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Maple is the most prolific tree in North America. This species delights across the United States in varieties of red, sugar, silver, boxelder, and bigleaf. Additionally, the maple provides wood in both soft and hard. It’s easy to understand why maple is a popular choice for any construction project.

Hard Vs. Soft

In addition to the many sub-species of maple, there are also two distinct classifications of maple, hard and soft. Hard maple, also known as sugar maple, is the maple we tap for its famous syrup. Its very sturdy wood is suited for flooring and cabinet applications. Hard maple typically refers to one species, Acer saccharum.  Soft maple is a hardwood, too. The common name of soft describes soft maple only in its relation to hard maple, not other woods. Both soft and hard maple are sturdy, strong, and commonly used in home construction because of their durability and beauty.

maple cabinets

Soft Maple

Soft maple is also known as red maple and silver maple. It propagates easily in Canada and the eastern United States. Although not as heavy as its hard maple brethren, its light creamy sapwood is treasured for its clarity and used to produce fine furniture. The light reddish-brown of the heartwood provides visual interest for cabinetry work.

Because it’s less expensive than hard maple and is sourced from many varieties of maple, soft maple is quickly and competently competing with hard maple to become a favorite for kitchens. Since it’s hardwood, it machines easily and offers If you prefer painted kitchen cabinets, the tight grain of soft maple takes paint nicely, providing a solid medium for the paint. If you prefer the look of natural grain, soft maple, as all maple, provides uniform texture and strength along with grain variation such as bird’s eye, curly, and tiger stripe.

Hard Maple

Hard maple is also known as sugar maple. Its slow growth does well in the cooler climes of Canada and the northern and eastern U.S.  Sugar maple is a hard, smooth, dense wood that’s typically easy to machine, making it a timeless favorite in the cabinetry world.

Hard maple grows more slowly than soft maple, creating a tough heartwood that’s beauty and durability shine in any kitchen application, from cabinets to flooring. It’s more expensive than soft maple because it’s sourced from fewer varieties. Don’t let this deter you if you want to showcase the traditional charm and strength of maple in your kitchen.


The Bottom Line

Maple makes a great addition to your kitchen because of its even surface and high resistance to damage and stains. Whether you prefer soft or hard, maple wood is a good choice for your updated kitchen. Its versatility, natural beauty, and sustainability lend it the perfect hardwood choice for your kitchen. You can paint it any color you wish or you have the choice of staining it in many different shades. You can mimic other woods with your stain or simply apply linseed oil and add a clear stain afterward.  The choice is all yours with maple wood.