List of Hardwoods Ranked by Hardness: Understand the Ratings

Are you searching for hardwood flooring? This is the material of choice for many homeowners.

But what kind is best for you?

Each species of hardwood is suitable for different applications. This is because hardwoods are typically sorted by hardness, with softer ones being unsuitable for certain uses. For instance, harder hardwoods last longer and stand up better to wear and tear.

To help consumers understand the difference between wood species hardness, the lumber industry created the Janka hardness scale. This ranking of wood’s hardness provides an idea of how your flooring will perform over the years.

To help you make the best choice, here is a list of hardwood by hardness and how this may impact your purchase.

Understand Flooring Ratings with This List of Hardwoods Sorted by Hardness

Whether you’re looking for unfinished or prefinished hardwood flooring, read about its hardness ratings to make an informed decision.

1. The Janka Hardness Scale

When looking at hardwood flooring, you may come across references to the Janka rating of different species. This scale measures how much force is needed (in pounds per square inch) to embed a 0.444 inch steel ball half of its diameter into the wood.

Each type of hardwood, whether it is used for furniture or flooring, is measured using the Janka scale, with ratings ranging between 300 and 4000. Obviously, the higher the rating is, the more hard-wearing the wood.

One of the most common uses of Janka ratings is to determine whether a particular wood species is suitable as flooring. For this, the planks need to be 2” X 6” with a thickness of at least 6 mm. However, when the wood is tested in lumber form it needs to be cut from the tree trunk, which is known as the heartwood. A standard sample is clear of knots and has 12% moisture content.

In an effort to make choosing hardwood flooring easier for our customers, here is a list of hardwoods measured by their hardness. This will help you determine how dense a particular type may be. It will also give you a good idea of how resistant the particular wood type will be to dings, dents, and scratches once installed.

The Janka Rating for Various Hardwood Species (Hard to Soft)
 Patagonian Rosewood 3840
 Brazilian Walnut 3680
 Red Cumaru 3640
 Brazilian Ebony 3585
 Brazilian Pecan 3540
 Brazilian Cherry 2350
 Mesquite 2345
 Santos Mahogany 2200
 Cameron 1940
 Merbau 1925
Jarrah 1910
 Malaccan Cherry 1900
 Tigerwood 1850
 Pecan 1820
 Hickory 1820
 Rosewood 1780
 Locust 1700
Hard Maple 1450
 Australian Cypress 1375
 White Oak 1360
 White Ash 1320
 Northern Red Oak 1290
 Yellow Birch 1260
 Carbonized Bamboo 1180
American Walnut 1010
 Teak 1000
 Paper Birch 910
 Cedar 900
Lacewood 840
Sycamore 770
 Douglas Fir 660
 Sassafras 630
 Chestnut 540
Poplar 540
 Hemlock 500
 Basswood 410
 Eastern White Pine 380



2. Why is the hardness rating important?

While most hardwoods are suitable to be used as flooring, the scale provides buyers an easy way to compare the durability of various wood species. And while aesthetics are one of the most important factors for homeowners, the Janka rating can also help determine the most suitable option. It will also ensure homeowners that they can find a more scratch-resistant and durable product.

Considerations When Choosing Hardwoods for Flooring

Regardless of how high a particular hardwood species may rate on the Janka scale, normal use won’t cause much wear and tear. However, if you have pets and kids, it’s important to take preventive measures to ensure your hardwood flooring keeps looking good for years to come.

Furthermore, there are pet-friendly hardwood flooring options you can consider, making the best choice for your home.

While it might seem like a good idea to choose the hardest wood flooring for your space, there are some things you should keep in mind:

  • It is possible to harden softwood varieties somewhat by using polyurethane finishes.
  • When considering a period-correct renovation, consider the type of wood flooring that may have been popularly available during that time.
  • Hardwood varieties may be more difficult to nail, drill and saw, making them harder to work with. As a result, they will require more labour and time, which may require greater expense.

Now that you have this information about hardwoods by their hardness level on the Janka scale, you are (more) ready to make the right decision for your home. It can be tricky to understand the numbers, so you must ask yourself what you need and whether a specific hardwood species will be useful. Since there are many varieties available, it may be beneficial to speak to our hardwood flooring experts. They are your best bet at understanding what you need and recommending suitable products.

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