Home » Flooring » Santos Mahogany vs Brazilian Cherry – Which Is More Valuable?
Santos Mahogany vs Brazilian Cherry - Which Is More Valuable?

Santos Mahogany vs Brazilian Cherry – Which Is More Valuable?

by Dylan Johnson

When considering Santos Mahogany vs Brazilian Cherry for hardwood flooring, one faces the challenge of deciphering which wood will best suit their home’s aesthetic and functional needs.

With both options offering a unique combination of durability and beauty, the decision is far from straightforward. A hardwood floor is not merely a surface to walk on; it’s a long-term investment into the comfort and value of one’s living space.

We aim to provide a clear comparison of these two prestigious materials, examining the core aspects that set them apart.

By previewing the key factors such as origin, hardness, and color stability, our comparison promises to equip readers with the necessary information to make an informed choice.

Quick Compare

FeatureSantos MahoganyBrazilian Cherry
OriginSouthern Mexico, Central and South AmericaCentral America, Southern Mexico, Northern South America, West Indies
DurabilityDurable, rot-resistantExtremely durable, good rot and insect resistance
Janka Hardness2,400 lbf2,690 lbf
Average Dried Weight57 lbs/ft³56 lbs/ft³
ColorDark purple or burgundyReddish-brown to orange-brown
Common UsesFlooring, furniture, heavy construction, interior trimFlooring, furniture, cabinetry, tool handles, shipbuilding, railroad ties, turned objects
WorkabilityFair to poor; blunts toolsFair to poor; blunts tools
Rot ResistanceDurable but susceptible to insect attackExcellent; resistant to termites and insects
PricingRare and expensivePremium and expensive
Scientific NameMyroxylon balsamumHymenaea courbaril
Density58 lbs/ft³56 lbs/ft³
Allergies/ToxicityCan cause skin and respiratory irritationCan cause skin and respiratory irritation
Grain PatternStraighter grain patternInterlocked grain pattern
Popularity/Color StabilitySecond most popular; stabilizes in color after 3 monthsMost popular; extreme color variation, darkens over time

Origin and Physical Characteristics

A discerning eye can appreciate the distinct origins and features of Santos Mahogany vs Brazilian Cherry.

Geographic Origins and Natural Habitat

Santos Mahogany hails primarily from the rainforests of Central and South America.

Its presence is notable in countries such as Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia. Brazilian Cherry, on the other hand, is predominantly sourced from Brazilian plantations, although it is also found in parts of Central America and the Caribbean.

The natural habitats of these trees are crucial to their characteristics. Santos Mahogany flourishes in the rich, moist soils of rainforests, while Brazilian Cherry often grows in drier climates.

This difference in growing conditions contributes to the variances in color, grain, and texture between the two woods.

Physical Attributes Comparison

The physical attributes of both woods are striking, yet there are noticeable differences.

Santos Mahogany typically exhibits a darker, reddish-brown color that deepens over time. In contrast, Brazilian Cherry is known for its vibrant reddish hues with a golden luster.

AttributeSantos MahoganyBrazilian Cherry
ColorDark reddish-brownVibrant reddish with golden highlights
GrainFine, interlockingCoarse and often straight

Read Also: Surface Bonding Cement vs Stucco – A Clear Winner?

Durability and Resistance Features

In terms of durability, both woods stand out, but with variances that matter.

Santos Mahogany possesses a high natural resistance to decay, mold, and insect damage, making it a robust choice for flooring. Brazilian Cherry is also durable but may require more maintenance to prevent damage from pests or moisture.

  • Santos Mahogany:
    • Janka Hardness Rating: 2200
    • Decay Resistance: High
    • Maintenance: Low
  • Brazilian Cherry:
    • Janka Hardness Rating: 2350
    • Decay Resistance: Moderate to High
    • Maintenance: Moderate

Differences in Weight and Density

Weight and density are indicative of a wood’s hardness and longevity. Santos Mahogany generally has a density of 53 lbs/ft³, while Brazilian Cherry can be slightly denser at around 57 lbs/ft³.

The higher density of Brazilian Cherry translates to potentially more resistance to wear and tear, a factor to consider for high-traffic areas.

Important Note: While both woods are sought after for their remarkable qualities, preferences in weight and density should align with the specific needs of the installation environment.

Aesthetic and Practical Uses

Both Santos Mahogany and Brazilian Cherry offer unique aesthetic appeals and versatile practical uses.

Color Variations and Changes Over Time

The lustrous hues of Santos Mahogany and Brazilian Cherry woods are not static; they evolve with time.

Santos Mahogany tends to darken to a rich burgundy, enhancing its sophisticated look. Conversely, Brazilian Cherry undergoes a more dramatic transformation, its colors deepening significantly to reveal a burnished red-brown tone.

Initial ColorColor Over Time
Santos Mahogany: Lighter Reddish-BrownDarkens to Rich Burgundy
Brazilian Cherry: Bright Red with Gold TonesDeepens to Red-Brown

This natural color progression is an important consideration for buyers, as it influences the future ambiance of any space these woods adorn.

Suitability for Flooring, Furniture, and Other Uses

Both woods are highly esteemed in various applications due to their durability and beauty.

