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Douglas Fir Facts

Let’s talk about Doug fir’s Janka hardness

February 3, 2011 by | nell | There have been 0 comments

Douglas fir flooring gets called out sometimes on the topic of Janka hardness. We can’t help feeling the need to defend its reputation a bit. Before we get into it, a brief definition follows. Janka hardness is the amount of force it takes to push an 11.28 mm (.444”) steel ball into a plank of wood to half the ball’s diameter. In the U.S., numbers listed as a wood’s “Janka hardness rating” represent the pounds of force required to embed the steel ball halfway. It can also be measured in kilograms or newtons, depending on where you are.

Our elementary Janka illustration.

The U.S. Janka hardness rating for Douglas fir is 660. This puts it fairly low on the scale. Does that make Doug fir a bad choice for flooring? We don’t think so. It’s true that there are plenty of woods that are harder, but we don’t agree that makes a big difference over the lifetime of a floor. Douglas fir will last for decades with moderate maintenance (regular sweeping & an occasional cleaning). As with any wood, when the grain is tighter, the wood is harder.

Janka hardness is commonly used to determine a wood’s durability, especially in relation to flooring, but it is not an absolute determinant. The best way to prevent scratches, dents and general wear on fir flooring (or any wood flooring) is to apply a quality finish and keep the floor clean and well maintained. In other words, start with a high-quality finish, take your shoes off when you enter your home, and keep the floor clean. Nothing does damage on wood flooring quite like shoes (high heels are like tiny powerful hammers) and neglect.

What do you consider a good lifetime for a floor? Does 85 years work for you? My own house is that old, and still has its original Douglas fir floors. We refinished them ourselves when we moved in a year ago. They are still beautiful, and the previous owner of 30 years had dogs. We’ll keep those floors as long as we’re in the house.

Ultimately, choosing Douglas fir floors comes down to taste. What we like about it is how it looks and feels. The color is warm, and the wood wears beautifully. Even when it goes for a long time without being refinished it remains a durable floor. The Douglas-fir is a heroic tree conditioned to withstand harsh coastal, mountain, and coastal-mountain weather for hundreds of years. This endurance does translate to the quality of the lumber, and the quality of the flooring.


This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, History and Interest and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, janka, janka hardness

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