If you are thinking of redoing your home and installing hardwood floors, you want to make sure you are picking the perfect wood. But how do you know what wood floor is best for your home? There are a lot of things to consider from the color of the stain, to the style of the flooring pattern and let’s not forget the durability.

Having a durable hardwood floor is one of the most sought-after qualities when it comes to getting the biggest bang for your buck.

Durability yields a long-lasting beauty and value to your home or living space. Not to mention less maintenance and upkeep, especially if you have pets and or children.

While oak is the species most used in hardwood flooring in the United States, there are a number of other wood species, including the 33 listed on the National Wood Flooring Association website1 which are also available hardwood flooring options. They include more well-known species like Ash, Walnut, Teak, Mahogany, Cork, and Bamboo, as well as exotic entries like Bubinga, Cumaru (Brazilian Teak), Iroko, Merbeau and Sapele.

There are many factors to consider when buying hardwood flooring, but for those that have high traffic, pets whose nails can damage hardwood flooring, and children who track dirt and debris onto the floor, durability — or how well the floor will stand up to hard use — is one of the primary factors to consider.

Hardwood flooring professionals go by a universally accepted scale for rating hardwoods. It is called the Janka wood hardness scale. With this scale, hardwood species are rated based on resistance to indentation under a controlled force, as determined in laboratory testing. The higher the number on the Janka wood hardness scale, the harder and more scratch and dent resistant the wood will be when installed.

Douglas fir, for example, rates a 660 on the Janka scale, indicating that it is one of the softer wood species which would be less suitable for a floor that needs to stand up to hard use. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Brazilian Cherry, which has a Janka rating of 2350.3 Below is an abbreviated list of wood species and their Janka wood hardness scale ratings.

Douglas Fir – 660
Southern Yellow Pine – 870
Black Cherry – 950
Teak – 1000
Black Walnut – 1010
Heart Pine – 1225
Yellow Birch – 1260
Red Oak – 1290
American Beech – 1300
Ash – 1320
White Oak – 1360
Australian Cypress – 1375
Natural Bamboo – 1380
Hard Maple – 1450
Wenge – 1630
African Padauk – 1725
Hickory/Pecan – 1820
Purple Heart – 1860
Jarrah – 1910
Merbau – 1925
Santos Mahogany – 2200
Mesquite – 2345
Brazilian Cherry – 2350

The higher a wood ranks on the Janka scale, the more difficult it is to work with in terms of miling, cutting and nailing. Choosing a harder wood species often means that your investment will be greater in terms of the cost of labor to install the flooring. Oak, a standard hardwood flooring choice that is plentiful, will generally be the most economical, as well as durable, hardwood flooring choice.

Other factors besides wood species can dictate the durability of a floor over time. The finish on the floor is one factor in its longevity. Oil-based polyurethane and acrylic urethane, two of the most common finishes, both make the wood resin tougher and more scratch resistant.

Some manufacturers are now offering coatings for hardwood flooring which are infused with diamonds, or acrylic, claiming that these technological improvements can make the flooring up to two times harder than traditional hardwood. However, one of the biggest factors in how well a hardwood floor will age over time is still the care and maintenance that the floor receives.

Cameron the Sandman is a family owned hardwood flooring company that has been transforming homes and businesses throughout Michigan for over 80 years. Offering uncompromised quality and workmanship from the very start of every project, our professional wood flooring installers make every effort to ensure our customers are 100% satisfied. Our services include installation, repair, restoration, refinishing and more! Working with every species of wood, our flooring experts are here to help you choose the perfect hardwood for your home or business. Contact us today for a Consult!


1 Species Galley, National Wood Flooring Association
Link: https://www.woodfloors.org/species-gallery.aspx

3 What is the Janka Hardness Scale, www.builddirect.com
Link: https://www.builddirect.com/learning-center/flooring/janka-hardness-rating-scale/