What Are Janka Hardness Ratings & Do They Matter?

What Are Janka Hardness Ratings & Do They Matter?

Taking the time out of your hectic schedule to fix up your home can become exhausting and expensive. It’s a tedious process that requires extensive research, having backup plans, and knowing a reputable company that can get the job done. It’s especially true when choosing the right hardwood flooring for your home. Considering cost and labor, you pay for what you get in quality. So it’s essential to consider the Janka Hardness Scale for finding a reliable, sturdy hardwood species.

So what are Janka hardness ratings, and do they matter? Let’s go through the basics of the Janka Hardness Scale, how the test is performed, ratings, and the species to keep an eye on. You want flooring that looks beautiful and stands the test of time.

What Is the Janka Hardness Scale?

The Janka Hardness Scale originated with an Austrian man named Gabriel Janka, who worked for the Forest Products Lab of the US Department of Agriculture, also known as the USDA. He became tasked with measuring the hardness of US hardwoods, thus quickly developing the wood rating scales that the world now incorporates. As such, the Janka Hardness Test became formalized for Testing and Materials.

The Janka Hardness Test helps engineering specialists discover various materials’ hardness outside of wood species. Because they have a better grasp on hardness thanks to the Janka Hardness Test, they can figure out how much wear and tear differing materials can handle. As a result, the Janka Hardness Scale helped create high-quality tools, products, and building materials.

How Is the Test Performed?

The Janka Hardness Test is a straightforward process; it measures the resistance of a piece of wood by implementing denting and wear. The tester places an 11.28 mm steel ball on top of a bit of solid, unfinished, knot-free wood that has around 12 percent moisture content. The wood is then embedded halfway with the steel at a precisely measured force, leaving a 200 square mm hemispherical indentation in the wood.

The test indicates the strength and durability of different wood species, thus giving a specific number related to the amount of force applied to the plank. For example, if a piece of wood has a rating of 2,500, it means that 2,500 pounds of pressure are what the plank can handle. The higher the number, the stronger the wood species is.

What’s Considered a Good Rating?

You want the wood species you choose to resist everyday wear and tear. For flooring, an essential piece of criteria in choosing a wood species is resistance to denting due to pressure. For example, your flooring should resist the tip of a small chair’s legs, a pet’s nails, falling objects, and so on. The Janka Hardness Scale helps determine how much pressure varying wood species can handle.

If you want a lasting finish, the Janka Hardness Scale of the wood species you choose should be 1,000 or higher. The more pressure a wood species can handle, the higher the Janka rating. So if you want hardwood that’s resistant to denting and scuffing, then the Janka Hardness Scale should be something to keep in mind.

Types of Hardwood To Know

Before picking the most robust wood imaginable, you must consider the cost and if the strength will benefit your home. For example, while Brazilian cherry is one of the highest-rated floorings you can find, it does cost significantly more than standard oak flooring. You have to consider your budget, the labor costs, time, and how it will work in your home. Determining the right solid wood plank flooring is largely up to you.

Brazilian Cherry

Also known as Jatoba wood, Brazilian cherry has a Janka hardness rating of 2,820. It offers moderate durability and has a natural resistance to termites and preservative treatments. It has some beneficial mechanical properties, including incredible strength, hardness, toughness, good bending characteristics, and high shock resistance.

Its color ranges from salmon red to orange brown, and it has dark brown streaks and a golden luster. Because of its high density, it’s poor for nail use and doesn’t take a high polish; it holds screws well and handles glues and stains.


Holding the Janka hardness rating of 1,820, hickory makes a reliable choice for hardwood flooring. It has a brown or reddish-brown color with straight grain patterns, and its strength depends on the growth rate. It offers excellent bending characteristics, including high bending, crushing strength, stiffness, and shock resistance. However, using hand- or power tools on hickory is challenging, and you’ll need to predrill it for nailing. Thankfully, it takes stains and polishes well.


Coming in a variety of different subspecies, teak has a Janka hardness rating of 1,155, making it slightly harder than oak. Because teak has the same physical strength and density as heartwood, it makes for more straightforward utilization without risking strength issues. While teak is a hardy wood, it isn’t challenging to work with; it stains well and comes in many colors. Lastly, it has high resistance to rot, pests, and fungi.

Red Oak

Sitting at a score of 1,290 on the Janka Hardness Scale, red oak offers high crushing strength, medium bending strength, and stiffness while being very good for steam bending. Its only downfalls are that it has a moderate blunting effect on cutters and varies in density. However, it stains and polishes nicely, and it ranges in color from a light tan to pink with a reddish tinge. If you want a reliable flooring option at an affordable price, the oak species makes an excellent choice.

Douglas Fir

With a meager score of 660 on the Janka Hardness Scale, the Douglas fir’s hardness doesn’t compare well to the previously mentioned ratings. Although its score sits low on the scale, it has excellent elasticity and is easy to maintain. It also offers decent durability and beautiful colors, making it stylish and eye-catching for every guest walking in the door. While Douglas fir may have a lower score on the Janka Hardness Scale, that doesn’t mean it can’t hold up against scratches and nicks.


So do Janka hardness ratings matter? Simply put, they matter depending on how you’ll use a room. You must consider foot traffic, the chances of falling objects, the furniture you use, and how often you use the space. So if you want to know how strong a specific wood species is, the Janka Hardness Scale is a valuable tool that will help you find the flooring you’re looking for.

What Are Janka Hardness Ratings & Do They Matter?

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