Comparing the hardness of wood species can help you find the most durable hardwood flooring for your needs.

Everyone shopping for a hardwood floor wants one that can hold up to scuffs, scratches, dents and everyday wear and tear — while still looking beautiful. Species is just one factor in hardwood durability, and you can see how it measures up with the Janka wood hardness scale.

How does the Janka wood hardness scale work?

Janka wood hardness scale, is a universal rating system that assigns each hardwood species a hardness rating based on its resistance to indentation under a controlled force, as determined in laboratory testing. This hardness rating helps flooring manufacturers determine which species would make good floors, and helps buyers compare the hardness of different products.

What is the most durable hardwood flooring?

The Janka wood hardness scale tells you how hard a particular species of wood is, but is not necessarily reflective of how durable that species is in flooring form. Other factors affecting durability include the thickness of the wood, the protective finish applied, and, for engineered wood flooring, the construction of the core layers.

Just talking species hardness though, Brazilian Walnut (Ipe) is at the top with a rating of 3684, almost three times the hardness of Red Oak. At the lower end of the wood hardness scale, you'll find very soft species like Yellow Pine (690) and Douglas Fir (660).

Soft Species May Dent or Wear Easily

Hardwoods softer than Red Oak may be more susceptible to scratches, dents and dings. This is something to consider if you have young children, large pets or a very active household. Of course, you may like a floor that takes on a rugged look and feels more “lived in” over time! And if a flooring style is designed to look more distressed, with scraping or brushing effects, it can be a lot more forgiving to wear and tear.

Harder Species Can be Challenging to Work With

Then there are hardwoods at the top of the Janka scale, so dense that installation may require more time and special tools. Exotic hardwoods tend to be exceptionally hard. For example, Brazilian Cherry (2350) is about 80% harder than Red Oak.

Red Oak Hardwood is the Perfect Mid-Range Species

Strong, resilient Red Oak with a rating of 1290, is the benchmark against which all other wood species are compared. Red Oak was chosen as the median standard because it’s one of the most readily available hardwoods. And Red Oak makes a great floor: It’s not so hard that it’s difficult to saw and nail, nor so soft that it’s easily dented. It’s just right!

When you view the wood hardness scale on any one of our samples, you'll see that the product you're viewing is shown on the chart against Red Oak, so you can tell if it's softer or harder than the median standard.

Ideal for Active Homes: Oak, Maple, and Hickory

Red Oak, White Oak, Maple, and Hickory are all great choices for busy rooms and active homes. Not only are they hard enough to generally withstand everyday wear and tear, but they are widely available and tend to be some of the more affordable types of hardwood.

High-Performance Flooring

We offer a collection called Paragon™ that offers a powerful layer of scratch protection from Diamond 10® Technology – a strong protective system infused with cultured diamond to resist scratches, stains and everyday wear. We also offer a collection called Performance Plus that is infused with acrylic, making it up to 2X harder than traditional hardwood. Even species like Cherry and Walnut become harder than Oak with Performance Plus.

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