The Janka hardness test provides consumers with valuable information about the durability and strength of a particular type of wood species. This test is particularly important when considering which types of wood floors are best for your home. But what do Janka ratings actually mean and how does this measurement relate to the durability of engineered and hardwood flooring?
Understanding how the Janka hardness test is performed and knowing how to compare results allows consumers to make better decisions about their wood floors.
How Does the Janka Hardness Test Work?
The Janka test was developed as a method of measuring each specific type of wood’s level of resistance to wear and denting. Using a steel wall measuring 0.444-inches, the Janka test records how much force is required to embed that ball into the wood to a depth equaling half of the steel ball’s diameter.
In North America, that measurement is reported in LBF (pounds-force) or PSI (pounds per square inch). You may see the Janka rating stated before the wood type – 3840 Curupay, for example.
Often Janka ratings are stated as the “hardness” of a product. You can verify the figures with your flooring distributor, but in most cases any numbers relating to hardness are Janka ratings.
The Janka hardness test follows ASTM standards, providing trusted testing methods and ratings. All testing is completed on samples, not on installed flooring, and results are averaged for better readability.
How to Compare Janka Ratings on Wood Floors
In simple terms, the greater amount of force required to embed that steel ball, the harder the wood. Hardness tends to indicate durability, and wood floors with higher Janka ratings should stand up better against normal wear and tear.
Curupay rates well in the Janka hardness test, with a score of 3840 psi. Hard maple or sugar maple, on the other hand, comes in with a 1540 Janka rating. That number is still quite a bit higher than Chestnut though, with a Janka rating of 540, or White Pine’s rating of just 420.
Many factors contribute to the hardness of wood, including grain direction and cut. And the strength and durability of wood floors is affected by several factors as well, including the manufacturing process, design and finish. The core of engineered wood floors plays a role in determining the overall strength, although the Janka rating of the wood remains the dominant factor.
Hardwood flooring installers consider the Janka ratings when estimating time and cost of installation. Wood flooring with higher ratings may need a seasoned installer and the right tools to nail down, due to greater levels of resistance naturally found in the wood. This is another reason why wood floors with high Janka ratings carry a premium price tag, when compared to other types of wood.
Look for the Janka ratings when shopping for hardwood flooring or floating wood floors. Use that figure to compare different wood species and get a better idea of how well that flooring will stand up to everyday wear and tear.