Getting Familiar With the Janka Rating Scale
When you start your search for hardwood flooring, you’ll quickly notice that there are many rankings to sort through. These rankings tell you a great deal about the product you’re about to buy – if you know what they all mean.
The Janka rating scale is one of the most utilized and important scales when it comes to hardwood flooring. It describes how hard the flooring is. The harder the floor, the more durable it is.
How it Works
The Janka rating scale was created to rank the various degrees of hardness throughout the different species of hardwoods. To find this number, a steel ball is pushed halfway into a 2” x 2” x 6” wood plank. The number of pounds per square inch (PSI) needed to push the steel ball into the wood determines the Janka rating.
To keep the rating consistent, testers take the wood grain into consideration. Vertical grains are tested, but not often used in the Janka rating because they handle differently.
How Janka Ratings are Stated
Janka ratings go from zero to 4,000. A rating of zero means the flooring is easy to dent and scratch. The higher the number is, the harder and more durable the floor.
Although it sounds straightforward, Janka ratings can get confusing. Each country uses their own set of metrics to calculate this rating. For example, the United States calculates in pounds, while Australia calculates in Newtons and Norway calculates in kilograms of force. With so many variations, it’s hard to keep a consistent ranking, so some Janka ratings are stated as “good” or “bad.”
“Good” vs. “Bad” Janka Ratings
“Good” ratings show that with the proper care and damage prevention, the hardwood floor can look good and last for years to come.
You usually will not see a hardwood floor with a “bad” rating. Those ratings are typically reserved for woods used for products other than flooring, such as Balsa wood used for crafts.
Should you Purchase Based on the Janka Rating?
With so much variation, you might wonder if you need to consider the Janka rating in your flooring purchase. The concern is valid.
So much of a hardwood floor’s longevity and durability relies on the maintenance and care it receives over its lifetime.
Softwood doesn’t always mean weaker wood. Take Oak Floors for example. Oak flooring is one of the most popular hardwood floors, yet it is also one of the softer floors. The ratings vary depending on what style of oak you get. It is so popular because it is such an affordable type of wood – not because of its Janka rating.
The Janka rating provides insight into a wood’s hardness, but beyond that, it’s not a good measure of the longevity of your flooring. No matter how hard the wood is, you will need to properly maintain and care for it to keep it looking its best over time.
Choose your next flooring based on your specific needs, the application, price and looks before taking the Janka rating into consideration.
Janka Ratings for Engineered Hardwood
Engineered hardwood floors cannot be tested with this method, as they only have a thin veneer of hardwood. The Janka rating of the hardwood veneer will sometimes be listed to give the consumer a better idea of the surface strength, but it is not a full representation of the full plank hardness.