Does Hardwood Floor Hardness Matter?

Aug 14, 2019

Interestingly enough, that is one of the most common questions we get from consumers. The notion is that the harder the floor or, the harder the finish, the better. Here is a closer look at the properties of wood flooring hardness to help you determine the best type for your home.

Wood Flooring Hardness Elements

The main element that influences wood floor hardness is the hardness of the wood species itself. It is necessary to understand that wood is a natural product so no manufacturer can alter its density or hardness.

Measuring Wood Hardness

Wood hardness is measured using the Janka Scale. This scale determines the hardness of a particular species of wood compared to others and includes both hardwood and softwood. The Janka Scale was invented in 1906 by Gabriel Janka, an Austrian wood researcher. It was standardized in 1972 by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The Janka Scale measures the resistance and denting of a wood sample. It measures the force needed to embed half the diameter of an 11.28mm steel ball into a wood plank.

Using the Janka Scale

The Janka Hardness Scale runs from zero to 4,000 lbs. Wood that has a low rating are those that dent and scratch easily. Balsa wood, for example, is notably lightweight and is one of the weakest on the scale at 100 lbs, which is why it is used for crafts. You definitely would not want to use it for flooring.

A high score indicates that more effort is needed to nail or saw the wood. One of the hardest woods with a rating of 3,684 lbs is Ipe, also called Brazilian Walnut or Lapacho. This wood is often used for furniture, decks, and some flooring when durability and high shock resistance are required. Because of how hard it is, Ipe is often predrilled to make screwing easier.

Red Oak’s Popularity

With a rating of 1,290 lbs, Red Oak is the benchmark against all other wood species because of how strong and resilient it is. Red Oak was also chosen as the standard because it is one of the most readily available hardwood flooring options. Plus, Red Oak is easy to work with. It is not too hard to saw and nail, but it is not so soft that it dents easily either.

Good Janka Rating

The Janka Scale does not necessarily claim that a given species of wood is better for flooring than another. When choosing wood flooring for your home, the Janka Scale rating can only provide buyers with an idea of the wood’s hardness and strength. That information is essential considering it has to support heavy furniture and stand up against regular use.

Bad Janka Rating

A rating of 950 lbs or more on the Janka Scale is the norm for wood flooring options. All of the hardwood floors available on the market have a rating higher than that, so you don’t have to worry about regretting your flooring choice.

At Milton Hardwood Floors, you can rest assured that all of the species we offer are hard enough to walk on over and over again. Furthermore, we only provide hardwood flooring; we do not have any softwood, such as cedar, fir, hemlock, or pine. Contact us today for an estimate.