Hardwood Mechanical similarities – What Do They Really average?

If you’re looking to install new hardwood floors, you’ve probably come across technical specifications having to do with the wood’s hardness, density, and other characteristics. These mechanical similarities may make perfect sense to hardwood industry insiders, but to the average homeowner they may in addition be written in Latin. Knowing what these measurements average, however, can help you better understand the kind of hardwood flooring you are interested in and whether it is appropriate for the room in which you intend to install it. Here are a few meaningful hardwood mechanical similarities, what they measure, and why they are important – all in plain English.

Hardness: Often called Janka hardness, this specification measures how resistant a wood species is to indentation. The test involves measuring the pounds of force required to embed a small ball (11.28 mm, or.444 in.) into the wood a distance one-half of its diameter (5.64 mm, or.222 in.). Janka hardness is measured in pounds, and the larger the number the harder the wood. for example, exotic Ipe has a Janka hardness of 3,680 lbs., while domestic Douglas Fir has a hardness of only 950 lbs. Hardness is important if you are installing the wood in a high-traffic area, or if the wood will sustain heavy furnishings, such as entertainment centers or pianos.

Modulus of burst (MOR): Also referred to simply as Strength, the MOR refers to the measure of force that is required to break the wood. In other words, it is the wood’s load-carrying capacity. The MOR is measured in pounds-per-square-inch, or psi. The higher the psi, the stronger the floor. Like hardness, MOR is important to know if you plan on placing heavy furnishings on your new floors.

Modulus of Expansion (MOE): Also called Stiffness, the MOE is a measurement of the wood’s stiffness or resistance to bending. MOE is also measured by pounds-per-square-inch and, because of the intense force required, is expressed in exponential terms. for example, the MOE of Douglas Fir is 1,950,000 psi, expressed as 1,950 1000 psi. The MOE is an important indicator of whether your floors will buckle. The higher the MOE, the less likely the wood will be stretched and buckle.

Density: The density of a hardwood is related to its weight and hardness, and should be considered similarly. Measured in KG per cubic meter (KG/m3), density tells you how much of the wood is packed into a cubic meter. The higher the density, the heavier and harder the wood will be. A higher density isn’t always better, especially if you are installing floors on a second or third story. Density is also a good indicator of a wood’s natural resistance to water and termites. The denser the wood, the harder it is for water and boring insects to get in.

Tangential Shrinkage: This character refers to how much a wood species tends to spread during the drying course of action. It is expressed as a percentage and applies only to the width of the plank or board. The shrinkage factor is a good indicator of how much your wood floors may warp or buckle – the lower the percentage, the more stable the floors.

Radial Shrinkage: Similar to tangential shrinkage, radial shrinkage tells you how much the wood species may spread by the thickness of the board. It is also expressed as a percentage. A low percentage is good, but what’s more important is the combination of these two measurements. The closer the two are to each other, the more stable the wood. for example, Maple has a tangential shrinkage of 9.9%, and a radial shrinkage of 4.8%. The differential is 5.1. Walnut, however, has a tangential shrinkage of 7.8% and a radial of 5.5%. already though Walnut’s radial shrinkage is higher than Maple’s, the differential of Walnut is 2.3 – much lower and consequently less likely to warp or buckle.

Many of these hardwood mechanical similarities can be confusing, and some industry insiders already struggle with the concepts. However, knowing the basics of what they measure and why they are important will help you pick the perfect hardwood species for your flooring or decking needs.

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