What is Janka hardness and why does it matter?

Janka Hardness:  Help selecting the right floor

What's Janka?

If you're evaluating wood flooring options, you've probably seen the term "Janka rating" or "Janka hardness" tossed about.  You may have seen it on our technical specs.  Without going into the details (you can check out Wikipedia for that), Janka is a numerical value that helps you determine how hard a species of wood is -- how likely a stiletto heel is to leave a permanent impression in the surface.  

A 120 pound woman in a tiny heel will exert something like a million pounds of force in that tiny area (ok, it's not that much -- but it's a lot), so you can count on almost any wood floor to gather wear, patina, and yes tiny impressions from those who walk upon it...especially if they happen to drag in a pebble.  One thing we love about the natural reclaimed patina of Sawmill Oak is the fact that it already has surface variety, so it's great at hiding traffic patterns and wear.


What is a good threshold for commercial flooring?

Around a 1200 or 1300 Janka rating is where a wood is considered less subject to surface impressions.  It still happens (how could it not with those million pound stiletto heel assaults?), though these woods are considered appropriate for commercial spaces where gathering a well-worn patina is not the goal.  Oak is a quintessential hardwood widely used for flooring in a variety of venues, including commercial, high traffic areas. 

Can a wood with a lower Janka number be good for floors? 

Absolutely.  It just depends on your goals.  Patina-in-place describe a floor that will show a little more character as it wears.  Grandstand Fir is a classic example.  Douglas Fir has been used for ages as flooring in the northwest USA.  It tells it's story and has charm.  Many 100 year old Fir floors are still in service, sharing little hints at their history with the patina they've earned.  The higher the traffic, the more patina.  Fir can be used in commercial applications if the goal is a rich well-worn patina.  Teak is an example of a little harder floor capable of developing a rich patina.  Both are excellent in many residential settings.

Help choosing the right floor

Having appropriate expectations for how your floor will wear can contribute to your enjoyment of it.  Janka hardness helps you form those expectations.  Traffic and maintenance are big factors too, of course

For help selecting the right species and look for your project, and getting the most out of your investment, email info@anthologywoods.com or call 800.293.8178 and talk with one of our helpful experts.

Have a wood related question?  Use the form on our contact page to send it our way!