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How to Update Brazilian Cherry Hardwood Floors

Remember those glossy Brazilian cherry floors that were so prevalent in the early 2000s? They might even be in your own home, staring at you right now and whispering about all those Von Dutch hats and wedge flip flops that still lurk in the back of your closet. (We actually still remember the lyrics to one of Avril Levigne's songs. We won't tell if you don't.)

Image via Build Direct

While we can't help you with your worn out wardrobe, your hardwood floors are a different story. As hardwood floor trends have moved toward more subtle, natural tones, the glossy maraschino-like Brazilian cherry of yesteryear no longer impresses like it once did. But don't lose hope and rip it all out! All is not lost.

Brazilian cherry (real name: Jatoba) has an intense red tone compared to most other wood, especially when combined with the glossy finishes favored about 20 years ago. So how do we turn outdated red-toned Brazilian cherry into a more timeless floor that won't scream of your past mistakes?

Refinishing Brazilian cherry floors involves the same process as refinishing any other hardwood floor. We sand down the wood several times, leaving us with perfectly smooth raw wood. Brazilian cherry is actually a beautiful wood in and of itself and can work in almost any home, but how it's finished can dramatically alter its look.

We use several methods to update Brazilian cherry floors, all of which contribute to a more subtle, classic design. We recommend stains that contain quite a bit of green pigment, which includes many medium and darker brown tones. The green is not identifiable to the naked eye, but it negates some of the red tone within the wood, delivering a more neutral toned floor. One of our customers in Nashville a few weeks ago wanted her Brazilian cherry floors to go from red to a brown tone. They started out looking like this:

Brazilian Cherry Floor

And when we finished they looked like this:

(For the record, she was so happy we got hugs when she saw them for the first time.)

The other element that plays an important role in updating Brazilian cherry floors comes in the finish, or topcoat, itself. Glossy finishes scream over-the-top and outdated, especially when paired with Brazilian cherry. Matte and satin finishes will never go out of style, they provide a more subtle look, and they hide scratches much better, to boot!

The other method to updating Brazilian cherry is to bleach it, which removes some of the red tone and leaves the floor looking more like teak. Again, the topcoat used will be important in achieving a more livable, enduring look.

Here is a series of photos showing a Brazilian cherry hardwood floor we refinished in a Brentwood, TN home. The first photo shows the floor after it had been sanded and bleached:

This photo shows the same Brazilian cherry floor, bleached and being stained Antique Brown...

And finally, we end here. It's the same Brazilian cherry floor (in a different room), bleached and stained with a satin finish. The homeowners loved how the refinished hardwoods turned out, and so do we. The variation in the wood is still visible, but its beauty isn't covered up by a blindingly shiny red glaze. Instead, these Brazilian cherry beauties are warm and classic and are ready to last a lifetime.

If you live in Brentwood, Nashville, or the surrounding areas and have questions about updating Brazilian cherry floors (or sanding and finishing any type of hardwood floor) please call us at 615-416-9039 or email We're always here to help!

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