Generally acknowledged as the hardest wood, lignum vitae (Guaiacum sanctum and Guaiacum officinale) measures in at 4,500 pounds-force (lbf) on the Janka scale.
What is the hardest wood in North America? Of locally available woods, Black Ironwood is typically the strongest type of wood you can find in America. It's found in Florida and has a 3,660 lbf (16,280 N) Janka rating. Other strong North American woods include species of hickory, maples, oaks, walnuts, and beeches.
- Average dried weight: 79 lbs/ft3 (1,260 kg/m3)
- Janka hardness: 4,390 lbf (19,510 N)
- Modulus of elasticity: 2,481,000 lbf/in2 (17.11 GPa)
Hardness and Grain
On the Janka hardness scale -- a scale that ranks wood for hardness, hickory is the hardest of all domestic hardwoods, ranking at 1,820. Hard maple ranks 1,450, while red oak ranks 1,290. Poplar ranks 540 on the low end of the scale. Grain patterns also indicate the wood's hardness.
Pine does have a stiff quality about it, but the wood doesn't offer as much strength and resistance to wear as oak wood does. Pine can dent and scratch easily. If you're planning to keep the piece indefinitely, oak is likely a better choice.
Is Mahogany Stronger than Pine? Mahogany is nearly 70% stronger than white Pine. But yellow Pine is slightly stronger than Mahogany. Surprisingly, even though Pine wood is considered a softwood, its strength can compete well against the strongest hardwoods like Mahogany.
Maple is among the harder wood species, with a 1450 rating on the Janka wood hardness chart. As one of the densest wood species, Maple is ideal for high-traffic areas. Oak is slightly less hard – White Oak has a 1360 rating and Red Oak a 1290 rating.
When compared to wood, bamboo fiber is 2-3 times stronger than timber. Maple wood is one of the densest and strongest hardwoods, yet bamboo is stronger while still being quite a bit lighter.
Cedar wood projects typically last more than 20 years without splitting, rotting, or warping. White oak and teak are also long lasting woods that are resistant to decay, twisting, cracking, or warping.
The main differences
Walnut is rated at a 1010 on the Janka Hardness Scale. European Oak is a 1360 on the same scale. This means that Oak is more durable than Walnut and will stand up better against constant use and daily wear and tear. Walnut isn't the best flooring choice for high-traffic areas of the home.
Oak is a hardwood originating from Quercus of the beech family, Fagaceae, while birch is a hardwood originating from the genus Betula. The main difference between oak and birch is that birch is much harder than oak.
As you may have guessed by now, maple wood is strong! In fact, maple wood is second in hardness only to hickory wood. This makes it a natural choice for many, many different types of flooring. Maple is the second most popular choice for hardwood floors in the United States, just behind Oak.
Cedar is generally regarded as the stronger and more durable of these two woods. It does not need any special treatment and stands up well to the elements, with a low risk of warping and shrinking. Pine, on the other hand, is more at risk of buckling, warping, and shrinking.
Redwood – It's one of the lightest and most durable woods used for building. It's one of the many reasons why Redwood is such a popular building material. Heartwood redwood grades are the most durable.
In general, bamboo falls at about 1,200 to 1,400 on the Janka Hardness Scale, which means it's a little harder than oak and ash. Some manufacturers claim the product is 12 percent harder than North American maple, but that's hard to say.
Bamboo's greatest weakness is its poor durability in its natural state. The material attracts insects and fungus, which cause decay, and untreated bamboo structures don't last more than a few years.
Not only are bamboo shoots edible but they are low in fat and calories, easy to grow and harvest, as well as containing loads of fiber and potassium. They have a very mild taste but they accept the flavors of other foods easily and can blend into almost any cuisine.
How strong is poplar compared to oak? Both poplar and oak are hardwoods (both are deciduous trees). Poplar, though, is among the softest of the hardwoods, whereas oak is among the harder.
Hardness and Durability
As the hardest domestic wood, hickory obviously outshines both red and white oak in terms of durability. Softer woods may dent or scratch beneath careless footfalls, but hickory is more likely to withstand the abuse. This makes it an ideal choice in homes with a lot of activity and traffic.
Black walnut ranks third in hardness - about 20% below red oak. Cherry is another 5% or so softer than walnut. Wood hardness is certainly something you'll want to take into consideration as you make your species selection.
Mahogany is a hardwood, it is harder and more durable than oak, but softer than maple. Mahogany is used in many decorative settings because of the popularity and elegance of the wood. Naturally, Mahogany is a darker wood, and it accepts stain very well. The grain is what makes mahogany truly unique.
Cedar is durable and strong– Western Red Cedar is lightweight but stable and is less likely to crack and warp than even treated lumber. Western Red Cedar contains oils that act as preservatives to deter insect attack and decay. This same oil gives cedar it's distinctive smell.
Advantages of Pine Trees
Pressure-treated pine lumber is substantially less expensive than redwood. While sealing every two years is recommended, pine will not turn an unattractive blackish-gray color like redwood can over time if not sealed. It is stronger than redwood even though both are classified as soft woods.