Hardwood floor hardness refers to how likely a wood species is to dent. Measured on a wood floor hardness scale, wood species range from softwoods like white pine to very hard wood species, such as Brazilian Walnut. Where a wood species lands on the hardwood flooring hardness scale depends on the Janka measurement. It is determined by dropping a ball on a sample of the wood species until it dents.
Many people assume that floors made from harder wood species are always better, but this is not always the case. A number of things influence your floor’s durability, including the floor’s finish. The finish adds a waterproof barrier between you and the wood, offering some protection. It cannot make a softwood species harder, however.
Your hardwood floor hardness will also depend on the wood species you choose. Some wood is just naturally harder than others, and manufacturers cannot change the characteristics of the species. A few factors impact why some woods are harder than others, including:
- Climate: Where trees are harvested matters — because trees form soft rings during spring and harder rings during hot summers. Trees with more and larger hard summer rings are harder. As a result, trees that come from hot climates are sometimes harder, including a number of Brazilian wood species.
- Textured wood: During a texturing process used by manufacturers, some of the softer spring rings are removed from the wood, making the wood stronger. Textured wood floors also better disguise marks when compared with untreated floors of the same wood species.
- Sawing methods: Sawing methods used in the production of hardwood floors can change the grain and the hardness of the floor.
Why Does it Matter?
Harder woods will generally not show dents and damage as quickly, which is important for some homeowners. In some cases, homeowners like seeing some imperfections because they believe it gives floors character. For them, softer woods may be ideal. In fact, you can now buy distressed flooring made from softwood species with some dents and imperfections already included!
Another reason why wood floor hardness matters is price. Softer wood species like pine are most cost-effective, while the hardest woods — such as ipê — can be more expensive. When considering the hardness of your floors, keep your budget in mind.
Most hardwood floors are rated at least 950 lbs on the Janka Scale. When choosing your flooring and species, you may want to consider a number of factors, such as:
- Traffic and use: If you have pets and multiple children as well as heavy traffic in your home, you need strong hardwoods. For lower-traffic areas, middle-of-the-road options such as birch, oak, beech and ash work well in many cases.
- Wood appearance: Harder wood species may not necessarily give you the look you want.
- Provenance: Hardwoods such as oak, walnut, ash, ebony, maple and pecan can be purchased from North America. The hardest woods are from outside the continent. If you are concerned about local purchases or sustainable woods, this may be something to think about.
Beautiful Hardwood Floors
You want beautiful floors which work with your home and your life. Hardness is only part of the equation. If you want expert help in picking the right floor for you, make an appointment for a 50 Floor in-home consultation. Our professionals can bring different floor samples to your home — so you can see the difference between different wood species.
50 Floor focuses only on floors, and we bring home solutions straight to you. We help save you money with a price match guarantee and offer exceptional service — from initial consultation through installation. From advice to ordering, we take care of it all. Explore our hardwood options today.