Which Floor Is Right For You: Janka Hardness Scale

Determining the right floors for your home is no easy task. That’s why a tool such as the Janka Hardness Scale has been created. Together, we’ll look into how this unique system can be of use to you and what to look for when you plan on comparing it to your home renovation needs.

Follow along to see a more in-depth description of this amazing tool as well as more detail about the different hardwood types and their benefits.

Let’s Explain the Janka Hardness Scale

If you have any doubt about the type of wood you need for your floors, cabinets, etc., then you have come across the right tool for you. The Janka Hardness Scale is best defined as a system that can measure the level of hardness of the different woods. Put simply, on the Janka Hardness Scale, the higher the Janka rating, the harder and more durable the wood per pounds-force (United States) or kilograms-force (Sweden), or in Newtons (Australia).

To test a wood plank's susceptibility to dents and damage, a steel ball is pushed into half the diameter of a standard sample of wood. This can either reveal the side hardness or the hardness of the face of the wood.

Believe it or not, the hardest commercial-grade wood available happens to be hickory. For scale, it’s five times as hard as aspen, which is considered to be a softer wood in general. There are hundreds of different wood species that you can measure. So, the Janka Hardness Scale (the industry standard) is able to break a lot of information down in a way that can be digested and understood for all your flooring needs.

What Are the Benefits of Having Wood Floors?

If you’re still debating on whether hardwood floors are for you, then take a look at the following benefits that may be of interest to you in your renovation. 

The Janka Hardness Scale is a great tool to use, but it’s the most beneficial when you opt for a particular type of wood going into the process. This will help narrow down the search.

Read on to find out more:

  • Enhance the Overall Look of Your Home: Hardwood floors are timeless, and there are so many ways they can be styled to complement your home. By opting for hardwood, you are also opting into a flooring style that can be as versatile in design or look as you like.
  • Color That Won’t Fade: In general, color shouldn’t fade on most hardwoods, unlike other materials that can be used on flooring.
    Color will range from the difference in species selected too. While some will have richer, deeper hues, another piece of wood will appear much lighter in appearance.
  • Better Air Quality: Unlike other materials such as carpet, hardwood floors will not suck in and hold dirt and debris. It can be easily cleaned, so dirt won’t sit upon the wood. This will instantly help to improve air quality, so homeowners who are prone to suffering from allergies will have a new appreciation for hardwood floors.
    Wood is even better for air quality than laminate or tile. While tile or laminate is not made nearly the same as carpet, it still has grooves, knots, or embossments that are able to hide dirt and debris. 
  • Improved Acoustics: Sound is very much impacted by what's present in the room. This even includes the floors and surrounding walls. This is why hardwood will almost always be found in theatres or dance studios. If you don’t opt for wood but still enjoy this benefit, then vinyl may be the next best choice.

The Different Types of Wood to Rank

After exploring what the Janka Hardness Scale is capable of doing and the many benefits of having hardwood floors, let’s now look at the three main types of woods and how they rank. Each one will boast different qualities that will hopefully narrow down what style you’d like to have in your next renovation.

Each of the below woods is different in unique ways.  Take note of the relative hardness of woods to learn how they each may excel in other areas of the home than you first imagined. 

Regular Hardwoods

These trees are known to produce fruits or nuts (angiosperms) and can go dormant in the winter. In North America alone, hundreds of different varieties grow with this type of description.

These include but are not limited to black cherry, yellow birch, maple, hard maple, balsa, white oak, red oak, American beech, chestnut, pecan, purpleheart, black walnut, and ash.

Not only is this type of wood good-to-go for hardwood floors, but it’s also great for different kinds of cabinetry. Oh-la-la! It’s really the whole package.


Think of conifers, Douglas fir,  longleaf, shortleaf, southern yellow pine, white cedar, hemlock, basswood, Australian cypress, and spruce when you think about this type of wood ranking. 

These woods are popular choices for the structural lumber in a home over more decorative parts.

Tropical Hardwood

They are not native to North America, hence the name “tropical.” These woods are great for hardwood flooring. These hardwoods will include Santos mahogany, rosewood, wenge, eucalyptus, Brazilian walnut, Brazilian cherry, Brazilian ebony, African padauk, bamboo, cumaru, and teak.

These woods are known for having a bit of a different appearance and luster than wood harvested in North America. They also differ in the appearance and direction of the wood grain. 

It should be noted that eucalyptus and bamboo flooring are environmentally friendly options.   

Janka Hardness Test: The Science of Flooring

Now you know how to utilize the Janka Hardness Scale to find your perfect flooring option by investigating the resistance of a sample of wood. You also have key takeaways to better understand the unique categories and how to best use hardwood in your home.

It’s important to be well-researched when it comes to home design and repair. Without knowing all of the necessary resources or how to utilize them, you could perhaps make a costly mistake. 

So, utilize the Janka Hardness scale (thank you to Austrian wood researcher Gabriel Janka!) to find a particular wood that matches the normal wear and tear of your lifestyle and the moisture content of your environment.

So, when you pick out your new hardwood floors, you surely can’t go wrong!


How to Grade the Durability of Hardwood Flooring | Good Housekeeping

Angiosperms | NatureWorks, PBS

Choosing Kitchen Cabinets | HGTV

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