using the Janka hardness scaleWhen purchasing hardwood for your West Vancouver home, one of the biggest concerns is if the wood flooring is hard enough. No one wants to invest in new flooring only to have it quickly scratch and wear. To measure hardness, the flooring industry uses the Janka hardness scale. Read on to learn more from the experts at Floor Coverings International Northshore about what this scale means and how to use it.

The Janka Hardness Test

In the Janka hardness test, a .444 inch steel ball is driven into a wood sample to a depth of half the ball’s diameter. The average force required to do this is assigned as the Janka hardness rating. Within the U.S. this force is measured in pound-force (lbf), while other parts of the world use different units including Newtons (N) and kilogram-force (kgf). This distinction is important to keep in mind when looking up Janka hardness scales online, since the values can vary depending on the country of origin.

Janka hardness rating of various hardwoods in West VancouverUnderstanding the Janka Hardness Scale

Now that you know how hardwood is tested, how do you decipher the various Janka ratings, like Birch with a rating of 1,260 lbf or Brazilian Walnut with a rating of 3,380 lbf? How hard is hard enough? In general, any type of lumber used in flooring is hard enough to suit that application. Additionally, red oak is used as a standard for comparison, since it is the most popular flooring option.

Red oak has a Janka hardness of 1,290 lbf and is considered a good option for high traffic areas. However, it is also susceptible to scratching from pets, high heels, and similar rough wear. Woods that score above red oak will work well for high traffic area, such as hallways or entry rooms. Alternatively, softer woods should be used in low traffic areas, like bedrooms or dens.

Here is a short list of hardwoods to get a further sense of the Janka hardness scale (listed in lbf):

  • 995- American Cherry
  • 1260- Birch
  • 1290- Red Oak
  • 1450- Maple
  • 1820- Hickory
  • 3380- Brazilian Walnut

The hardest wood in the world is currently listed as the Australian Buloke, with a Janka hardness of 5,060 lbf. However, this wood is not used for commercial purposes. The species Lignum Vitae is the hardest wood commercially available with a score of 4,500 lbf. Meanwhile, Balsa is the softest wood with a hardness of 70 lbf.

Your Local Hardwood Experts

If you are shopping for new hardwood floors for your West Vancouver home, call the experts at Floor Coverings International Northshore. We offer complimentary, in-home consultations where our design associates help you decide on the best flooring product for your home.

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Photo Credit: © RomanR © Smolina Marianna