Choosing The Perfect Hardwood Flooring: An Overview Of The Janka Test And Important Issues To Consider

Posted on: 22 May 2015

Despite the deep recession, the wood flooring industry has been making a comeback, with 86% of wood flooring distributors claiming that their business increased in 2014. Homeowners love the beauty of hardwood flooring; however, some homeowners have been misled by manufacture guarantees and claims regarding the durability of the flooring, which is strongly correlated with the hardness of the wood. The hardness of the wood can be measured using the Janka test, which will be explored in-depth in this article.

Measurement of Hardness of Flooring Via the Janka Test

The hardness of the wood actually varies based on several factors, such as the wood grain direction, and is measured through the Janka test. The Janka test measures the amount of force that is required in order to embed a 0.444 inch steel ball half a diameter into the hardwood flooring.

Measurements range from 660 to over 4,570 pounds-force (lbf); Quebracho wood, which has a rating of 4,570 lbf, has been noted as the hardest wood of them all. The hardness of the wood may influence overall stability, which involves the amount of expansion and contraction that can be expected. The hardness of the hardwood flooring will also determine its ability to withstand wear and denting.

In short, you should always consider the Janka rating of the hardwood flooring in order to determine whether the wood that you have chosen is appropriate for the amount of traffic that the room is expected to receive. Keep in mind that most experts recommend choosing harder wood if you will be placing lots of heavy furniture on top of it, in order to reduce the chances of denting.

Factors and Issues to Consider When Looking at Janka Rating

Although the Janka rating can be quite telling regarding the hardness of the hardwood flooring, you need to consider the thickness of the various layers of flooring that will be installed, as well as the flexibility of the wood.

If you have a thin wear layer overtop a top layer with a high Janka rating, your hardwood flooring may still dent, as the thin wear layer will telegraph the dent onto the softer core that lies underneath. As a result, although the layer with a high Janka rating may be left unaffected, you will still observe dent marks on the hardwood flooring. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you are aware of the thickness and the Janka rating of each layer of the flooring and the amount of support that each layer can offer overall.

The Janka rating of the flooring only looks at hardness, and not at flexibility or the ability of the wood to bounce back to its original shape and condition after it has been bent. Although some hardwood flooring with high Janka ratings may not dent at all, they may simply break. In comparison, some softer woods with a lower Janka rating may actually be able to return back to their original condition after they have been bent, so that you don't see any visible damages to the surfaces of the hardwood flooring.

Conclusion

Depending on the amount of traffic that the room will receive and the type of furniture that will be placed on the hardwood flooring, different types of wood may be considered as a more suitable option. Don't be fooled by the Janka test, as a high Janka rating may not necessarily indicate that the hardwood flooring is durable and capable of tolerating wear without denting or becoming damaged. The truth is, you'll have to look at many other variables and factors to make an informed decision. An expert wood flooring distributor should provide you with the facts that you need. You can also see this page to learn more about flooring options that are available in your area. 

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