Why Is Koa Wood So Expensive?

The most expensive wood is Koa, but have you ever wondered why is koa so expensive?

Why Is Koa Wood So Expensive

The excessively high price of koa wood is a result of several factors. It’s used in jewelry, making weapons, furniture, and other products all over the world.

Now, without further ado, let’s understand why this wood is so extravagant.

What is Koa Wood?

What is Koa Wood

The word “Koa” means “Warrior” in Hawaiian.

It is commonly known as Acacia Koa, and is the most valuable hardwood in the world. It is only found in the Hawaiian forest providing shelter to 30 native forest bird species, and 17 of them are endangered.

This wood is known for its beautiful and vibrant color. The tree is a fast-growing tree with a height of about 100 to 115 feet.

What Are The Uses of Koa Wood?

Along with being the most expensive wood in the world, koa wood also has many uses.

  1. Koa wood can be used for making furniture, veneers, cabinetry and etc.
  2. It is a tonewood that is used for making musical instruments like guitar, ukulele, acoustic guitar, and Weissenborn style Hawaiin steel guitar.
  3. Koa wood is also an excellent option for making bowls, surfboards, rings, and jewelry items.
  4. The wood is very versatile and robust that can be used to make weapons also.

How To Identify Koa Wood?

There are primarily 3 attributes to identify koa wood- its color, grain, and origin.

Koa is typically medium golden or reddish brown to dark brown, but within the color range, there are hints of yellow, pink, red, golden, and brown.

On the other hand, the grain of koa wood is interlocked and produces a highly curly or irregular texture. There are 3 common types of koa grain- straight, curly, and figured.

Straight: The grains are primarily parallel and have little to no curls. The wood grains mostly run in only one direction.

Identify Koa Wood- Straight

Curly: The wood grains are compressed and produce perpendicular stripes. The compression creates an illusion of a three-dimensional surface which is known as chatoyancy.

This is the most desirable characteristic of koa wood.

Figured: Unlike curly, the wood grains are not perpendicular rather it is swirls and unpredictable pattern ingrained in the wood.

Identify Koa Wood- Figured

These are the attributes that define it and what make it desirable.

Reasons Why Koa Wood Is So Expensive?

Reasons Why Koa Wood So Expensive

Koa is regarded as the finest wood because of three primary reasons- its beauty, symbolic meaning, and rarity.

Koa wood can be compared to mahogany wood and because of its vibrant colors that can’t be found in any other hardwood.

Here are some reasons why Koa is so expensive:

  • Koa wood is only grown in Hawaiian islands.
  • The lifespan of koa is 50-80 years, but only a few harvesters are permitted to harvest koa wood.
  • Koa trees having an elevation of thousand of feet produce sufficient workable wood. The premium koa is milled from trees grown between 2000 and 4000 feet.
  • Exotic koa dealers sometimes capitalize on the beautiful colors and stunning patterns of the wood.
  • The Koa’s natural range is diminishing year after year due to grazing animals like castles and deer. This results in the prevention of koa regeneration.

How much does Koa Wood cost?

The price of Koa wood typically begins at approximately $40 per board foot and can increase to around $200 per board foot for exceptionally rare and large slabs.

But What Actually Makes Koa Wood So Special?

Koa wood holds a special distinction due to its distinct patterns, colors, and textures. These characteristics are determined by factors such as the tree’s age, the elevation it grows in, and the type of soil it thrives in. The color spectrum of Koa wood spans from a light golden blonde to auburn red, and even to deep chocolate brown. The grain patterns of Koa wood are wonderfully varied and unique.

Is Koa Wood the Most Expensive Wood?

Koa wood is considered one of the more expensive woods available, but it is not necessarily the most expensive wood overall. The cost of wood can vary depending on various factors, such as rarity, demand, quality, and craftsmanship. While Koa wood is highly valued for its beauty and unique properties, other types of wood, such as ebony or rosewood, can be even more expensive due to their scarcity or specialized uses.

Acacia Vs. Koa Wood- Are They Similar?

People often get confused between Acaia and koa wood; however, they are two different categories of wood.

Acacia trees are found all over the world but on the contrary, koa wood is only found in Hawaii, which makes it a rare wood and hence an expensive one.

Here is the difference between the two varieties of wood:

DifferenceKoa woodAcacia wood
Common nameKoa, Hawaiian koaAcacia, wattle
Wood colorMedium golden or reddish brownWarm brown color with darker streaks
HardnessKoa is softer as compared to other hardwoods. Acacia is harder than Koa
DurabilityModerate durable and strongStronger and more durable than Koa
Water-resistantIt is 10 ATM water resistant. This makes it more resistant Acacia wood is less resistant than koa wood

Is Koa Worth It?

There are many alternatives of koa that you can use for your projects, such as black walnut and mahogany.

For musical instruments also, there are cheaper options that have the same density and workability.

However, it depends on how you measure it and what you want it for because there is no substitute for the real thing.


Koa is a beautiful and finest wood in the world. There’s no denying how rare and expensive it is, but it is worth the value.

However, there are many substitutes for wood, like black walnut, mahogany, and acacia. Acacia is a way cheaper option for beautiful koa wood.


Is Koa Wood Toxic?

Most hardwoods cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. However, no such health issues have been reported with koa wood.

But if you are working with wood dust, then it can be harmful to your health.

How long does it takes for koa to mature?

The koa tree takes 30 years to grow fully. They grow even faster when they are grown in their comfort zone, which is at an elevation between 2000 to 4000 feet above sea level.

What is the most expensive Hawaiian wood?

Koa is considered the most expensive wood in the world. Curly-koa, with its dark brown color, might be the most expensive wood on the planet.

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