May 7, 2024

The Janka Hardness Scale — Testing Flooring Durability

blog > Resources > The Janka Hardness Scale — Testing Flooring Durability


The Janka Hardness Scale — Testing Flooring Durability

The Janka hardness scale is a way of measuring the density, hardness and resistance of various wood. The test is named after its creator, Gabriel Janka. 

This brief guide looks at the Janka hardness scale for testing flooring durability. It explores common hardwoods that have a good rating on the Janka scale. The guide also helps you discover the benefits of hardwoods and why they are excellent choices for flooring. 

Why Is Wood Hardness Important? 

A floor is a floor, right? While that may seem true on the surface, the type of material you use for your flooring does matter. Floors are the most high-traffic area in any home as they connect every room in the house. On top of withstanding heavy foot traffic, they also need to be able to support all the home’s furniture, in addition to wear and tear from any children and pets. It makes sense to choose wood that is resistant to wear and tear. 

The Janka hardness test is an easy and effective way of knowing which wood to choose for your flooring. A floor’s durability is especially important in busy areas like hallways, stairs and kitchens. 

Understanding the Janka Hardness Scale

The Janka hardness scale tests a wood’s resistance to denting, dings and wear. It measures the force needed to embed a steel ball with an 11.28 millimeter or 0.444 inch-diameter halfway into a wood sample. Depending on your region, the scale may be measured in pound-force (lbf), kilogram-force (kgf), Newton (N) or kilonewton (kN). 

The higher the number, the more resistant and durable the wood is. One of the woods that ranks highest on the Janka hardness scale is Brazilian walnut or ipe, with a rating of 3,684. One the other hand, balsa wood has a rating of only 100. 

What Is a Good Janka Hardness Rating?

What is a good hardness rating? And does a low rating mean a wood’s quality is poor?

Experts generally recommend choosing a wood with a rating of 1,000 lbf or higher for flooring. The industry median is Red Oak, with a rating of 1,260. Species with higher ratings are considered hardwood and species with lower ratings are considered softwoods. 

The Janka scale rating is a good way to determine a wood’s quality since it measures the wood’s durability and resistance to wear and tear. However, a lower Janka rating does not necessarily mean the wood is low quality. Softwoods have various applications across the home and offer many other benefits, such as being cost-effective and easy to work with.

Additionally, some softwoods like Eastern red cedar have a good Janka rating and are strong, durable options. 

Factors That Affect Wood Hardness

Various factors affect a wood’s hardness and its rating on the Janka scale, including: 

Factors That Affect Wood Hardness
  • Density: Typically, the denser a wood is, the harder and stronger it is.
  • Moisture content: Woods that hold more moisture will naturally be softer and have a lower rating. 
  • Growth patterns: Softwoods generally grow faster than hardwood species. 

Apart from the Janka scale, other factors affect the durability of wood flooring and how long it can last: 

  • The type of finish used for the wood
  • Environmental factors like a humid environment or a high-traffic environment with children and pets
  • How well you care for and maintain your hardwood floors and the type of cleaning products you use
  • If the floor’s construction is engineered or solid

Common Hardwood Species

There is a range of popular hardwoods for flooring to choose from, each with unique features to suit various needs and preferences:

  • Maple: Maple is one of the hardest wood varieties. The wood has a beautiful, bright appearance that is easy to clean. 
  • Ash: Ash flooring is weather-resistant, durable and has a beautiful modern finish.
  • Walnut: Walnut floors are sturdy and long-lasting. Walnut has a unique grain and a rich and sophisticated appearance. 
  • Oak: Oak flooring is dense and adds a bright finish to any home. 
  • Hickory: Hickory flooring is durable and easy to maintain. The color and grain are ideal for modern homes. 
  • Cherry: Cherry floors are vivid and eye-catching. It is affordable and easy to work with.

The Benefits of Having Hardwood Floors

If you’re planning to install hardwood floors, know that it’s an investment that comes with many advantages:

  • Durability: The main benefit of having hardwood floors is that they are much stronger and longer-lasting compared to other flooring options like carpet or tile. 
  • Aesthetics: Hardwood floors have a high-end appearance that is simultaneously elegant, timeless and homely. 
  • Health and environmental benefits: Hardwood floors do not hold allergens from dust, pet dander and dirt, which helps you improve your indoor air quality and provide a healthier environment. 
  • Increased property value: Homebuyers prefer hardwood floors for their quality, classic look and low maintenance. Because hardwood is popular with buyers, good quality hardwood flooring may improve your home’s resale value. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Find the right hardwood flooring with answers to these FAQs: 

How Long Should Hardwood Floors Last?

Solid hardwood can last up to 100 years or even more, depending on the type of wood, a home’s conditions and proper care and maintenance. You can also refinish hardwood floors to restore them back to their best condition. 

Which Hardwood Lasts the Longest? 

Ipe is one of the hardest woods and has one of the longest life spans if treated properly. While the hardest woods are resistant to damage from impact, wear and even scratches, other factors affect a wood’s longevity. Some woods are weather-resistant and won’t rot or become brittle as easily. Other wood species repel insects like termites. 

How Can You Maintain Hardwood Floors to Keep Their Durability?

You can extend the longevity of your wooden flooring with proper care and maintenance. To care for your floors, you can sweep and dust daily, vacuum every week, clean with a damp mop twice monthly and use a recommended hardwood floor cleaner once or twice a month. 

You can also apply a fresh coat of recommended finish once every two to four years and sand and refinish every 10 to 15 years or as suggested by a flooring expert.

Quality Hardwood Floors From Superior Hardwoods of Montana

Are you ready to have beautiful, durable hardwood flooring in your home or build a wooden deck? At Superior Hardwoods of Montana, we guide you through our quality selection of hardwood so that you can make the perfect choice for your floors and other building projects. You are bound to find the right wood for your floors with our decades of experience and quality selection of wood. 

Let us guide you through the woods. Contact us today to request a quote or learn more about our wood products and flooring solutions.

Quality Hardwood Floors From Superior Hardwoods of Montana