What is the JANKA Hardness Scale?

What is the JANKA Hardness Scale?
By Patricia Stephens

When shopping for furniture, you probably don't ask about the wood's JANKA rating. While it's important information, it's especially significant if you are searching for furniture or flooring that will last a few decades. Here's why.

The Janka Hardness Scale (JANKA) is an industry measurement that determines the hardness of a wood. It is calcuated by measuring the force needed to embed a small steel ball at least halfway into a sample. The ball crashes into the wood with a force of 2,000 pounds. The higher the pound-force rating, the harder and more durable the wood.


                                        Oak Dining Room Set of a table with 4 chairs


The JANKA helps consumers choose the right type of wood for their project based on what they'll be using it for and how durable it needs to be. JANKA ranges from 0 lbf (pound per force) for Balsa wood (one of the softest woods) to 5,000 lbf for Brazilian Walnut (one of the hardest.) Most hardwoods from North America fall between 1,000 lbf to 2,000 lbf. Consumers need to understand that the rating of a particular wood shows the likelihood of it becoming dented or scratched. It does not predict whether or not the wood will crack or break.

A few common examples of different woods and their common uses include:

1. Yellow Pine, soft wood, JANKA score of 870
2. Douglas Fir, soft wood, JANKA score of 710
3. White Pine, soft wood, JANKA score of 380
4. White Oak, hard wood, JANKA score of 1,360
5. Red Oak, hard wood, JANKA score of 1,290
6. Yellow Poplar, hard wood, JANKA score of 540

As helpful as it might be for customers, the Janka hardness scale rating should not be the only factor determining a purchase. Stability, durability, and aesthetics should also be considered.

Oak for Less is family-owned and operated, not a national chain. When you contact us, you don't speak with someone from a call center; you get personal service and the confidence that you are dealing directly with the owners. Customer happiness is our goal. Originally opening in 1993, Oak For Less® provides our customers superior customer service and low discounted prices on beautiful furniture. To learn more, visit us at Oak for Less, 1660 S. Alma School Rd., #100, Mesa, Arizona, or call us at (480) 962-9930.