The Janka hardness test measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. It measures the force required to embed an 11.28 millimetres (0.444 in) diameter steel ball halfway into a sample of wood. This method leaves a hemispherical indentation with an area of 200 mm2. A common use of Janka hardness ratings is to determine whether a species is suitable for use as flooring.
The hardness of wood varies with the direction of the wood grain. Testing on the surface of a plank, perpendicular to the grain, is said to be of "side hardness". Testing the cut surface of a stump is called a test of "end hardness". Side hardness may be further divided into "radial hardness" and "tangential hardness", although the differences are minor and often neglected.
The results are stated in various ways, which can lead to confusion, especially when the actual units employed are often not attached. Overall, the resulting measure is always one of force. In the United States, the measurement is in pounds-force (lbf). In Sweden it is in kilograms-force (kgf), and in Australia, either in newtons (N) or kilonewtons (kN). This confusion is greatest when the results are treated as units, for example "660 Janka".
The Janka hardness test results tabulated below were done in accordance with ASTM D 1037-12 testing methods. Lumber stocks tested range from 1" to 2" thick. The tabulated Janka hardness numbers are an average. There is a standard deviation associated with each species, but these values are not given. No testing was done on actual flooring. Other factors affect how flooring performs: the type of core for engineered flooring such as pine, HDF, poplar, oak, birch; grain direction and thickness; floor or top wear surface, etc. The chart is not to be considered an absolute; it is meant to help people understand which woods are harder than others.