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Janka Hardness Scale Ratings for Popular Hardwood Floors

Last time we looked briefly at the history of the Janka Hardness Scale and how it works. Let’s continue the subject and show you how to use this tool to find a hardwood floor that fits perfectly in your home and lifestyle.

When you’re shopping for hardwood flooring, there are many choices. It’s really handy to have the Janka Hardness Scale to help you make comparisons. Not all hardwoods perform the same!

We know red oak is the Janka Hardness Scale benchmark against which all other hardwood species are compared. Red oak is hard, but not so hard that it’s difficult to work with or so dense that it’s resistant to fluctuating temperatures. Red oak is also resilient, meaning it holds up beautifully under normal foot traffic.

Hardwoods that are softer than red oak – use the Janka Hardness Scale to compare! – may dent or wear more easily. This is something to consider if you have young children, large pets or a very active household. That said, you may like a floor that takes on a rugged look and feels more “lived in” over time.

Then there are hardwoods that are so dense that they’re challenging to work with, meaning installation may require more time, special tools and higher costs. When buying a hardwood floor, spend some time discovering what features and performance requirements you need.

Here are some of the most popular hardwood options along with their hardness ratings:

Red Oak (1290) – No matter how often floor fashions change, oak floors always remain a popular choice in wood flooring. Red oak is stiff and dense, making it very resistant to wear. It also has high shock resistance. The color of red oak is relatively consistent from heartwood to sapwood, retaining its uniform light brown coloring with red or pink tint.
Maple (1450) – Maple’s fine, straight grain contributes to its high crushing strength and stiff, long-lasting composition. Resistance to scuffs, scrapes and shock are qualities that make maple a preferred flooring for busy households.
Hickory (1820) – Hickory’s hardness rating is an exceptional 1820, making it about 50% harder than red oak and considerably higher than most North American hardwoods. Its density, however, makes it more difficult to machine and work with hand tools. Prized for its rustic qualities, hickory offers wide color variations, from creamy white to reddish brown, and character marks like knots and sap pockets.
Brazilian Cherry (2350) – With a rating that’s around 80% harder than red oak, this exotic wood is near the top of the wood hardness scale. Brazilian cherry is particularly known its density and hardness, and loved for its rich colors that range from russet red to marmalade brown when brand new, turning to warm cherry brown over time.
Where to find a hardwood hardness scale

Search online for “hardwood hardness scale” and you’ll find many websites. The Janka Hardness Scale has an easy-to-read scale with links to profiles of each listed species. You can also find websites that focus on specific ranges of species, such as unusual exotic hardwoods.

With the knowledge of a species’ hardness rating, you now have a valuable tool for making a more informed decision on the right hardwood floor for your home and lifestyle.

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