What is the Janka Scale and how does it work?

When it comes to bamboo and hardwood floors, you may have heard contractors refer to the Janka Scale. What is this scale and how does it relate to your flooring? The Janka scale measures the hardness and the stability of wood. Understanding how to read a Janka Scale is essential in determining what wood is appropriate for your new wood floor project.

How do they come up with the numbers?

The Janka Scale is based upon the force required to impale a .444 inch steel ball to half its diameter (or .222 inches into the wood). The more force required to force the ball into the wood, the higher the durability of the wood.  The top number is the pounds per square inch. Each wood will have a number (such as Birch is 1260). This means that it takes 1260 ppi to drive the .444 ball .222 inches into the wood.

Different scales?

Where there is only one Janka Scale, many companies may separate the hardwoods from the soft woods, especially if that company sells softer wood which has a shorter lifespan and lower durability. It is recommended that you look at the complete chart of available wood in your area to get a proper gauge on which wood will work best for your flooring project.

 

Costs

There is a reason why the cheap wood floors are the ones which need to be replaced most frequently. The durability of these floors are generally low. This means that the scuffing, dents, and other damage is usually found on these woods. Harder woods such as the Bamboo, Rosewood, and the Mahogany woods are less likely to be damaged as their density rating is higher. Keep in mind that the higher the density, the higher the cost. You pay for quality. However, the ROI of using a denser wood is substantially higher on denser woods as you will not have to replace them for several years. Softer woods have a lower ROI as the probability for damage and maintenance is greater.

Durability vs. Visuals

If you are trying to find a particular color of wood, it is best to look at the Janka scale and pick a floor which will be durable, as well as present the color that you want. For example, pine is very low in density. However, there are a great many bamboo options which have a high density and a similar appearance.

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