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How hard is hardwood? The Janka scale

The Janka hardness test measures the hardness of wood. It measures the force required to embed a 0.444 inch steel ball into wood to half the ball’s diameter. It’s a good measurement technique to determine the relative hardness across hardwoods.

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Hardness of hardwood janka scale - dark hardwood

Red oak is used as the standard and its hardness is 1,290 on the Janka scale. White oak is just a bit harder at 1,360. Bamboo is a bit harder at 1,380 (see my past blog on bamboo flooring – is it hard or soft?) and maple a bit harder than that at 1,450.


But, if you shift toward the exotic hardwoods from South America, the woods are on a different wavelength. The popular Brazilian Cherry is 2,350 – almost twice as hard as red oak. And, Brazilian walnut comes in at 3,684 – nearly triple the hardness of red oak.


Below is a listing of many hardwoods so you can see the range of hardness. You’ll also note that most of the pines (which were used a LONG time ago) are low. They are rather soft and aren’t even considered hardwoods. They can dent very easily.


Also note that there are some woods such as “cherry” and “walnut” that vary greatly based on their country of origin. Brazilian Cherry and Brazilian Walnut are very HARD; conversely American Cherry and American Walnut are very SOFT and will also dent very easily. So, if you are considering cherry or walnut, be sure to investigate further.

•	Hardwood flooring hardness scale


Tree Species Hardness
Brazilian Walnut/Lapacho/Ipe 3,684
Brazilian Teak/Cumaru/Brazilian Chestnut 3,540
Brazilian Cherry/Jatoba 2,350
Santos Mahogany/Cabrueva 2,200
Merbau 1,925
Brazilian Oak/Amendoim 1,912
Tigerwood 1,850
Hickory 1,820
Rosewood 1,780
Kempas 1,710
Wenge 1,630
Zebrawood 1,575
Timborana 1,570
Sapele 1,510
Hard Maple 1,450
Natural Bamboo 1,380
White Oak 1,360
Ash 1,320
Red Oak 1,290
Yellow Birch 1,260
Heart Pine 1,225
Peruvian Walnut 1,080
American Walnut/Black Walnut 1,010
American Cherry 950
Cedar 900
Southern Yellow Pine – Long leaf 870
Southern Yellow Pine – Short leaf 690
Douglas Fir 660


Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors

2 thoughts on “How hard is hardwood? The Janka scale”

    1. Oh gosh, somehow I missed this question. My apologies on the delayed response. They are about the same. Brazilian hickory is just slightly harder (1810) on the janka scale than Amendoim (1,712).

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