Is Maple A Hardwood? What You Need to Know!

is maple a hardwood

Maple wood is a white color wood with some reddish-brown hues with high durability and strength. Maple wood is a popular wood type that is commonly used for high-end furniture, kitchen accessories, musical instruments, and flooring. Most people tend to go for hardwoods because of their exceptional qualities. Likewise, I have also wondered, Is Maple a hardwood?

Yes, Maple is a hardwood. Both Hard Maple and Soft Maple are incredibly hard and dense woods with a higher hardness rating of 1,450 lbf (6,450 N) for Hard Maple and 950 lbf (4,226 N) for Soft Maple. Maple wood is harder than any other softwoods and most of the hardwoods as well.

But this isn’t exactly a yes or no question.

So, in this article, we’re exploring the world of Maple wood and looking at is Maple a hardwood, how hard is Maple, Maple wood characteristics, differences between Hard Maple and Soft Maple, and many more.

Most importantly, I’ll answer frequently asked questions about how the hardness of Maple wood’s important applications like flooring is as well.

Let’s jump in!

How Hard Is Maple?

Maple wood is harder than any other softwood and most of the hardwoods as well. According to the Janka hardness scale, both Hard Maple and Soft Maple have higher ratings than most other types of woods.

  • Hard Maple has a 1,450 lbf (6,450 N) hardness rating
  • Soft Maple has a 950 lbf (4,226 N) hardness rating

Other popular wood types like poplar, cherry, pine have the following hardness rating which are lower values than Maple wood.

  • Poplar has a 540 lbf (2,402 N) hardness rating
  • Cherry has a 950 lbf (4,226 N) hardness rating
  • Pine has a 380 lbf (1,690 N) hardness rating

As you can see the hardness of Maple wood, especially Hard Maple has a significantly higher value of hardness than many other kinds of wood. This is why Maple wood is considered a hardwood.

Maple wood is hard and heavy with great strength properties. Maple wood has a diffused porous structure with small pores. The diameter of pores is so small and therefore the number of fiber units in a unit volume is high. Therefore, the density of Maple wood is also high. When the density is high the hardness of the wood will also get higher.

Maple wood mostly has a straight wood grain pattern. But sometimes it can be wavy. The uniform texture and straight grain of Maple wood will increase the appearance as well as the strength of the wood.

Maple wood has a very distinct ring structure. The diffuse pores structure with uniform size arrangement of pores across the entire growing ring and the ring structure are main reasons for Maple become so hard and dense.

Soft Maple also has higher hardness than most of the popular wood types. So, don’t get fooled by its name. Soft Maple is harder than black cherry and black Walnut which are high-grade woods.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, Hard Maple has a hardness rating of 1,450 lbf (6,450 N) and Soft Maple has a hardness rating of 950 lbf (4,226 N) which are quite high values.

Here’re the Janka hardness ratings of all the popular wood types to get a clear idea about how Hard Maple wood is.

Wood speciesHardness value
Brazilian Walnut3,684 lbf (16,390 N)
Red Mahogany, Turpentine2,697 lbf (12,000 N)
Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba2,350 lbf (10,500 N)
Golden Teak2,330 lbf (10,400 N)
Purpleheart1,860 lbf (8,300 N)
Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood1,820 lbf (8,100 N)
Rosewood1,780 lbf (7,900 N)
African Padauk1,725 lbf (7,670 N)
Wenge, Red Pine, Hornbeam1,630 lbf (7,300 N)
Hard Maple1,450 lbf (6,450 N)
White Oak1,360 lbf (6,000 N)
Ash (White)1,320 lbf (5,900 N)
American Beech1,300 lbf (5,800 N)
Red Oak (Northern)1,290 lbf (5,700 N)
Yellow Birch / Baltic birch1,260 lbf (5,600 N)
Heart pine1,225 lbf (5,450 N)
Teak1,155 lbf (5,140 N)
Black Walnut, North American Walnut1,010 lbf (4,500 N)
Cherry995 lbf (4,430 N)
Black Cherry, Imbuia950 lbf (4,226 N)
Soft Maple950 lbf (4,226 N)
Cedar900 lbf (4,003 N)
Southern Yellow Pine (Loblolly and Shortleaf)690 lbf (3,100 N)
Douglas Fir660 lbf (2,900 N)
Hemlock540 lbf (2,402 N)
Redwood420 lbf (1,868 N)
Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)

As you can see both Hard Maple and Soft Maple have scored higher values of hardness than many other wood types that we commonly use. So, if you’re looking for a harder, denser, and stronger option than the wood type that you currently use for a particular woodwork option, Maple is the best option for you.

Maple Wood Characteristics

ColorOff white cream, pale yellow
Density540 kg/m3 – 630 kg/m3
Hardness950 lbf (4,226 N) – 1,450 lbf (6,450 N)
Stiffness1.64 Mpsi – 1.83 Mpsi
Wood TypeNorth American Hardwood
ApplicationsHigh-end furniture, Kitchen accessories, Musical instruments, and Flooring

Generally, both Hard Maple and Soft Maple are commonly distributed in North America. Both kinds of wood have diffused pores structures with straight wood grain. fiber vessels are small to medium in size.

Maple wood has good workability. Working with hand tools and machine tools is easy. It has no odor.

