Does Maple Wood Darken Over Time?

does maple wood darken over time

Maple wood is useful in making cabinetry, flooring, kitchen accessories, and many other high-end furniture. High durability and strength make maple wood better for long-term use.

The white with reddish-brown hues of maple wood adds a more aesthetic look to the furniture. But will the color last long? Many people are wondering, Does Maple wood darken over time?

Here’s what I found out:

Yes, Maple wood will darken over time. The very bright and light color of maple wood will slowly turn into dark color over the years. It turns into a deep golden honey color tone above its original bright white with reddish-brown hues with exposure to sunlight and oxygen. The same thing happened to the wooden furniture made of maple.

But there’s a lot more we need to learn about the maple wood color change.

So, in this article, I’ll dig into How maple wood darken over time? how to prevent the wood from darkening and protect our furniture with proper care and much more related to maple wood darkening.

Just keep reading to learn more!

Why Does Maple Wood Darken Over Time?

Several factors cause the darkening of maple wood over time. Such as,

  • Exposure to UV rays in sunlight
  • Exposure to Oxygen in the air
  • Exposure to heat
  • Due to moisture

Among the above three, exposure to air and sunlight are the main reasons for the darkening of maple wood.

The rate of darkening depends on the quality of the maple you have. Mostly, during the first couple of years, the darkening process will naturally occur, and you won’t notice.

But eventually, the light and bright white color will be gone and the whole wood will turn into deep golden honey color.

This happens because of the UV rays that are naturally included in sunlight.

If your maple wood furniture is kept outside the darkening will happen fast than indoor furniture due to continuous exposure to direct sunlight.

Maple wood is highly sensitive and easily reacts with sunlight that results in color change. The reason for this is because polymerization of polyphenols of maple wood with UV rays in sunlight.

This polymerization process leads wood color from light to dark over time.

Another main reason for the darkening of maple wood and its furniture is due to oxidation of the wood with oxygen in the air. There are so many chemicals and oils inside the maple wood.

So, those chemicals continuously react with atmospheric oxygen in the air. This will cause the darkening of the maple wood over time.

Moisture will also do the same as oxygen in the air. They can go through the porous structures of the wood and make the reactions happen. Those results darken the maple wood.

Ultimately darkening over time happen not only for maple wood but also for other popular woods like cherry, oak, and other hardwoods as well.

Even though most woods are darkened over time, Walnut wood lightens over time.

How Does Maple Furniture Change Over Time?

The darkening of maple wood is a completely natural process and it’s hard to avoid.

So, if the maple raw wood darken over time, the same goes with the furniture made of maple wood. They also will darken over years.

The color change of maple wood furniture from bright and light white with reddish-brown hues will dramatically change to deep golden honey color.

This can easily detect if your furniture has been kept outside for a long period. direct exposure to the UV rays of the sunlight over a long time will change the coloring chemicals of maple wood and cause deep golden honey color.

Also, the level of exposure will increase the speed of the color shift from light to dark.

When the surface of the furniture interacts with UV light and air, the darkening process is set in motion.

This darkening process can only stop if you live in a dark cave with an oxygen-free environment. So, that’s not possible.

Even though we cannot stop the natural darkening process, we can delay it by keeping our furniture away from touching the direct sunlight.

I have experienced the darkening of maple wood furniture practically. I have left one of my old maple cabinets for outside more than 2 years without using it. These are the things that I have noticed recently,

The whole outside of the cabinet was already darkened to deep honey color all over. But when I look at the inside of the cupboard and under the desk and inside drawers, they still have that bright light white color.

This is a clear example of how maple furniture changes its color from light white to dark deep honey color due to long-term exposure to the sunlight.

Color changes in maple wood furniture tend to be dramatic in the first few years. If you’re willing to use maple wood for flooring, once they are installed, probably you have nothing to do to protect them from direct sunlight. Especially when the area is widely opened.

The best protection you can get is by doing better finishing and applying a quality coat over the whole surface before it is placed.

Wood TypeBefore exposure to SunlightAfter exposing to Sunlight
MapleLight bright white with reddish-brown huesDark deep golden honey color
CherryLight straw colorDeep red color
MahoganyLighter toneDeep rich tone

As you can see, Furniture that is made of light color woods gets darker over time. Except for Walnut.

How to Keep Maple from Darkening?

Unfortunately, according to my years of experience with woodworking, there is no direct solution for the color change of maple over years.

But there are some useful steps you can follow to reduce the color change significantly by minimizing the exposure to direct sunlight. Most of them are easy and affordable to do. Such as,

  • Avoid placing maple furniture in humid areas
  • Avoid placing maple furniture surfaces to direct sunlight
  • Stop furniture from continuous heat and moisture touching
  • Keep your maple woodworks away from fungus areas

Here I have listed down steps you can take to stop the darkening of maple, which are useful for any maple wood application.

1. Apply Finisher that includes UV inhibitors

By stopping hitting UV rays on the surface of the maple wood, the darkening process can be prevented, and you’ll be able to keep its light color for a long time.

In order to stop hitting UV rays on the wood surface, we can apply a finisher that contains UV inhibitors as ingredients. The best finishers that contain UV inhibitors available in the market are,

  • Lacquer
  • Linseed oil

Those finishers are equipped with anti UV agents, which can stop UV rays from going through the finishing coat. By applying one from above two as a finisher for your next maple woodwork you’ll be able to keep the wood from darkening.

Once you apply the linseed oil to the maple wood surface, it will penetrate through the pores and small holes inside the wood. This will not only help to protect the surface from direct sunlight but also give some sort of air proofing and waterproofing as well.

But the drying time is so high.

Among lacquer and linseed oil, I highly recommend using lacquer because it dries quickly and the application is easy compared to linseed oil.

If your maple wood furniture is for outdoor use, apply a minimum of 4 coats of lacquer, otherwise, 2 coats are well enough for interior furniture.

2. Move Furniture by Avoiding Shadowing

By preventing shadowing and rearranging maple wood furniture from time to time you’ll be able to stop them from darkening. By doing this the amount of sunlight hitting a specific area of the wooden surface will change occasionally.

This will equalize the UV rays exposure and reduce the darkening of maple and also spread out the dark color by giving a consistent color all over the woodwork.

This prevents the furniture from getting light and dark patches and helps to give a uniform color all over the surface and reduce the weirdness of random color patches.

3. Apply Window Films

By applying a window film to the rooms you’ll be able to stop getting UV rays inside through sunlight and it will protect your maple wood furniture from hitting UV and help to prevent the darkening of maple over years.

I highly recommend applying thin multi-layer films to the windows apart from single-layer films.

So, as you can see the problem, Does maple wood darken over time is spread through a wide range of areas and we still cannot see a direct solution for this issue.

The only solutions that I have discussed above only can slow down the process.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Does Maple Wood Darken Over Time?

In this article, we took a look at why maple and other hardwoods do color changing over time under direct sunlight and oxygen and how we can slow down the process.

As a woodworker, worked with many times of woods, my advice is to whatever wood you use for woodworking projects, furniture, carpentry, flooring, and other tasks always make sure to do a proper finishing.

Because a proper finishing can not only stop the darkening of the wood but also gives good weather resistance and increase the durability as well.

But I have to say, for some woodworking applications, maple is more attractive when they age.

If you’re a person who works with nature, not against nature, you won’t much bother about the color changing of maple wood.

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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