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Janka Hardness Ratings

Posted: Friday, August 02, 2013

The Janka, or “side,” hardness rating of wood is a relative measurement of its resistance to impact and wear. Therefore, the rating gives prospective flooring buyers a numerical representation of the wood’s durability. This is obviously very important for matching flooring material to its intended usage. Higher levels of foot traffic would require a more durable species and thus one with a higher Janka rating.

The Janka test basically involves measuring the amount of force, in pounds per square inch (psi), required to embed half the diameter of a 0.444-inch steel ball into the face of a wood sample. Of course, several tests are performed to find the proper amount of force, and then a series of tests are averaged to determine the rating. Technically, the average includes samples of tangential (plain-sawn) and radial (quarter-sawn) material.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, there is another point you need to keep in mind about the hardness of wood. The harder the wood, the more difficult it will be to saw or nail. Unless you have top-of-the-line equipment and a lot of wood flooring experience, you may not want to select the species with the highest Janka rating.

To give you a comparison between a popular domestic and a popular exotic hardwood, let’s look at Northern red oak and Jatoba (aka Brazilian cherry). If you have ever worked with red oak, then you are familiar with how it cuts and nails. Its Janka rating is 1290. Jatoba, on the other hand, has a Janka rating of 2820 – that’s 119% harder!

If we compare the Northern red oak with Southern yellow pine, we see a different extreme. The short leaf variety of Southern yellow pine has a Janka rating of 690, making it 47% softer than Northern red oak. Though the pine would be easier to work with, it does have its drawbacks. Being softer, it will certainly dent much easier and possibly scratch easier, depending on the finish. All it takes is one step from a shoe with a pebble stuck in the sole, or a step with a spike high heel, and you have instant floor damage.

Although all of the hardwood products on have their Janka rating listed, we thought it would be convenient for our visitors to have a comparative reference. So we put together the following list of the most popular wood species to help you with your selection.

Species   Durability - Janka
Brazilian Walnut   3680
Brazilian Teak   3540
Tiete Rosewood   3280
Rosewood   3170
Lapacho   3060
African Pearwood   2990
Amendoim   2947
Ironwood   2890
Brazilian Cherry   2820
Jatoba   2760
Spotted Gum   2473
Cabreuva   2320
Santos Mahogany   2200
Tiger Wood   2160
Sucupira   2140
Purple Heart   2090
Asian Pine   2048
Pradoo   2040
Sydney Blue   2025
African Rosewood   1980
Pyinkado   1950
Merbau   1925
Jarrah   1910
Hickory   1820
Hickory Pecan   1820
Pecan   1820
Afzelia   1770
Doussie   1770
African Oak   1725
Padauk   1725
Kempas   1710
Brazilian Hickory   1654
Balau   1640
Thatch   1640
African Wenge   1630
Peroba   1600
Timborana   1570
African Sapele   1500
Brazilian Maple   1500
Maple   1450
Australian Cypress   1375
Oak   1360
White Oak   1360
Red Oak   1360
Ash   1320
Beech   1300
African Walnut   1290
Angelique   1290
Birch   1260
Iroko   1260
Kambala   1260
Yellow Birch   1260
Nyatoh   1195
Teak   1155
Tiete Chestnut   1155
Brazilian Eucalyptus   1125
Curupixa   1018
African Cherry   1010
Black Walnut   1010
Walnut   1010
American Cherry   950
Cherry   950
Bangkirai   880
Tauari   880
Pine   870
Elm   830
Larch   800
Mahogany   800
African Cedar   765
Chestnut   540
White Birch   420
Basswood   410