Blog posts of '2018' 'January'

Do Janka Ratings Matter When Choosing a Floor?: Truths You Need to Know About the Janka Scale

What is the Janka Scale?

The Janka Scale was developed as a way to standardize the hardness of different wood species. This allows consumers to have an idea of how well a floor might hold up to denting, scratching, and other wear. A Janka rating is calculated by measuring the amount of force it takes to embed a 0.444 inch steel ball halfway into a solid piece of hardwood.

 

How Important Are Janka Ratings When Choosing a Floor?

While Janka ratings can be helpful for determining the durability of a solid hardwood floor, don’t choose your floor based solely off these ratings. A higher Janka rating does not equal a higher quality floor. Additionally, no wood is completely indestructible—even the hardest species can scratch or dent.

When choosing a floor, consider aesthetics and price as well as species. A hardwood floor is a big investment for your home, so you want to choose a floor you will love, not just the hardest species! The finish of a floor can also improve its durability despite its Janka rating. For example, Armstrong’s Performance Plus line is infused with acrylic, making species like Walnut and Cherry harder than they would be normally.

If you have kids or pets in your home, then you may want to give a durable species more consideration. However, keep in mind that how well you care for your floor after it’s installed will also have an impact on how well it looks over time. A softer floor such as Black Walnut (Janka rating of 1010) could potentially last longer than a harder floor such as White Ash (1320) if the former is cared for carefully while the latter is cared for poorly.

Armstrong Performance Plus Walnut in Shell White

 

What is a “Good” or “Bad” Janka Rating?

Red Oak is a popular hardwood choice and is considered the industry median for hardness on the Janka scale, with a rating of 1260. Species with a lower rating are “softer” woods (ex. Black Walnut, 1010), while species with a higher rating are “harder” woods (ex. White Ash, 1320).

However, a “softer” or “harder” species isn’t necessarily “worse” or “better.” The purpose of the Janka scale is simply to help consumers see which species resists scratches and dents more than others. A Black Walnut floor might be the perfect choice for one household, while a White Ash floor might be the more appropriate choice for another.

However, the species of wood is only one factor in the overall durability of a floor and how well it will look over time. Other factors to consider include:

  • The type of finish
  • The floor’s construction (engineered vs. solid)
  • The traffic level in the home (kids, pets, etc.)
  • How well the floor is cared for and maintained

You won’t typically find hardwood with a “bad” ranking because industry standards require that wood species used for flooring must be durable enough for this purpose. Extremely soft and flimsy woods like Balsa (ranking of 100), for example, are reserved for crafts or furniture. What makes a species a “good” or “bad” choice for your home really depends on your personal needs and preferences.

 

Where Do Engineered Floors Rank on the Janka Scale?

Engineered floors are an exception to the Janka scale. Unlike a solid hardwood, engineered hardwood is constructed by layering softer wood under a veneer of the chosen wood species. Because of these different layers of wood materials, which vary across flooring brands, it’s difficult to determine an industry standard of hardness for engineered hardwoods using the Janka scale.

If you are shopping for an engineered floor, don’t focus on Janka ratings. While the Janka ratings may give you some idea of how well the top veneer of an engineered hardwood may hold up against denting and scratching, you need to remember the test was performed on a solid piece of wood. Therefore, this rating will not be completely accurate when applied to an engineered hardwood of the same species.

Even if the Janka scale can’t be used to accurately measure the hardness of an engineered hardwood, this does not make engineered hardwood a “bad” or “less durable” choice. Engineered hardwood actually has wonderful advantages over solid floors:

  • Because of their layered construction, engineered hardwood expands and contracts less when exposed to humidity and temperature fluctuations, making for easier maintenance.
  • Engineered hardwood is more resistant to moisture, and can be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, and over concrete where solid floors are not recommended.
  • Engineered floors are less expensive than solid hardwood because only the top veneer is the chosen wood species.

 

Armstrong Performance Plus Low Gloss Maple in Mist Forest 

 

How Do I Choose a Durable Hardwood Floor?

If you are looking at a solid hardwood, you may want to take the Janka rating into a little more consideration if you intend to install the floor in a high traffic area or if your home has kids or pets. (Remember, Janka ratings don’t apply to engineered hardwoods because they are constructed differently).

Red Oak is considered the industry median for flooring hardness with a Janka rating of 1260. If you are looking for extra durability, consider Red Oak or a species that ranks higher on the Janka scale. Readily available and popular species include White Oak (1360), Hard Maple (1450), and Hickory (1820).

If you want a species that’s even harder, look into exotics such as Santos Mahogany (2200), Brazilian Cherry (2350), and Brazilian Walnut (3680). Hardwood is priced based on the availability of the species, not it’s Janka rating, so exotic species will run at a higher price tag.   

No matter what type of wood species you choose, however, your floor’s finish will also play an important role in its durability. The finish is your floor’s first line of defense against dents and scratches and will bear most of the wear and tear from daily use. Whether you’re considering a solid or an engineered hardwood, finish will be a huge factor in overall durability.

Durable finishes to look out for include: aluminum oxide, urethane/polyurethane, and acid-cured finishes. Certain flooring brands might also have specially developed finishes for their products, such as Armstrong’s Performance Plus and Diamond 10 lines. When in doubt, ask your flooring retailer which hardwood products have durable finishes to suit your needs. 

Still have questions about hardwood floors? We're here to help! Get in touch and we'll be happy to answer your flooring questions!

