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How Important is the Hardness of Your Hardwood Flooring & What is a Janka Rating?

How Important is the Hardness of Your Hardwood Flooring & What is a Janka Rating?


One thing you might not consider when purchasing new hardwood flooring is hardness. Many may think the harder the wood of the floor or harder the finish, the better the floor is. Is that true? Does hardness even really matter? Contact us to learn more.

What Is Wood Hardness?

The main element that makes up hardness is the overall hardness of the wood species. Wood is, of course, a natural product so no element of manufacturing is able to influence the density of the wood. Each type of wood is unique to itself.

How Is Hardness Measured?

A wood species and its hardness level are measured using the Janka scale. The Janka Scale is used to measure different types of wood against another and includes both hardwood and softwood. It was invented by Gabriel Janka, an Austrian wood researcher in 1906. It became accepted as a tool by the American Society for Testing and Materials in 1972. It is used to measure denting and resistance to wear of a particular wood sample.

How is the Janka Scale Used?

The scale runs from the softest (a zero) to the hardest (4,000 lbs). Woods with a low Janka score are going to scratch and dent easily while a higher score shows that more effort is required to handle the wood (i.e. nailing and sawing). One of the hardest woods, for example, is Brazilian Walnut. It has a Janka score of 3500. This type of wood is frequently used for hardwood flooring, decks, and furniture where a high level of durability and shock resistance is required.

Is there a Good Rating or a Bad Rating?

The Janka Scale doesn’t provide information that shows one wood is better than another wood. It simply provides homeowners with a rating that can give you an idea of the species strength and hardness which allows you to know if it will hold up to heavy furniture among other things. A 1000 lbs or higher score is standard when it comes to hardwood flooring. This means you’re unlikely to make a “bad” flooring choice when choosing from the hardwood available on the market today.

Other Things to Consider

While hardness is important when it comes to the lifespan of your hardwood flooring, there are also many other things to consider that can help you have a stronger, longer-lasting floor which is not only budget-friendly but has many other benefits. Here are a few other variables that influence the hardness of your wood flooring and resistance to wear-and-tear.

  • Provenance: Woodgrain is formed by annual growth rings of the tree and the location from which the wood is harvested can make a difference to its hardness. Two types of rings form each year. The soft ring is formed during rapid growth during the spring and the harder, narrow ring is formed during the slower growth of summer. These can influence hardness because seasonal climate differs by location.
  • Texture: Textured hardwood flooring can help hide the effects of daily life such as traffic, pets, and, well, life. Textured hardwood goes through a special process where the softwood layer is removed leaving much more of the hardwood grain thus creating a more durable material.
  • Finish: Hardwood flooring finishes are an important factor for determining durability and best maintenance practices, but a finish does not guarantee a hard, damage free floor. As with any type of wood, pressure or impact still crushes wood fibers resulting in dents and other markings. High quality floor finishes do have good flexibility and can handle the impact without cracking the wood underneath.

Renew Your Flooring This Year

If this sounds like too many factors to remember when considering new flooring, don’t worry! Our flooring consultants will help you decide what kind of hardwood flooring is right for your space. If you're looking to add new hardwood flooring to your home this year, contact us today to discuss your options!