With such a huge array of wood species available, you may wonder if there is a way to measure the hardness of one type of wood compared to another. Well in fact there is! The Janka Hardness Scale is used in the flooring industry to determine the hardness of different species of woods. So how does it work? It measures the force required to embed a .444 inch steel ball into
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the wood to half the ball’s diameter. The Janka hardness is expressed in pounds-force. The test is meant to be used only for unfinished hardwood. Since pre-finished wood is treated with aluminum-oxide based sealers that often double or triple the wood’s dent and scratch resistance, the Janka Scale cannot be used with pre-finished flooring. The Janka scale has become the industry standard in determining if a particular species is suitable for flooring. It is also a good indicator of how wood will withstand denting and wear. Below you will find how some of the most popular woods stack up. The benchmark for comparison is Red Oak, which has a rating of 1290. Typically the harder a wood, the more durable it will be in high-traffic areas of your home (such as the living room or kitchen), where it will better withstand things like high heels and dropped objects. But keep in mind that no hardwood is indestructible. No matter how high it ranks on the Janka scale, if you drop a 50 pound lamp on your floor or drag a nail across it, it will still dent and scratch. The finish that you select for your floor, as well as its daily maintenance, are also factors that contribute to how well it will wear.