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wood species

and the janka hardness test

0.444" steel ball embedded halfway into wood sample

The Janka scale rates the relative hardness of wood. We have listed some of the most popular choices in wood flooring and included some more exotic species for your reference and comparison.

 

The higher the number the harder the wood. These ratings were determined using the Janka Hardness Test  which measures the side hardness measure of the  force required to embed a .444 inch steel ball to half its diameter into the wood. This is one of the best measures of the ability of wood species to withstand denting and wear. It is also a good indicator of how hard a species is to saw or nail.

 

This should only be used as a general guide when comparing various species of wood flooring. Depending on where the wood is harvested the results may vary. Plank construction and finish are also important factors when determining the durability and ease of maintenance of any wood floor.

American Cherry

Black Cherry develops a rich reddish-brown patina as it ages that’s frequently imitated with wood stains on other hardwoods such as Yellow Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera).

 

This aging process can be accelerated by exposing the wood (in a judicious manner) to direct sunlight.

janka: 950

Brazilian Cherry

Although it’s widely named “Brazilian Cherry,” (mostly among flooring sellers), it bears little relation to the domestic Cherry (Prunus serotina) that is found in the US, except perhaps that its natural color closely matches the  common stained color of domestic Cherry that has been aged/stained reddish-brown as seen on some interior furniture.

 

Jatoba is exceptionally stiff, strong, and hard—representing a great value for woodworkers seeking high-strength, low-cost lumber.

janka: 2,820

Douglas-Fir

janka: 620

Named after Scottish botanist David Douglas, (though the scientific name is in honor of Archibald Menzies, who first described the tree in the 1790s). Douglas-Fir is technically not a true Fir (Abies genus), but is in its own genus: Pseudotsuga.

 

The tree itself grows to be very large, and yields a large amount of usable lumber and veneer for plywood. It is an incredibly valuable commercial timber, widely used in construction and building purposes. The wood is very stiff and strong for its weight, and is also among the hardest and heaviest softwoods commercially available in North America.

Hickory

janka: 1,970

Hickory is among the hardest and strongest of woods native to the United States. On average, Hickory is denser, stiffer, and harder than either White Oak or Hard Maple. The wood is commonly used where strength or shock-resistance is important.

 

In addition to strength and hardness applications, the wood of Carya species also has a very high thermal energy content when burned, and is sometimes used as fuelwood for wood stoves. Additionally, Hickory is also used as charcoal in cooking meat, with the smoke imparting additional flavor to the food.

Maple

janka: 1,450

In tree form, Hard Maple is usually referred to as Sugar Maple, and is the tree most often tapped for maple syrup. Sugar Maple’s leaves (pictured below) are the shape that most people associate with maple leaves; they typically have either 5 or 7 lobes, with vivid autumn coloring ranging from yellow to purplish red.

 

Hard Maple ought to be considered the king of the Acer genus. Its wood is stronger, stiffer, harder, and denser than all of the other species of Maple commercially available in lumber form

Red Oak

janka: 1,220

Arguably the most popular hardwood in the United States, Red Oak is a ubiquitous sight in many homes. Even many vinyl/imitation wood surfaces are printed to look like Red Oak. Hard, strong, and moderately priced, Red Oak presents an exceptional value to woodworkers—which explains why it is so widely used in cabinet and furniture making.

Mahogany

janka: 1,440

There is a fair degree of color variation between boards of Santos Mahogany, ranging from a lighter golden brown to a darker purplish red or burgundy. The color tends to turn more red/purple with age.

 

Quartersawn sections can show a striped or ribbon pattern.

Walnut

janka: 1,010

It would be hard to overstate Black Walnut’s popularity among woodworkers in the United States. Its cooperative working characteristics, coupled with its rich brown coloration puts the wood in a class by itself among temperate-zone hardwoods. To cap it off, the wood also has good dimensional stability, shock resistance, and strength properties.

White Oak

janka: 1,350

White Oak is the state tree of Connecticut, Illinois, and Maryland. Connecticut’s state quarter was minted with a picture and inscription of a famous White Oak tree, The Charter Oak.

 

White Oak is strong, beautiful, rot-resistant, easy-to-work, and economical, representing an exceptional value to woodworkers. It’s no wonder that the wood is so widely used in cabinet and furniture making.

White Pine

janka: 380

Eastern White Pine is one of the most common and widely used timbers for construction lumber in the northeast United States. It’s one of the three primary commercial species of White Pine, with the other two—Sugar Pine and Western White Pine—being found on the west coast.

 

The long, straight trunks of Eastern White Pine were once prized for use as ship masts. The king of England’s aggravating habit of marking out and reserving all the biggest and best of these trees for use in his navy lead to the Pine Tree Riot of 1772, and played a role in the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.

 

Yellow Pine

janka: 700

Spruce Pine is one of the least common species of pine found in the southeastern United States, and is usually only found in scattered groups or as isolated trees within a mixed forest.

 

Southern Yellow Pine is used for heavy construction, such as: bridges, beams, poles, railroad ties, etc. It’s also used for making plywood, wood pulp, and veneers.

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hardwood floors & supplies

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MADISON
hardwood floors & supplies