Many people are floored when they come across acacia wood. (Pun intended.) This type of flooring has a distinctive appeal. It’s a departure in appearance from oak and maple, two traditional hardwoods with a classic appearance. Acacia’s grain pattern is highly variable, with contrasting swirls and knots in shades of amber, honey and wine.
Sometimes referred to as Asian walnut, acacia is one of the hardest woods used in flooring. It resists scratches and damage better than hickory, maple and oak. Its density makes it incredibly water repellant, and it polishes to a beautiful shen.
It sounds too good to be true. But, like everything, acacia wood has its disadvantages. It might not be your best choice for the following reasons.
It Has an Extremely Busy Appearance
There are more than 1,000 species of acacia tree. The different types of trees have distinct hardness levels. They also bring a lot of variety into the mix. Some species are almost as light as pine, while others have chocolate-colored waves and gold undertones.
If your jaw drops when you see an impressive acacia floor and you want to replicate it in your home, you might have trouble replicating it without knowing the species. Moreover, the inconsistencies in the design will likely look very different in your space than someone else’s.
Here are some other disadvantages of busy flooring:
- It makes the room look smaller – In some cases, you can take advantage of a striped grain pattern to widen a narrow room, much like vertical stripes make you look taller. However, busy floors aren’t recommended for small spaces if you want to make them look more expansive. If you do want to incorporate acacia wood into a smaller area, use it as an accent. It would look excellent in a sunroom, foyer or living room if the rest of the house had neutral flooring.
- It can make your room look cluttered – This floor is the conversation starter. The rest of your decor should complement the acacia without competing with it. If you have too much variation in the patterns around the room without giving the eye a chance to rest, you might feel as though your atmosphere is always chaotic.
- It doesn’t appeal to everyone – Although some people love the look of extremely variegated flooring, others prefer a more uniform look. On one hand, expensive flooring can improve the resale value of your home. On the other hand, buyers who are looking for a simpler aesthetic may move on.
The Planks are Short
Unless you are using engineered hardwood or laminate with an acacia wood design, you won’t find long planks. The acacia plant is a tree-like shrub. The trunk is often short, and the undulating branches spread out horizontally. This plant doesn’t give manufacturers much room for cutting long, interrupted lengths.
Therefore, it typically comes in planks that are only two to four feet long. While short planks are convenient to handle and transport, they take longer to install.
Moreover, short planks can make your room look small. Some people prefer long boards for hardwood flooring so that they can expand the illusion of depth in the room.
When several short planks are installed adjacent to one another, they showcase the grain pattern variation between the boards. One long plank will always look more uniform than many short planks. If you’re trying to minimize the disparities in your floor design, you might not like the way that acacia’s short planks come together.
It’s Prone to Shrinkage and Buckling
It’s hard to imagine that a wood this hard would ever lose its straight, smooth profile. But acacia wood is susceptible to buckling. This is one of the acacia flooring problems that can make your floors look uneven and wavy. Acacia flooring can also shrink, leading to gaps between the planks.
Buckling and shrinking are problematic for a number of reasons. They can:
- Increase the risk of trips and falls
- Attract moisture beneath them
- Create spaces for dirt and debris to settle, causing abrasion and damage
- Be difficult to clean
Acacia wood is more likely to warp if it hasn’t been dried properly during the manufacturing process. The fresh wood must be heated in a kiln until its moisture content is between 6% and 8%.
Before installing them, you should acclimate the planks to your interior environment. Let them sit in the room in which they’ll end up for several days before attaching them to your floors. This gives them space and time to expand or contract as they get used to their final resting place. If you skip this step, the expansion and contraction may leave gaps around the planks and the borders of the room.
Acacia wood floors may not be the best option for extremely dry climates or rooms that experience a lot of temperature fluctuation. If you have this type of flooring, keep the humidity levels lower than 55%.
Acacia Flooring Is Brittle
Hard flooring has many advantages when it comes to durability. However, it can be difficult to work with. It’s harder to cut than softer flooring materials. It’s also prone to cracking and splintering.
Acacia wood doesn’t contain as many natural oils as some other hardwoods. Unsealed acacia can dry out quickly in certain environments. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for sealing your floors. Keep it out of direct sunlight to prevent the material from drying out.
Some Scratches Are Difficult to Hide
Even though acacia is a durable, resilient wood, it can get damaged if it’s mistreated. Grooves that follow the wood grain blend into the design. However, scratches that cross the grain disrupt the undulating lines that make the wood look so beautiful. They can be hard to disguise.
Pet nails probably won’t create deep gouges in acacia wood. However, they can mar the finish and make it look dull. They may even catch the light at certain times of day and look more obvious.
The good news is that acacia hardwood can be refinished. In fact, experts recommend that you sand and replace the coating on your floors every 10 years or so.
To keep your floors looking great on a daily basis, keep them free of sand and grit. Sweep them daily, or use a dry mop. Avoid dragging heavy furniture across the floor without protection. Casters and children’s toys can mark up the floor. Put down a rug in play areas, and consider replacing traditional casters with rubber ones.
Acacia Flooring Problems Aren’t a Disadvantage for Everyone
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. If you have reached this point and think, “I don’t understand how these acacia wood features are problematic,” then this is a flooring material that you might consider.
There are several ways to make this wood work for your space:
- Cover some areas with solid rugs.
- Don’t use busy flooring in other rooms.
- Pair it with painted cabinets and neutral stone in the kitchen.
- Complement it with vibrant or neutral upholstery with simple or no patterns.
- Use the short planks to create a basket weave or herringbone design.
- Stain it to merge some of the contrasting colors together.
These tips are especially important when you’re selling your home. Avoid turning buyers away by simplifying the rest of your decor so that the flooring gives off a peaceful vibe instead of a chaotic one.
The acacia flooring problems that have to do with its structure and maintenance are not much different than the problems with other hardwood flooring. Therefore, if you’re trying to decide between a similar material, make your selection based on your preferences. A floor that you’re proud of will bring you joy every time you enter your home.