Flooring Spotlight: Bella Cera Hardwood

Who is Bella Cera?

Bella Cera is a manufacturer of premium hardwood. Their trained artisans craft every plank by hand using traditional methods to create stunning floors in modern fashions. Despite the painstaking care that goes into creating these high quality products, Bella Cera’s prices won’t break the bank. Bella Cera explains, “Our goal is to make it affordable for you to own a wood floor that’s truly a work of hand-made art.”

You can see Bella Cera’s passion for old-world craftsmanship in their hand-scraped floors. Their artisans use a variety of tools and techniques to scrape each plank by hand for an authentic look, whereas many manufacturers use machines for a “hand-scraped” appearance that ends up subpar and repetitive.

With Bella Cera’s process, “There are no machines, no assembly lines, no large quantities being pushed through quickly to save time and money. Each flooring plank is individually inspected for its unique patters, gran and colorations, and hand-carved and scraped to complement its beautiful marks of individuality. No two floor boards are the same!”

 

 Left: Hand scraped hardwood from Bella Cera. Right: Machine scraped hardwood.

If you're looking for a hardwood floor for your home we highly recommend Bella Cera. Bella Cera's products are some of our top-selling hardwoods, and with their combination of beauty and quality it's easy to see why. Here are 4 of the most popular collections customers love!

 

1. The Villa Bocelli Collection

  

 Left: Villa Bocelli Mombello. Right: Villa Bocelli Turate.

Features:

  • Engineered French Oak or Hickory
  • 4 distinct saw mark textures
  • 3 plank widths of 4”, 5”, and 6”
  • Stunning color variation
  • Low gloss finish

Why We Love It:

The contrast of light and dark color variation combined with the rugged saw mark texture creates a unique, reclaimed look unlike any other hardwood product currently on the market.

View the Full Collection!

 

2. The Tissino Collection

 
Left: Tissino Briscoe. Right: Tissino Waggoner.    

Features:

  • Engineered Hickory
  • 4 distinct saw mark textures
  • 3 plank widths of 4”, 5”, and 6”
  • Stunning color variation
  • Low gloss finish

Why We Love It:

Similar to the Villa Bocelli collection, the color variation and saw mark texture makes this floor stand out. The Tissino collection features a color palette suitable for a more timeless, contemporary look.

 View the Full Collection! 

 

3. The Bergamo Collection

  

Left: Bergamo Mist. Right: Bergamo Coppertone.

Features:

  • Engineered French Oak or Hickory
  • 2-Tone dual stain
  • 6” and 7.5” wide planks
  • Boards up to 72” long
  • Distressed, wire brushed surface
  • Matte finish

Why We Love It:

The Bergamo collection uses a dual staining process to create two separate hues that play off each other for a stunning effect without the stains blending together. This technique creates unique, layered shades you won’t find anywhere else.

 View the Full Colleciton!

 

4. The Bernini Collection

  

Left: Bernini Santoni. Right: Bernini Lawrence.

Features:

  • Engineered or solid French Oak
  • Saw mark “snake skin” texture
  • Distressed surface
  • 5” and 6.5” wide planks
  • Boards up to 72” long
  • Super low gloss finish

Why We Love It:

The Bernini collection uses saw marks to create a captivating “snake skin” texture. Combined with a palette of trendy colors, these floors effortlessly capture modern elegance.

View the Full Collection!

Should You Refinish or Replace Your Hardwood Floor?

If your hardwood floors are looking shabby, it might be time for a fresh look. But should you refinish your floors or replace them completely? Here’s what you should consider when making your decision.

When It’s Best to Refinish Your Hardwood Floor

If your hardwood floor has minimal wear and you want to restore it to its former shine or change the color of the stain, then refinishing the floor is likely the best option. If you have a few boards that have damaged spots from water or pet accidents these can easily be replaced during the refinishing process and stained to match the color you’ve chosen.

Refinishing your floor is also a good option if you’re on a tighter budget. The cost of replacing a floor will often run higher. If you decide to replace your floor, you will need to consider the cost of having the old floor removed as well as the cost of the new materials and installation. If you want to save on labor costs, it’s easier to refinish a hardwood floor yourself rather than trying to install it. This is because hardwood installation requires specialized skills and knowledge.

Above: A solid hardwood floor can be refinished many times.

When It’s Best to Replace Your Hardwood Floor

While refinishing your floor allows you to change the color if you desire, you may want to give your space an entirely different feel. If you want to make significant aesthetic changes to your floor such as the species of the wood, plank width, or the layout of the planks, then you will need to replace the floor entirely. For example, if your floor is laid in a parquet pattern and you want the planks to be arranged in a herringbone pattern instead, the entire floor will need to be pulled up and replaced.

Another instance when it’s better to replace your floor is if the hardwood is old and has extensive damage that refinishing won’t fix, such as warping. In some cases, an older floor might also have been previously refinished many times to the point where the wood is no longer thick enough to be refinished again.

Finally, you may not want to deal with the mess and hassle of refinishing a floor. Refinishing can take up to four or five days, and during this time you can’t walk or place furniture on the floor. The refinishing process will also create a lot of dust from sanding down the floors as well as strong odors from stain and sealers. On the other hand, a new floor can be installed much more quickly and with less mess. It will also cause less of a disturbance in your home since you are free to walk on the floor as soon as it’s laid down.

Thinking about replacing your old hardwood floor? Browse our selection of hardwoods!