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Can You Refinish Brazilian Cherry Floors?

Richard Hoyt

Brazilian cherry (Hymenaea courbaril) also called jatoba, is no more difficult to refinish than most hardwoods and is much easier than maple. However, it is a harder than red oak or white oak, so you may need extra sandpaper and patience.

Brazilian Cherry Hardness

The hardness of woods is measured on the Janka hardness scale. The Janka test measures the force required to fire a 0.444-inch steel ball half of the ball’s diameter into wood. Red oak has a Janka rating of 1260. Brazilian hardwood rates 2820 on the Janka scale, which is why sanding and refinishing it requires more work and sandpaper.


Brazilian cherry gets darker as it ages, so you shouldn’t to use stain to match a newly refinished floor with part of the floor that has already aged. If you want your entire floor to look the same, you have to refinish it all.

Preliminary Sanding

Other than added sandpaper and more laborious sanding, there are no extraordinary steps you have take to refinish Brazilian cherry. Use a drum or belt sander and make sure you have a good dust mask. Vacuum the floor and sand it with 40-grit sandpaper. Sand it twice more, once with 40-grit paper and once with 80-grit paper. Reset the nails and vacuum the floor; use a large spatula to apply wood filler to the holes where you reset the nails. Use 100-grit paper to sand the filler and the edges of the floor.

Final Sanding

Sand with 180-grit paper, vacuum, sand with 180-grit paper and vacuum again and then apply two coats of hardwood sealer or varnish, following manufacturer’s direction.