Different wood species have various levels of hardness, and the Janka hardness scale is one standardized way of comparing types of wood. While the Janka wood hardness scale is not the only factor you will want to consider when choosing wood floors, it is something to think about as you select the right floor for your lifestyle and needs.
What Is the Janka Hardwood Scale?
The Janka hardwood scale was named after Gabriel Janka, who worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Lab. His scale uses a test for denting and wear to compare woods. In strictly controlled conditions, a steel ball is pushed into similar planks of wood using a heavy force. Each wood species can take a different amount of pressure before the ball becomes halfway embedded in the wood — this test is what the Janka hardwood scale is based on.
Wood hardness is measured in the amount of force (in lbf, or pounds of force) needed to push the ball into the wood. Some popular examples of Janka hardness ratings include:
- Douglas Fir: 660 lbf
- Black Cherry: 950 lbf
- Red Oak: 1,290 lbf
- American Beech: 1,300 lbf
- Hard Maple: 1,450 lbf
- Brazilian Cherry: 2,350 lbf
Is the Janka Hardwood Scale Important When I Buy Flooring?
In general, experts recommend woods have a rating of 1,000 lbf or higher to be used for flooring, but there are a few other factors to consider. First, a higher Janka hardwood scale rating is not always better. Very hard woods may be difficult to cut or work with, which could limit your flooring options and may make floors more expensive.
The Janka hardwood scale considers wood in its raw form, but wood prepared for hardwood floors may be treated and coated with special finishes to make it more resilient and stronger. Today, many processes allow you to have the look of natural wood floors without worrying as much about dents.
Finally, many wood floors today are engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood consists of layers of hardwood crisscrossed together, and this can truly make your floors more than the sum of their parts. Engineered wood flooring can sometimes be stronger than hardwood or consist of different woods with various ratings.
The Janka hardwood scale measures for indents, so it can approximate the effects of furniture, high heels and pets. However, it may not anticipate other damage. It does not consider how the wood reacts to moisture, how likely it is to crack or have flaws or how it performs in a home.
Talk to 50 Floor About Your Flooring Options
The Janka hardwood scale can be a useful piece of information when choosing your hardwood flooring, but it is not the only thing to consider. If you’re wondering which flooring may be right for you, get in touch with us to book a consultation in your home. Our professionals can answer your questions and guide you through the entire process of getting beautiful floors, right from your own residence.