Janka Hardness Scale

The Janka scale rates the relative hardness of wood. We have listed some of the most popular choices in wood flooring and included some more exotic species for your reference and comparison.

How is the rating determined?

Janka Hardness testing of hardwood flooring The higher the number the harder the wood. These ratings were determined using the Janka Hardness Test which measures the side hardness measure of the force required to embed a .444 inch steel ball to half its diameter into the wood. This is one of the best measures of the ability of wood species to withstand denting and wear. It is also a good indicator of how hard a species is to saw or nail. It is not a measure of how easy or hard it is to scratch.

General Guide

This should only be used as a general guide when comparing various species of wood flooring. Depending on where the wood is harvested the results may vary. Plank construction and finish are also important factors when determining the durability and ease of maintenance of any wood floor. A wood's relative hardness is determined with the Janka Rating System, which measures the force required to drive a .444 inch steel ball into the wood until half the diameter of the ball is imbedded in the wood.

Industry Standard

The Janka Hardness Scale rating has become the industry standard for determining whether a given wood is suitable for flooring material. Red Oak, which has a Janka rating of 1290, is the industry benchmark for comparing the relative hardness of different wood species.

What it All Means

The majority of hardwoods and many softwoods are durable enough to withstand normal flooring use - especially with proper installation and finishing. However, no matter the Janka rating, all wood will dent or mar with a hard enough impact. It is only a measure of how hard a wood is compared to red oak. It is either harder or softer. All wood floors will scratch and dent which add to the natural beauty of a wood floor. It is not recommended that you purchase a wood floor based solely on this scale, as even the hardest wood floors will scratch.

Janka Hardness Scale


Janka Hardness testing of hardwood flooring


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