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Cabinet Wood Species: Maple

maple wood tree kitchen cabinets

What is Maple Wood?

Sugar maple (Acer sacharrum)-the same tree that gives us pure maple syrup-is also used for furniture and cabinet making. It is sometimes called Hard or Black Maple. A dozen other species of maple, such as striped, silver, red, or bigleaf, are classified as “soft” maple and sometimes used in fine furniture making. 

The maple tree is native to the northern United States and parts of Canada. The Great Lakes area and Vermont produce most of the world’s furniture maple wood.  

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What Are the Types of Maple Wood?

Maple is a medium to hard close-grained wood with a straight, wavy, or curly grain. Grain variations can include tiger, flame, birdseye, or fiddleback. These grains are used for custom and artisan furniture. In its natural state, it is off-white/creamy in color. It may also have light brown and pink hues. Occasionally there will be some mineral veining that will darken during staining.

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Maple Wood for Kitchen Cabinets

Maple is popular for its durability and shock resistance. It generally has a light, uniform appearance that produces a smooth, clean look when stained. Another benefit is that it can be finished to resemble other, more expensive hardwoods and softwoods such as cherry and cedar. Maple is an excellent choice for a light, airy kitchen or a dramatic kitchen with darker finishes.

The Janka scale is used to rate a wood’s durability. Hard maple rates 1,450 on the Janka scale. Maple wood is one of the highest-rated hardwoods. For comparison, white oak ranks 1360 on the Janka scale, and hickory is the hardest, with a rating of 1820. The wood industry website has an overview article on the Janka scale and extensive information on individual wood types if you are curious to read more. 

You can find an overview of the common woods used in kitchen cabinets in our Natural Wood blog.