Most of us have heard the term harder wood and softer wood when it comes to hardwood flooring. But how are each of these wood species of wood determined to be harder or softer? In comes the Janka Scale which is used to measure the hardness of both domestic hardwood and exotic hardwood species. In 1906 Gabriel Janka, an Austrian wood researcher, invented the scale by creating the test we still use today. This test is performed by determining the force required to embed a .444-inch steel ball half way into the wood.
The Janka Scale starts at zero and goes up to 4000. The softest wood would be a zero rating and the hardest wood would be a rating of 4000. Although the scale does not have any woods at the zero rating or the 4000 rating because these woods would be too soft to function as a good flooring and too hard to mill for flooring. See the below scale taken from the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) which uses Northern Red Oak as a base value since it is a common flooring choice in homes and buildings today.
So how does this ultimately relate to your hardwood flooring project? If your living environment involves the high probability of a child, just for example, dropping items on your floor it might be best to use a flooring that is rated higher on the Janka Scale. For image and relatability purposes replace the steel ball used in the test with a heavy chair being tipped over and imagine the dent it may leave in your floor. As we recommend in all our posts, visit our showroom to discuss your specific project and we can work together to determine the right hardwood flooring for you.