In the hardwood flooring industry, we measure the hardness of wood on the “Janka scale”. This measurement system has been used in its current form for about 100 years and is still very useful today. Testing is pretty simple. According to sizes.com, “The test measures the force required to push a steel ball with a diameter of 11.28 millimeters into the wood to a depth of half the ball’s diameter.” In the US, Janka are measured in pounds of force. Soft wood like pine might be just a few hundred Janka while a very hard wood such as rosewood might be several thousand Janka.
Is Harder Always Better?
A really hard wood is highly resistant to denting. But durability is not the only consideration in selecting your floor. You’ll also want a wood that you find visually appealing – and that fits your budget. Often, harder woods are from slower growing trees. This makes them scarcer and therefore more costly than softer lumber. There are coatings that can help woods that are lower on the Janka scale resist damage from foot traffic. So, don’t let the Janka number be your only consideration. After all, you probably aren’t going to be walking around with a ball bearing taped to your shoe to see if it dents your floor!