Understanding Hardwoods ~ The Janka Hardness Scale

Let’s say you’re thinking of installing hardwoods. Good choice; they’re durable, attractive, and relatively easy to maintain. But, with the staggering number of wood species available…how do you decide which one is best for you and your family?

The good news is there is a tool to help you determine the most suitable type of wood for your needs. The Janka Hardness Scale measures a wood’s hardness. The scale was devised by pushing a steel ball with a diameter of 11.28 millimeters into wood to a depth of half the ball’s diameter. In this manner, the actual “hardness” of any species of wood can be determined and subsequently recorded.

So, how does this help you? If you have a room which experiences a high level of foot traffic, you will wish to ensure the wood is hard enough to withstand the continual pounding and use. A hardwood with a lower rating is unlikely to last as long or retain its original sheen than one with a higher rating on the scale.

For example, if you are planning to install hardwood flooring in a room which is immaculate with low foot traffic; a Janka rating of 800 or lower may be ideal comprised of such hardwoods as Mahogany or Sycamore. Conversely, if your floor takes a beating with high traffic, you may wish to consider Brazilian Walnut which has a hardness rating of 3684.

It’s important to determine the level of flooring hardness to decide which species of wood will work best. The Janka Hardness Scale can be an invaluable asset. Ask your local flooring retailer to share the chart prior to purchase and elaborate on the different ratings and species. This level of consultation will undoubtedly lead to the perfect floor in your home!