When it comes to premium woods, Mahogany has been a highly regarded material for over 300 years stateside. This kind of wood is a deep, rich, coppery red that makes for furniture, flooring and stair parts of unparalleled elegance. It's especially well regarded because it can be cut into huge planks - perfect for long handrails and wide treads. This also allows for more consistency in tables and chests as multiple planks don't need to be combined over a single plane.
The kind of Mahogany that was first popular stateside was the South American variety you'll find in most antique furniture. However, these trees, which are found throughout the rainforests of South Africa, especially in Honduras and Cuba, are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), making them a scarcer commodity to come by.
This is why many woodworkers turn to African Mahogany today to get the same look from a more renewable source. The premier variety of African Mahogany is Sapele, which comes from a large species of tree that is very similar to South American Mahogany. It is very even in color and grain and is relatively easy for craftsmen to work with, not to mention it comes in equally expansive planks. There are several varieties of African Mahogany, including a species called Khaya, that can be found on the American market. However, Sapele is the denser variety of the two woods and therefore the preferred material for stair builders. It also resembles South American mahogany much more than Khaya, which has a lighter tonality and very noticeable striping in the thick veins of each plank.
Stair Parts USA offers Sapele Mahogany handrails, newels, balusters, treads and risers that will give the look of an antique stairway with the quality only afforded by modern stair builders.
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