Santos Mahogany, with its interlocking grain, is particularly revered for high-end flooring and fine furniture. Brazilian Cherry’s resilience makes it suitable for both residential and commercial flooring, as well as decorative paneling.

  • Santos Mahogany – Ideal for:
    • Luxury flooring
    • Furniture
    • Decorative veneers
  • Brazilian Cherry – Commonly used for:
    • High-traffic flooring
    • Staircases
    • Cabinet making

Workability with Tools and Machinery

Working with hardwood requires consideration of its compatibility with tools and machinery.

Santos Mahogany can be somewhat challenging due to its density but is well worth the effort for its smooth finish. Brazilian Cherry is also hard on cutting tools and requires sharp blades for a clean cut.

Important Note: Careful handling and experienced craftsmanship are vital when working with these hardwoods to preserve their integrity and appearance.

Unique Characteristics in Grain and Texture

The grain and texture of these woods are distinct and offer different visual appeals.

Santos Mahogany presents a fine grain that is often interlocked, offering a smooth, even texture. Brazilian Cherry, however, showcases a more pronounced grain pattern, which adds to its rustic charm.

Wood TypeGrainTexture
Santos MahoganyFine and InterlockingSmooth and Uniform
Brazilian CherryPronounced and VariedCoarser to the Touch

These characteristics play a significant role in the selection process, as they impact the overall look and feel of the finished product.

Key Differences Between Santos Mahogany and Brazilian Cherry

Evaluating Santos Mahogany vs Brazilian Cherry involves more than appreciating their beauty; it’s about understanding their distinct properties.

Analysis of Janka Hardness and What It Means

The Janka hardness test measures the resistance of wood to wear and denting, providing a clear picture of durability.

Wood TypeJanka Hardness Rating
Santos Mahogany2,200 lbf (pounds-force)
Brazilian Cherry2,350 lbf

Brazilian Cherry edges out Santos Mahogany slightly in this test, indicating a marginally higher resistance to denting and wear, which could influence a decision for areas with high foot traffic.

Rot and Insect Resistance Comparison

Durability also encompasses the wood’s ability to resist rot and insects, essential for long-term integrity.

  • Santos Mahogany – Offers excellent natural resistance to rot and insects, making it a reliable choice for areas prone to such issues.
  • Brazilian Cherry – While also resistant, it may require additional treatment in certain environments to enhance its durability against these natural foes.

Longevity and Color Stability in Different Environments

These woods respond differently to environmental conditions, affecting their longevity and color stability.

Note: Both woods have good stability, but fluctuations in moisture levels can cause more significant changes in Brazilian Cherry, potentially leading to warping or color alterations.

Allergenic and Toxicity Considerations

Allergenic reactions and toxicity levels are crucial, particularly for indoor use where air quality is a concern.

  • Santos Mahogany – It has a lower potential for causing allergenic reactions and is considered to have minimal toxicity.
  • Brazilian Cherry – Although it is not highly toxic, there have been more reports of allergenic reactions to this wood species.

These differences are fundamental in deciding which wood to use, especially in environments such as homes, schools, and healthcare facilities where health considerations are paramount.

Which Wood is Superior for Your Needs?

Selecting the right wood requires careful consideration of several critical factors.

Comparing Cost and Availability

Cost and availability are often decisive factors in material selection:

Wood TypeCostAvailability
Santos MahoganyHigherLess Common
Brazilian CherryLowerMore Common

While Santos Mahogany tends to be pricier and less commonly found, Brazilian Cherry is more readily available and budget-friendly, which could influence your decision if cost or immediate availability is a significant concern.

Assessing Workability Challenges

Understanding how these woods respond to workmanship is vital:

  • Santos Mahogany – Can be more challenging to cut and shape due to its density but holds detailing well.
  • Brazilian Cherry – Easier to machine, though its interlocking grain may require sharp tools and patient technique.

Important Note: Professionals are recommended when working with either wood to ensure the highest quality of craftsmanship.

Matching Wood Type to Project Requirements

Matching the wood to the intended use is key:

  1. High-traffic areas benefit from the hardness of Brazilian Cherry.
  2. Humid environments may call for the stability of Santos Mahogany.
  3. For intricate woodworking, the workability of Brazilian Cherry may be preferable.

Final Thoughts on Making an Informed Choice

Our final thoughts focus on aligning your choice with your specific needs:

  • Consider the balance between aesthetics and functionality.
  • Factor in the long-term maintenance and durability.
  • Reflect on the environmental conditions the wood will face.

Weighing these considerations carefully will guide you to the superior choice for your unique situation, ensuring satisfaction with your project’s longevity and appearance.

Read Also: Floor Muffler vs Quiet Walk? Solid Choice for Serenity


We have outlined the distinctive features and benefits of Santos Mahogany vs Brazilian Cherry. Each wood offers unique advantages and may serve different preferences and requirements.

We recommend careful consideration of their characteristics, from durability to aesthetics, when making your choice.

Ultimately, the decision should align with your specific needs, ensuring the material you select enhances the quality and functionality of your space.

The right choice will bring lasting satisfaction and value to your environment.