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What Is the Janka Hardness of Wood Flooring?

Posted: Friday, August 02, 2013

Janka HardnessTestJanka…instant coffee with a Java twist? No, Janka refers to the testing hardwood flooring goes through to determine how hard it actually is. The math involved in these calculation is pretty complicated — we'd have to tap into your calculus and physics if you have the time and inclination to see precisely how the math works, but suffice to say, this is an important number that is procured by professionals in the industry.

While we may not understand the math behind the number, we can at least use the results to help us evaluate our needs. You can easily find several Janka rating charts on the Internet, and we discuss it on our blog when talking about the different exotic wood flooring lines we carry.

When determining what kind of hardwood floor is best for your space, be it residential, light or heavy commercial, or retail, it's very important to know how "hard" the wood is so you have a better perspective on how much abuse a wood floor can take and still stay beautiful.

The test is administered by shooting a steel ball into a plank of the wood halfway to the ball's diameter. Measured in pounds of force per square inch, the results reflect the relative hardness of the wood. The higher the number, the harder the wood. The harder the wood, the more resistant to denting and scratching.

The flip side of this resistance can affect your installation and can make it quite a bit more challenging. So for longevity, hard is great, but if you go through a dozen saw blades and break off every other nail as it is installed, then that's something to consider. You'll want to get some professional assistance if you go with the hardest of the hard species to save yourself time and probably some frustration. Then of course, if you select too soft a wood, it won't withstand the pounding of life and business.

So if you have pets and have a hard time keeping those claws trimmed or you have children who like to attempt things like skateboarding in the dining room or even if you just want have that added protection, then go with the hardest wood flooring your budget will allow.

And that's one other caveat of the Janka test. Typically, the higher the score, also higher the price. Brazilian Walnut and Brazilian Teak, for example, which can both be found through our many excellent suppliers, rank very high on the Janka system, but the cost of flooring made from these species will be significantly higher than for something like White Oak or Maple. But if it's in the budget, you can't do better.

For a complete listing of Janka scores see go to Janka Hardness Ratings.