In terms of appearance, both Hard Maple and Soft Maple are attractive with warm colors. Maple wood is easy to maintain and doesn’t get scratched or dents so easily.

Both kinds of wood can be used in both indoor and outdoor woodworking projects.

When you’re using Maple wood for outdoor woodworking projects, make sure to apply proper sealer and focus more on the finishing part. Because even though Maple is considered as one of the hardest and strongest wood types on the planet, moisture and water molecules can penetrate through their pores structure and get inside of the wood which causes rotting in near future. No wood is 100% resistant to moisture.

The qualities of Maple wood are,

  • Extremely strong
  • Superior hardness
  • High workability
  • Attractive warm shade
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Shock resistant

Differences Between Hard Maple and Soft Maple in Terms of Strength and Hardness

According to the Janka hardness scale,

  • Hard Maple has a 1,450 lbf (6,450 N) hardness rating
  • Soft Maple has a 950 lbf (4,226 N) hardness rating

Both Hard Maple and Soft Maple are hardwoods harvested from dicot trees. As you can see Hard Maple is significantly harder than Soft Maple. According to the research Soft Maple is 25% softer than Hard Maple.

But when we look at the big picture, Soft Maple is still harder than popular wood types like Douglas fir, cedar, pine, and redwood.

So, It is totally fine, if you use Soft Maple for small or medium woodworking projects rather than Hard Maple. Because Soft Maple gives the same kind of qualities as Hard Maple with a little less amount of hardness.

Hard MapleSoft Maple
The tight growth ring structureThe less tight growth ring structure
Lighter in colorA little bit darker in color
Harder and denserLess hard and less dense
ExpensiveLess expensive

What Is Maple Wood Good For?

Maple wood can be used for any type of woodworking project due to its great hardness and strength.

Such as,

  • Flooring
  • High-end furniture
  • Kitchen accessories
  • Musical instruments
  • Decorative woodwork
  • Veneers
  • Bookshelves

As you can see Maple wood is filled with lots of great qualities and is one of the best wood on the planet without a doubt.

How Strong Is Maple wood?

Maple wood is a hardwood with lots of strength. Therefore it is commonly used for many big constructions and woodworking projects. The compressive strength and bending strength of Maple wood are higher than many other wood types.

Here’re the compressive strength and bending strength of Hard Maple and Soft Maple to get an idea about how strong Maple wood is.

StrengthHard MapleSoft Maple
Compressive Strength7,830 psi6,540 psi
Bending Strength15,800 psi13,400 psi
Stiffness1.83 Mpsi1.64 Mpsi

Because of its strength Maple wood can use for making frames, joints, beams, and many other outdoor woodworking projects as well.

Maple Hardwood Flooring

Maple wood is strong, hard, and dense. Plus, it is attractive because of its aesthetic look. Therefore, Maple wood is a popular option in flooring.

The uniform texture and smooth surface of wood grain are able to add a consistent look to the entire floor. Also, Maple wood is adaptable to any color and lets furniture and other woodworks accents of a room shine through.

Maple wood floors can easily maintain by regular vacuuming and sweeping. Maple is resistant to foot traffic, scratches, and dents. Therefore the durability of Maple wood floors is high and you’ll be able to keep the floor fresh as new for years and years.

Maple Hardwood Flooring Pros and Cons

Here’re some pros and cons that you’ll notice during Maple hardwood flooring.

ProsCons
HardwoodLow moisture resistance
Highly durableDifficult to stain
AffordableFades over time
Can get a smooth and uniform finish 
Scratch-resistant 
Readily available 
Easy to maintain 
Eco friendly 

Those cons of Maple hardwood floors can be prevented by applying a quality sealer once the woodworking project is done. The proper finisher can minimize those issues with Maple hardwood floors.

If you’re interested in Maple hardwood flooring, Read: Does Maple Wood Darken Over Time?

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about Maple wood hardness compared to other wood types.

Is Maple Harder Than Oak?

Hard Maple is harder than Red Oak and White Oak. But both Red Oak and White Oak are harder than Soft Maple. So, if you’re looking for a wood type that’s harder than Oakwood, Hard Maple is the best option to go rather than the Soft Maple.

According to the Janka hardness ratings,

Wood TypeHardness
Hard Maple1,450 lbf
White Oak1,360 lbf
Red Oak1,290 lbf
Soft Maple950 lbf

 Is Maple Harder Than Walnut?

Hard Maple is harder than Walnut. but Walnut is harder than Soft Maple. Therefore, Hard Maple is harder, denser, and stronger wood type than Walnut but not Soft Maple.

According to the Janka hardness ratings,

Wood TypeHardness
Hard Maple1,450 lbf
Walnut1,010 lbf
Soft Maple950 lbf

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Maple A Hardwood?

In this article we’ve deeply discussed is Maple a hardwood and how Hard Maple is by taking Maple wood characteristic qualities.

Both Hard Maple and Soft Maple are hardwoods with great strength, durability, and exceptional qualities which are pretty much useful in any woodworking activity.

Furthermore, we have talked about Maple wood hardness compared to other popular wood types and how Maple hardwood is important in different applications like flooring.

So, I think you have gathered a good knowledge about is Maple a hardwood and what are the uses of it. So, let’s head into your next woodworking project with Maple wood. Have fun!


About Walter Parker

Walter Parker is a father and 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!

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