Understanding the Janka Hardness ScaleWhen shopping for new floors for your Buckhead home, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the vast selection of hardwood products. Color, shade, texture, species, and construction are all factors that you have to consider. Additionally, you’ll also come across another hardwood specification called the Janka hardness rating. If you are unfamiliar with this rating, we’re here to help. Read on to learn more about Janka hardness.

The Janka Hardness Test

For the Janka hardness test, a .444-inch diameter steel ball is driven into a wood sample to a depth of half the ball’s diameter. The force required to do this is the final score assigned to the hardwood for its Janka hardness rating. In the U.S. the force is measured in units of pound-force (lbf), but when listed in the Janka scale, the units are generally left out.

For American ratings, a hardwood scores within the range of 0-4000. But when reading about Janka hardness online, keep in mind that other countries’ scales may vary if the force is measured in different units like kilogram-force (kgf) or newtons (N).

Janka hardness ratings of various hardwoodMaking Sense of Wood Ratings

So now that you have a better understanding of the technical aspects behind the Janka Hardness Scale, how do you make sense of all these different ratings? In the flooring industry, red oak is often used as a standard for comparison. It has a hardness of 1,290 and is considered a good option for high traffic areas, but it is also susceptible to scratching from rough wear— like if you have pets or wear high heels or sports cleats while walking on it.

Here is a brief list of Janka ratings to get a further idea of how the various hardwoods stack up:

  • American Cherry: 995
  • Walnut: 1,010
  • Birch: 1,260
  • Red Oak: 1,290
  • Maple: 1,450
  • Hickory: 1,820

The Right Applications

If you are considering a hardwood that has a lower hardness rating than red oak, don’t despair. All lumber types used in flooring have hardness ratings high enough for that application. Hardwoods on the softer end of the Janka scale will simply last longer if they are used in low traffic areas, such as a bedroom or den. Hardwood floors can also be sanded and re-stained several times throughout their lifespan, so a few scratches on the surface does not mean they need to be replaced.

We’re Here to Help

Considering both aesthetics and durability is helpful when selecting your flooring. Understanding the Janka hardness scale can help you pick the right hardwood for your Buckhead home. At Floor Coverings International Intown Atlanta, we are here to help you make sense of all the different flooring options. We even offer free, in-home design consultations; call us today!

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Photo Credit: © Zastolskiy Victor © Andrey Burmakin