Wood Hardness and the Janka Scale 101: Everything You Need to Know

Aren’t all hardwood floors “hard”? Some are harder and more durable than others. The most widely-used wood hardness scale is known
Janka Hardness Testas the Janka Scale, developed in 1906 byGabriel Janka, an Austrian wood researcher. In 1927 it was standardized by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
The Janka hardness test is a measurement of the force necessary to embed a .444-inch steel ball to half its diameter in wood; in the United States, the unit used to measure is called pounds-force. It is the industry standard and a good indicator for gauging the ability of 
various species to tolerate denting and normal wear, as well as being a good indication of the effort required to either nail or saw the particular wood.

You are probably wondering how the scale works. Don't worry. we got your back! 
We are going to touch base on the topic of wood hardness and The Janka Scale. 

So, without further ado, let's dive in! 

Janka Rating Basics: A Closer Look at the Janka Test

The scale runs from zero (the softest) to 4000 (the hardest). Woods with a low rating on the wood hardness scale are those that will dent and scratch most easily. For example, Balsa wood, which is extremely lightweight and used for crafts, is one of the lowest on the scale at 100. One of the hardest woods, scoring 3680, is Brazilian Walnut.

A higher score indicates that more effort is required to nail or saw the wood. Because testing is performed on samples of wood, results can vary depending on the source of the wood and other factors. But the scale is helpful as a general industry guideline to determine the hardness of wood and which woods are appropriate for flooring and other heavy-duty uses.

Common Use of Janka Hardness Ratings

The Janka Hardness Scale doesn’t show that any type of flooring is better than another. It does give an indication of how wood flooring will hold up to foot traffic, dirt and grit, pets, furniture, and other wear factors. Take into account your personal preference in terms of color and style, how the flooring fits your budget, and your lifestyle. 

While Red Oak (1290) is a very popular flooring choice, this is partly based on its ready availability and affordable pricing. A softer lumber form like Heart Pine or American Cherry floor may have the look and feel that you desire, and may just require more dedication in various ways to maintain its look.
Our knowledgeable professionals use the wood hardness scale to assist our customers in selecting their new wood flooring. This is just one of many factors to consider as you make your choice. With over 30 years of experience in residential and commercial wood flooring, Arizona Hardwood Supply has superior knowledge of our product lines and the latest developments in the industry. 

For a detailed description of a particular species, click on its name below to view a wood flooring specification page on that type of wood. Please note that this is just a partial list (with Janka Hardness Ratings) containing some of the most popular choices in wood flooring, engineered wood flooring from softest to hardest wood, as well as some of the more exotic species we carry.

Janka Scale


Standard Sample and Exotic Lumber: Wood Hardness List 

Wood Flooring Species   Hardness
Ipe / Brazilian Walnut / Lapacho   3684
Cumaru / Brazilian Teak   3540
Ebony   3220
Brazilian Redwood / Paraju   3190
Angelim Pedra   3040
Bloodwood   2900
Red Mahogany / Turpentine   2697
Spotted Gum   2473
Brazilian Cherry / Jatoba   2350
Mesquite   2345
Santos Mahogany / Bocote / Cabreuva   2200
Pradoo   2170
Brushbox   2135
Karri   2030
Sydney Blue Gum   2023
Bubinga   1980
Cameron   1940
Tallowwood   1933
Merbau   1925
Amendoim   1912
Jarrah   1910
Purpleheart   1860
Goncalo Alves / Tigerwood   1850
Hickory / Pecan / Satinwood   1820
Afzelia / Doussie   1810
Bangkirai   1798
Rosewood   1780
African Padauk   1725
Blackwood   1720
Merbau   1712
Kempas   1710
Locust   1700
Highland Beech   1686
Wenge / Red Pine   1630
Tualang   1624
Zebrawood   1575
True Pine / Timborana   1570
Peroba   1557
Kambala   1540
Sapele / Sapelli   1510
Curupixa   1490
Sweet Birch   1470
Hard Maple / Sugar Maple   1390
Coffee Bean   1380
Natural Bamboo (represents one species)   1380
Australian Cypress   1375
White Oak   1360
Tasmanian Oak   1350
Ribbon Gum   1349
Ash (White)   1320
American Beech   1300
Red Oak (Northern)   1290
Carribean Heart Pine   1280
Yellow Birch   1260
Movingui   1230
Heart Pine   1225
Carbonized Bamboo (represents one species)   1180
Cocobolo   1136
Brazilian Eucalyptus / Rose Gum   1125
Makore   1100
Boreal   1023
Black Walnut   1010
Teak   1000
Sakura   995
Black Cherry / Imbuia   950
Boire   940
Paper Birch   910
Cedar   900
Southern Yellow Pine (Longleaf)   870
Lacewood / Leopardwood   840
Parana   780
Sycamore   770
Shedua   710
Southern Yellow Pine (Loblolly and Shortleaf)   690
Douglas Fir   660
Larch   590
Chestnut   540
Hemlock   500
White Pine   420
Basswood   410
Eastern White Pine   380

If you would like a sample of wood, don't hesitate to reach out to us! We can provide more info on how the wood feels, the moisture content, and how much wear and tear the surface of a plank can withstand. 

A Measure of the Hardness of Wood: A Crash Course in Janka

There you have it! You are now a master of wood hardness and the Janka Scale! If you have any more questions about the wood hardness scale or which types of flooring are best for your upcoming project, please click here to contact us or call (623) 742-9663 (WOOD).

If you would like to talk to us in person stop by one of our convenient Valley locations to discuss your project.

Back to Top