Curious About Maple Wood Cabinetry?

Maple seems to have taken oak’s place in many people’s hearts, whether it be for furniture, cabinetry, or even flooring. Fine furniture makes great use of maple, as do high quality cabinetry lines. Maple can even be found being used for bowling lanes and bowling pins. Maple is a very large genus of trees, with over 132 species. Included in this genus is the very tree that brings you maple syrup! And as it just so happens, the same tree that brings you maple syrup is the same species that provides you with hard maple, used in fine woodworking. It’s important to not confuse hard maple with soft maple, as there are important differences between the two.

Soft Maple vs. Hard Maple

Hard maple consists of just one maple species: Acer Saccharum, also known as sugar maple. This is the same tree that brings you maple syrup. Soft maple, on the other hand, consists of multiple species of maple. That is to say that soft maple is an umbrella term that excludes hard maple. Hard maple grows slower than soft maple. This makes for tighter grains, heavier weight, and harder density. This is why hard maple is used in flooring. The industry standard used to compare wood hardness is known as the Janka hardness scale. Using this, we can compare soft maple to hard maple. Hard maple’s Janka hardness score is 1450, whereas soft maple boasts a hardness score of 950. Soft maple will have more varying color than hard maple, often having multiple hues such as grey, red, or brown. Soft maple will typically be darker than hard maple, as seen below.

soft maple versus hard maple grain

Soft Maple Top, Hard Maple Bottom

What Type Of Maple Is Used In Cabinetry?

Any quality manufacturer will be using hard maple in their woodworking. The exception is when the maple in question is going to be painted over, in which case paint grade maple, or soft maple, will be used. This is due to the lack of need for a high quality grain exposure alongside color unity needed when staining a wood as opposed to painting it. The paint will cover up any color blemishes found in soft grain, as well as the lesser quality grain. This saves the cabinet fabricator money due to the cheaper cost of soft wood when compared to hard wood. In our experience, this saves the customer money as well.

So, What Does Maple Look Like?

Maple naturally has an off-white hue with mineral deposits that can give it a reddish-brown color to it. Its grain is typically uniform throughout, with little variation. However, exceptions exist, and some unique grain patterns can emerge. As far as wood variation goes though, maple is one of the safest options. Part of the excitement that comes with ordering custom cabinetry is that you never know what grain patterns you will be getting; your grain patterns will be entirely unique to you and your home.

what maple looks like

Natural Maple With A Flat Sheen

maple cabinetry variation

Natural Maple With A Satin Sheen

maple wood grain looks like this

Stained Maple

maple cabinetry looks like this

Stained Maple

You cannot go wrong with either type of maple. They both make an excellent place in anyone’s home. We recommend going with a hard maple when the use is in flooring or a non-painted end product. Hard maple will be more resistant to dings, as its name implies. We hope that we have answered some of your questions. We encourage you to reach out to us if you are in the Greater Saint Louis Area and are ready to embark on a home remodeling project! We would love to hear about your project.

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