Janka Rating Scale and Wood Hardness Ratings

Have you ever wondered what are the hardest types of wood? The Janka rating scale is the standard of measurement for determining the hardness of different wood species. Ratings are measured by the resistance of a wood sample to denting and general wear and tear. In determining wood hardness, the Janka Scale observes a variety of factors:

  • Janka Rating ScaleWood hardness can vary with different directions of the wood grain.
  • Testing the surface of a board, perpendicular to the grain, measures “side hardness.”
  • Testing the cut surface of a stump measures “end hardness.”

The Janka Hardness Test measures the side hardness measurement of the force required to ingrain a .444-inch steel ball to half its diameter into the wood. The higher the number equals, the harder the wood; in the United States this measurement is in pounds-force.

Rating the Most Popular Species

Red oak, which has a Janka rating of 1290, is the most popular U.S. hardwood species and is an industry benchmark for correlating the relative hardness of different hardwood species. While there are plenty of hard domestic wood species, some of the hardest woods come from exotic trees in countries like Peru, Brazil, and Africa.

From highest to lowest, below are the Janka ratings for some of the most popular hardwood species (for a full list of all wood species and their Janka ratings, you can refer to this chart).

Wood Species

Rating

Wood Species

Rating

Brazilian Walnut/Ipe

3684

White Oak

1360

Brazilian Cherry/ Jatoba

2350

White Ash

1320

Santos Mahogany

2200

American Beech

1300

Hickory/Pecan

1820

Red Oak

1290

Rosewood

1780

Yellow Birch

1260

Red Pine

1630

American Walnut

1010

Sweet Birch

1470

American Cherry

950

Hard Maple

1450

Cedar

900

Natural Bamboo

1380

Cumaru

790

Australian Cypress

1375

Douglas Fir

660

Is a Higher or Lower Janka Rating Better?

The Janka Hardness Scale is an industry standard for measuring how durable various wood species are — and more and more consumers are looking to it to make their buying decisions.

While most hardwoods and softwoods will withstand normal wear and tear, all wood is susceptible to denting and other potential damage — regardless of how high or low their Janka ratings are. So don’t assume that a harder-rated species will fully withstand dents and imperfections in high traffic areas or in areas of your home that would be more susceptible to deterioration.

Still, hardwoods and softwoods that have a higher Janka rating will be more durable, and would be preferable for homes with large pets and high foot traffic. If you are interested in learning more about hardwood and the durability of specific wood species, give us a call or visit our showroom to speak to a flooring specialist.

Just Around The Corner is a hardwood flooring retailer in St. Louis, MO.

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