Hardness Matters - Explaining the Hardness of Different Flooring Options

One of the questions that we get asked daily here daily at Hardwood Bargains is about the hardness of our floors. Consumers want to know what species of wood is the most resistant to dents and scratches.

The first thing you should know is that while some floors are much harder than others, all of them are susceptible to dents when a lot of pressure is applied. The hardwood flooring industry uses the Janka hardness scale to determine the strength of various floors. The Janka scale measures the force that is required to embed a 0.444” steel ball into the wood to half the ball’s diameter, leaving an indentation in the wood. The results of the test are stated in a pound-force per square inch (psi) measurement.

Janka Hardness test The Janka Harness test explained

Just to give you an idea, a 6000 lb. elephant exerts a pressure of 75 psi as it walks while a 100 lb. woman wearing high heels can be exerting a pressure of over 1500 psi as she places all of her weight on one heel.

Here is a list of the performance of the floors found on HardwoodBargains.com on the Janka hardness test:

  • Stand-woven Bamboo and Eucalyptus 3000 psi
  • Brazilian Cherry 2350 psi
  • Acacia 2200 psi
  • Tigerwood 1850 psi
  • Hickory 1820 psi
  • European White Oak 1360 psi
  • Red Oak 1290 psi
  • Birch 1260 psi
  • Walnut 1010 psi

As you can see, there is a big difference in hardness between various species of hardwood. It takes more than twice the amount of pressure to dent an acacia floor as it does to dent a walnut hardwood floor.

Laminate Flooring

Unlike solid and engineered hardwood floors, laminate floors do not have Janka ratings. Laminate floors are made out of high-density fiberboard (HDF) or medium density fiberboard (MDF) and are not actually comprised of any real hardwood. The durability of laminate can be assessed by its AC rating. European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF) developed several tests that measure factors like resistance to burning and susceptibility to denting, in order to determine the durability of all laminate flooring. All laminate floors are assigned a score from 1 to 5 based on their performance on EPLF tests. A floor with an AC1 rating is suitable for light home use, while a floor with an AC5 rating will be able to hold up in a commercial location with heavy traffic.

It is always a good idea to consider the durability and hardness of floors when making your hardwood flooring decision.

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