What is TigerWood? | TigerDeck

What is TigerWood?

 Tiger Deck tigerwood

Tigerwood is a marketing name.

Prior to the founding of Tiger Deck LLC in 2001, Tigerwood was used as a marketing name for either Hawaiian Koa (Cites listed) or African Lovoa Trichilioides (Cites listed), see pictures.

Tiger Deck uses a very common specie that grows from Southern Mexico to Argentina, Astronium Spp. The success of Tiger Deck quickly motivated importers to buy the specie to sell in the USA. Some importer decided to call this specie Tigerwood and the name has stuck.

Prior to being called Tigerwood, Astronium had been used in the US for many years in cabinetry and most famously by Smith and Wesson for their highest quality hand gun grips but used the Mexican local name for the specie, Goncallo Alves.

Hawaiian Koa
African Lovoa

Local names

I have counted 21 local names for Astronium Spp., which is in the Cashew family and has 5 sub-specie which have all been used by Tiger Deck as they share the vital characteristics for use as an exterior deck board of an oily, resinous cell structure and very resistant to mold, fungus and insects. In Belize, Tigerwood is known as Jobillo; in Brazil, it is Muiracatiara; in Bolivia, it is Cuta Tigre; and so on with many ‘colorful’ names. A similar and comparable excellent exterior hardwood decking material is Ipe (Hanthroanthus Spp. formerly in Tabebuia genus). Ipe and Tigerwood share the traits of an excellent exterior use in service specie but Ipe is a slow growing “climax” or old growth type, slow growing with very thick cell walls. It is very difficult to kiln dry and if air dried, is a very stable exterior deck board.


Astronium Spp (Tigerwood) was not historically used for exterior uses because it MUST be kiln dried correctly to be stable. The kiln drying requirement is caused by the nature of the tree. It is a “pioneer” specie to foresters. A pioneer it is one of the first specie to germinate after fires, wind storms or slash and burn agriculture opens the forest floor to sunlight. Tigerwood is very fast growing and short-lived specie, living only about 80-100 years. This speed of growth is reflected in large cells and relatively wide average ring count of 5 rings per inch. This in turn can cause somewhat thin/fragile cell walls which will come apart, causing warp, cupping and spits when exposed to the wide climate changes of heat/cold and wet/dry that occur in North America. Careful Kiln Drying “sets” the resin in cell walls of many cells and pulls most of the free water out of the wood. In combination with the heavy “oil” content of Tigerwood, drying stabilizes the wood. Once carefully kiln dried Tigerwood is very stable and does not shrink, expand and ‘move’ much in service as a deck board. All Tiger Deck products are carefully kiln dried.