Koa – Total Wood Species Guide

PROS: If you want a piece of the Hawaiian Islands here it is. It’s close to walnut in appearance, and once finished it has some interesting figuring due to silicone impregnation. It has the similar weight of walnut. It is known as the Hawaiian mahogany. In other words, it is a highly regarded wood. It has beautiful brown to black streaking on a lighter brown background. Sometimes this wood can be an orangy-brown with black streaking. The streaks can sometimes be very thin or very bold. It is a unique and unusual wood floor. Once this floor is finished, it has some very striking figuring. It resists cupping and warping more than many other finished woods.

CONS: Outside the Islands it will be difficult and very expensive to obtain. It’s a bit softer than oak or walnut so treat it with care. Like other exotic woods, koa is photosensitive meaning that it will darken overtime when it is exposed to light.

TREE FACTS: Koa is a flowering tree in the pea family. It is the second most common tree species in the Hawaiian Islands and one of the region’s tallest. It only grows in Hawaii. You can’t find this tree anywhere else on Earth! The diameter of a koa can reach over 10 feet and they are salt water resistant. These characteristics make these terrific for canoe building and surfboards, two common products that Hawaiians make out of it. Because the koa tree is highly prized in Hawaii, it is actually illegal to harvest any wood from a live koa tree. Only dead trees are permitted to be taken for woodwork. The koa tree is protected and this makes it hard to obtain.