Does it matter how hard hardwood is? Most people consider the look, width and price of different woods when choosing flooring, but not many consider their firmness.
“Some wood looks great in delicate areas, but won’t do well in a busy home. Other wood stands up to just about anything. Know what you want before you shop,” advised Dean Dupre, who owns Champion Tile and Marble in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Wood flooring hardness is typically measure using the “Janka test.” A steel ball is pressed into a piece of wood forcefully, and the tester measures the amount of pressure needed to insert it. Soft wood, like pine, dents or caves under less pressure than harder woods require. “If you or the kids are prone to dropping things, a wood floor, particularly a softer wood floor, will dent on impact,” added Dupre.
Be wary of marketing generalizations. Today, most flooring options will claim to stand up to “general foot traffic,” but not all consider a busy home — with kids and pets constantly on the move — to fall under that definition. A handsome wood floor may deteriorate fast after the dog digs several gouges out of it and the kids ride their tricycles through the house for fun. For truly indestructible flooring, you should consider other materials entirely.
Wood flooring, no matter its natural hardness, also requires a finish. If that finish is breached, the wood underneath can start to deteriorate as moisture seeps in. All wood floors must be sanded and re-finished yearly.
Consider the location of the wood flooring installation and be aware of the traffic it will handle. Is the wood under consideration tough enough?