Is Maple Harder Than Oak?

Maple versus oak, a battle of two titans in the world of wood. When it comes to hardwood flooring or furniture, these two species often steal the spotlight with their exceptional durability and timeless beauty. But which one reigns supreme in terms of hardness? Here, we will explore the various factors that determine the hardness of maple and oak, delve into their unique characteristics, and ultimately answer the burning question: Is maple truly harder than oak?

Understanding Wood Hardness

Before we dive into the comparison between maple and oak, let’s establish a basic understanding of wood hardness. The term “hardness” refers to a wood species’ resistance to indentation or wear over time. It is measured using different methods such as the Janka hardness test, which measures how much force is required to embed a steel ball into a piece of wood.

Wood hardness is an important aspect to consider when choosing materials for flooring or furniture because it directly impacts their lifespan and ability to withstand daily use. Now that we have our groundwork laid out, let’s move on to comparing maple and oak!

Maple: An Unyielding Beauty

Maple, also known as Acer saccharum among arboreal enthusiasts (fancy!), is renowned for its pale hues and smooth texture. This resilient hardwood boasts impressive density levels alongside its aesthetically pleasing appearance.

1. Janka Hardness Rating

When it comes to measuring maple‘s mettle against indentation forces unleashed by steel balls (yes, you read that right), it scores quite high on the Janka scale. With an average rating ranging from 1450-1500 pounds-force (lb-f), it earns itself quite a reputation for being tough as nails.

2. Durability Factors

Several factors contribute to maple‘s remarkable durability:

  • Tight grain pattern: Its fine, close-knit grain pattern adds strength and allows it to resist dents and scratches with gusto.
  • High shock resistance: Maple can withstand heavy impacts, making it an ideal choice for lively households or high-traffic areas. So don’t worry about those elephant stampedes!
  • Moisture resistance: This hardwood fares well in moist environments, making it less prone to warping or cupping.

All these qualities make maple a prime candidate for sports flooring, butcher blocks, and other demanding applications where toughness matters.

3. Common Uses

Maple finds its way into various applications due to its hardness and versatility. Here are some common uses of this resilient wood:

  • Flooring: Its sturdiness makes it an excellent fit for both residential and commercial settings.
  • Furniture: From tables to chairs, maple furniture blends durability with elegance like a match made in woodworking heaven.
  • Cabinets: Maple cabinets not only offer long-lasting beauty but also withstand the daily wear and tear of busy kitchens (we’re looking at you, MasterChef wannabes!).

Now that we’ve explored the mighty maple’s virtues let’s turn our attention to its worthy opponent – oak!

Oak: A Classic Contender

Ah, oak, the quintessential symbol of strength and longevity throughout history. With robust natural aesthetics plus durability that stands against the test of time (testosterone?), oak holds a special place in many hearts (and homes).

1. Janka Hardness Rating

When subjected to the steel ball brawl on the Janka scale(cue Rocky theme music), oak shows no sign of weakness either. It has a respectable average rating ranging from 1200–1360 lb-f. While not as hard as maple, oak still packs quite a punch in terms of toughness.

2. Durability Factors

Here are a few key attributes that contribute to oak‘s durability:

  • Open grain structure: Oak’s prominent grain pattern is not only visually captivating but also adds strength and resistance to wear.
  • Density: With its high density, it can handle the knocks and dings of everyday life with ease, ensuring lasting beauty for decades.
  • Decay resistance: Some oak species possess excellent natural decay resistance, making them ideal for outdoor projects such as decks or fencing.

So while maple keeps a tight hold on the crown of hardness, oak is no pushover either!

3. Common Uses

Oak’s versatility shines through in its wide range of applications. Here are some popular uses where oak takes center stage:

  • Flooring: Whether you opt for red or white oak varieties, both offer exceptional durability and timeless appeal underfoot.
  • Furniture: From classic to contemporary designs, oak furniture effortlessly combines elegance with longevity.
  • Interior trim and molding: The intricate grain patterns of oak add character to any room when used for trim work or moldings.

Now that we have seen both contenders bring their A-game let’s take a closer look at how they stack up against each other.

Maple vs Oak: The Final Showdown

In the quest for wood supremacy between maple and oak (cue epic battle music), it ultimately boils down to personal preference and specific project requirements. While maple stands tall in terms of raw hardness (take cover behind the maples!), there are other factors at play when deciding which hardwood is right for you.

Maple Oak
Janka Hardness Rating Average rating ranging from 1450–1500 lb-f (maple wins!) Average rating ranging from 1200–1360 lb-f
Durability Factors Tight grain pattern
High shock resistance
Moisture resistance
Open grain structure
Decay resistance
Common Uses Flooring
Interior trim and molding

As the table reveals, maple takes the crown for raw hardness, making it an excellent choice for areas that undergo heavy daily wear-and-tear (hello, roller derby enthusiasts!). On the other hand, oak’s combination of durability and natural beauty provides a timeless appeal that many find irresistible.

So there you have it, folks! While maple may reign supreme in terms of raw hardness (maple: 1; oak: 0), oak gives it a good run for its money with its own set of admirable qualities (oak: not just wood – also strong!). Ultimately, both maple and oak have their distinct charm and strength that lend themselves to a variety of applications.

Whether you choose maple or oak depends on your personal style preferences, specific project requirements (and whether you’re feeling rebellious like Jack Sparrow or endurance-focused like Captain America). So go forth and make your selection wisely – remember, the world is your hardwood oyster!

H2 Headings:

  • Understanding Wood Hardness
  • Maple: An Unyielding Beauty
  • Oak: A Classic Contender
  • Maple vs Oak: The Final Showdown

H3 Headings:


  1. Janka Hardness Rating
  2. Durability Factors
  3. Common Uses


  1. Janka Hardness Rating
  2. Durability Factors
  3. Common Uses

FAQ: Is Maple Harder Than Oak?

Q: Which is harder, maple or oak?
A: Comparing the hardness of woods, maple is generally considered harder than oak.

Q: How can I determine if a wood species is hard?
A: Wood hardness can be determined using the Janka hardness scale, which measures the force required to embed a steel ball into the wood. The higher the Janka rating, the harder the wood.

Q: What is the Janka rating for maple and oak?
A: Maple typically has a Janka rating of around 1450 pounds-force (lbf), while oak typically ranges between 1200-1300 lbf. Therefore, maple is usually considered harder than oak.

Q: Does hardwood flooring made from maple or oak differ in terms of durability?
A: Both maple and oak are commonly used for hardwood flooring due to their durability. While both types are durable, some individuals might prioritize one over the other based on personal preferences and requirements.

Q: Are there any advantages of choosing maple over oak for furniture making?
A: Yes, choosing maple over oak for furniture-making offers certain advantages. Maple’s overall hardness provides better resistance against dents and scratches compared to oak. Additionally, its lighter color allows for greater flexibility in staining options.


The information provided above regarding wood hardness ratings and specific details may vary depending on factors such as geographical location and variations within each wood species. It’s always recommended to consult with experts or conduct further research before making any decisions related to woodworking projects.