How Hard is Hard Enough?

Rod Lorenz

Nowadays, it is possible to buy many different kinds of wood flooring and to use different finishes on those floors. But, does the species, finish, and hardness of wood really matter? It sure does.

The finish is the protection over the bare wood. It prevents water from getting into the wood and provides protection from everyday use. But, it will not make the wood underneath measurably harder. Each species of wood has a different hardness. Some woods are soft, such as cherry, pine and walnut, while other woods are extremely hard, such as species from South America like Ipe, Cumaru, or Brazilian Cherry.

Why Is Wood Floor Hardness Important?

Even though the durability and long-lasting power of the wooden floor are not entirely defined by the hardness of the species of wood, it is an important factor when you are investing in a real wood floor, and you want it to last for as long as possible. The hardness of the wood is what will determine how your floor will age and 'behave' throughout the years.

Before you choose the right wood hardness for your home, consider these questions:

1. How much activity will your floor see?

2. How bothered are you with damaged floors?

For some people, dents and other damages are a problem, so the wood hardness will be crucial to them. However, some people see such damages as interesting and trendy. As a matter of fact, purposely denting floors is a popular thing nowadays.

How is Wood Hardness Measured?

Wood hardness is measured using the Janka Scale, which determines the hardness of a specific species of wood over another. The Janka Scale measures the denting and wear-resistance of a wood sample, whether it is hardwood or softwood. It measures the force needed to embed an 0.444-inch steel ball to half its diameter into the wood. With the Janka Scale, you can determine if your project needs hard and durable wood or a softer and more flexible option.

Wood Types

If you are opting for a hardwood floor, you can consider these guidelines to make the right decision:

  • Oak is the king of hardwood floors for a good reason, especially in North America. It is a durable wood that takes stain very well.
  • Though it's slightly softer than oak, Walnut has a deep color that makes it ideal for rooms with a darker finish and a warmer tone. Cherry and Pine are also on the softer side, but they are a good choice if you're going for that 'floor with a character' look.
  • Hickory can provide good dent protection and are excellent choices for most houses.
  • Exotic species such as Mahogany or Brazilian Cherry are especially favored for their hardness and durability and are perfect for high traffic areas in a home. Exotic species typically rate high on the Janka Scale and often have very striking grain and intense coloring. This type of wood can bring a truly upscale feel to your home.

Take Away

With their natural beauty and durability, hardwood floors remain a popular choice. Though the Janka Scale is an important factor when choosing a proper floor for your home, it is not the only one. Other factors are wood's character, graining, texture, width, finish, and maintenance. Would you like to talk with us about hardwood floors? We’re here to help. Feel free to contact us, or you can come to visit our showroom.

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