There’s more that goes into choosing the right wood flooring for your home or commercial space than just style, color, and price. Wood types can also vary in durability and hardiness, even after being turned into floorboards. This is an important factor to keep in mind, especially when picking out floors for high-traffic or low-traffic areas.

The Janka Hardness Test was developed as a way of measuring the hardness of wood. In terms of flooring, understanding where certain types of wood fall on this scale will help determine how prone the wood is to dents, scratches, chips, and other wear and tear.

white oak floorHow The Janka Hardness Test Works

The Janka Hardness Test, developed in the 1900s by Australian-American researcher Gabriel Janka, measures the pounds of force (lbfs) required to push a small steel ball (7/16 inches in diameter, to be exact) halfway into a sample of wood. The more force it takes, the higher the score. These scores can vary widely, from a mere 70 lbfs for Balsa wood to an astounding 5,060 lbfs for Australian Buloke wood.

Interpreting The Janka Hardness Scale Numbers

The higher a wood is on the Janka Hardness Scale, the most durable it is. It's also an indication of how difficult it is to mill and saw the wood, which can have an impact on installation. Here are some examples of where different types of wood fall on the Janka Hardness Scale:

  • Ebony – 3220 lbfs
  • Brazilian Cherry – 2350 lbfs
  • Bamboo – 1600 lbfs
  • Hard Maple – 1450 lbfs
  • White Oak – 1360 lbfs
  • Red Oak – 1290 lbfs
  • Black Walnut – 1010 lbfs
  • Teak – 1000 lbfs
  • Black Cherry – 950 lbfs
  • Pine – 790 lbfs

Choosing The Right Wood

Just because a wood scores high on the Janka Hardness Scale doesn't mean it's better than other types of wood that score lower. However, wood hardness is something to consider when deciding what kind of floors you need for your home or business.

  • Wood With A Score Under 1000 – These woods are considered soft, meaning they are more prone to scratches, dents, and other signs of wear. That doesn't mean that you should never use these woods for your floors, but it does mean you should be sure to keep up on maintenance if you choose a softer option.
  • Wood With A Score Of 1000-2000 – Wood in this range is the most common for hardwood flooring, with the industry standard being at least 1200 lbfs. This is because it's durable, but also not difficult to install. This is why it's common to see oak, maple, and walnut floors in homes and commercial spaces.
  • Wood With A Score of 2000+ – The types of wood that score this high on the Janka Hardness Scale are extremely resistant to dents, dings, and wear, but come at a cost. During installation, these woods could require special tools and extra time. They are also more prone to snap or splinter while being installed. Still, once the installation is complete, you can be sure you have wood floors that will last a long time!

Expert Guidance

Understanding the Janka Hardness Scale is just the first step in choosing the right hardwood for your home or business. Get further guidance from our highly experienced experts at Floor Coverings International Seminole with a free consultation.

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Photo Credit: © Lukiyanova Natalia frenta, © Jodie Johnson