Janka Scale

December 31, 2005
janka scale
Janka, short for the Janka Scale or Janka Hardness Rating, is a way of communicating how hard a wood is. The Janka Hardness Chart lists woods by their rating. Though it’s good to know a trees hardness, using the Janka table to help you buy your hardwood flooring may not make sense; just because a wood is hard doesn’t make it a good flooring option. The Janka hardwood flooring test is done on both the side and end of wood. Janka ratings make it easy for people to discuss the durability of different woods. Use Janka as part of your decision making processs, but not the only factor.

Of the characteristics and properties to consider when choosing your hardwood flooring, the most important is probably the relative hardness of the wood. 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.

The Janka Hardness Scale lists the Janka rating of wood and has become the industry standard for determining whether a given wood is suitable for flooring material. Moreover, the Red Oak, which has a Janka rating of 1290, is the industry benchmark for comparing the relative hardness of different wood species. Since the hardness of the wood varies with the direction of the grain, both side testing and end testing is performed on wood.
While it’s true that the hardwood used in flooring is durable enough to withstand normal use, that doesn’t mean that the wood won’t dent or mar with a hard enough impact. Even appliances and furniture will eventually leave dents on a hardwood floor. Fortunately, the natural beauty of wood floors can easily be restored by sanding and refinishing the flooring.
Wood is a natural material and every piece is different. The growth patterns of each wood species are influence by its environment: the sunlight, minerals in the soil, overall climate, and even insects. Some of the most beautiful wood is that which has actually been damaged by nature itself.
Although the higher the Janka rating, the harder the wood, don’t mistake hardness for the best wood. In addition to a wood’s hardness, other qualities to consider when choosing a wood floor include both aesthetic and physical properties. For example, choose a wood with a texture, grain, and color that fit your style, and take into account the wood’s durability and stability. And of course, the wood floor you choose must be available and fit within your budget.
Hardwood flooring is priced by square foot, so it’s important to have your measurements when pricing your flooring options. Surprisingly, the cost of hardwood flooring isn’t necessarily based on Janka rating, where the higher the Janka rating, the higher the price. Rather, exotic, specialty, and scarce woods are more expensive than more readily available woods. For example, for years, fir was less expensive than oak but since the fir resources have greatly diminished, now the opposite is true. Today, oak is the most popular hardwood flooring choice.
As you research hardwood flooring options, keep in mind that there are two main groups of flooring materials: solid wood and engineered wood. Solid wood is milled from a solid piece of wood and is generally used over a wood sub-floor and nailed to the sub-floor. Engineered wood is made by bonding layers of veneer and lumber in at least three layers in a cross-ply arrangement and is used when installing the wood flooring to concrete.
For consumers, it’s important to recognize that each wood has its own personality and to decide which hardwood flooring is best for your specific application. Understanding the Janka table, and pros and cons of each wood will help give you more realistic expectations about how your wood flooring will perform. Choosing the right floor for your home will give your room a natural beauty that will give your room warmth and personality.

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