floor. Clear away surface dust and dirt. Use a slightly damp more to clean the surface if necessary and leave to dry. Use a hardwood floor cleaning spray with a microfiber mop to shine your floor.
IS ACACIA WOOD WATERPROOF
Acacia wood flooring is NOT waterproof and care should be taken to avoid moisture as you would with any hardwood flooring. Acacia wood has a higher concentration of natural oils within it that does make it more water-resistance than any other species.
HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE ACACIA?
Phonetically, acacia is pronounced uh·kay·shuh
CAN YOU STAIN ACACIA WOOD?
You can stain acacia wood, the question is would you want to? Acacia has such a rich and striking appearance naturally that staining your acacia flooring seems unnecessary.
ACACIA WOOD FLOORING PICTURES
About the Author: Jamie Sandford
Jamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction, followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business, he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.
“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”