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Maple vs Cedar Wood (for Furniture, Flooring, and Cabinets)

Homeowner applying coating to wooden canopy

People that work a lot with wood know just how important a type of wood is for their quality of work. So it made me wonder which to use between two different types of wood, Maple vs. Cedarwood, and which is best suited for furniture, flooring, and cabinets. So I asked around to find out which is better between the two!

Maple wood is harder and more durable than Cedarwood. Cabinet makers favor Maple for its strong durability. On the other hand, Cedar is softwood with natural weather-resistant properties that make it a good choice for siding, shingles, decking, greenhouses, arbors, and fences.

There are a lot of other points to consider between the two types of wood, like what they are good at being used for, their properties, appearance, pricing, etc. It all depends on what you want to use the two types of wood for at the end of the day.

Maple vs. Cedar

Woodworker crafting a chair using small hammer.

Maple wood is a popular hardwood choice amongst woodworkers to make furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and kitchen accessories. It’s wood with high durability, wide availability, and natural beauty due to its natural grain pattern that pops when varnished. It has a rating of 1450 on the Janka scale, which is higher than oak, walnut, and cherry.

What makes Maple appealing for woodworkers is its light, creamy color, smooth grain pattern, and of course, its durability. With Maple, a woodworker can create high-end furniture, cabinetry, and kitchen accessories. Maple was even used to make baseball bats but later got replaced by lighter Ash. It’s also used to make bowling alley floorings, so it can take a hit from countless heavy bowling balls and stay looking good as new.

Cedar is categorized as softwood because it is from a gymnosperm tree, which means it doesn’t flower like hardwood tree sources. Cedar though a softwood, is versatile and durable in outdoor environments thanks to its natural insect repellant characteristics. This softwood is iconic for its natural reddish color that is attractive and has natural weather and insect resistance.

The Cedarwood gives off a recognizable scent like no other. The Red Cedar starts as a reddish-brown color. Later, it changes as it is exposed to sunlight and depends on its growing conditions before it is milled as a tree. As a result, it’s a bit redder than cherry wood. It has a rating of 900 on the Janka scale. Its typically used for outdoor furniture, decking, and sidings.

Advantages Of Both

Maple has a few advantages over other woods due to its large Janka scale and naturally beautiful grain pattern. However, these are the most look at advantages of the Maple wood:

  • Durable, strong, long-lasting wood.
  • Characteristic straight wood grain.
  • Uniform color.
  • Good resistance to decay.
  • Stains and polishes well.A pile of Maplewood, an L-square, a pencil and a Block Plane.

Cedarwood, even though it’s a softwood, surprisingly has great durability, especially for outdoor usage. Though that’s one of the biggest reasons it’s used, it does have other advantages that are worthwhile to be pointed out like:

  • Its natural reddish color is attractive.
  • It has acoustic properties used by musical instruments.
  • Durable and Resistant to insects.
  • Weather resistance.
  • Light porous type of wood makes it great for insulation.

Disadvantages Of Both

Like all things, there is a downside due to their advantages; everything has a weakness ultimately, right? That is the same for these two types of woods that aren’t perfect but have flaws that might make you reconsider using them and choose another option that might be more fitting for your choice of usage.

The disadvantage of Maple is that it’s not always easy to stain the wood due to its tight grain structure, resulting in uneven patches along with the wood. So in terms of staining and dying this wood, it’s best to get a professional to do it, but it’s not impossible to do on your own if you have the experience.

Due to Maples’ lighter color and little grain pattern compared to other woods, scratches and marks become easily visible on the surface. Maple is also sensitive to weather changes and high heat/humidity, which results in the wood expanding and shrinking a lot that can cause it to split easily. Hence the reason why it isn’t suitable for outdoor usage.

Cedar also has its list of disadvantages; for instance, though it is weather-resistant, it still requires yearly maintenance, especially outdoors. In addition, although Cedar has those natural resistance qualities, it also has oil present in the wood that is flammable. So, making Cedar a flammable wood that can be a cause of concern for some people, thankfully, it can be treated.Cedar wood chips and a cedar oil in a small bottle.

That beautiful reddish color disappears a lot quicker than you would think; in about two weeks, it will go from red to greyish when exposed to direct sunlight. In addition, the wood is softwood, which makes it sensitive to bumps, scratches, etc. On top of all of this, most builders don’t recommend this as they believe that it won’t stand the required load of a building.

Considerations

Cedar is an affordable option if you’re looking for durability and is specifically used for outdoor usage. Compared to other woods in its category, it’s cost-effective, sustainable, and reliable. However, the drawback to its level of quality, its disadvantage of fading over time, and the fact that it requires maintenance yearly will make your cost to maintain the wood go higher.

Maple wood is moderately priced as hardwood; it is better than oak, cherry, and walnut. In addition, due to its durability and long lifespan, maintenance is hardly required, making it the cheaper option in the long term.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for great quality wood material for interior use, such as furniture, cabinets, and so forth, Maple is a great choice. You wouldn’t need to be concerned that it would get damaged easily if your kids bumped the wood. Maple also has a really beautiful aesthetic when it’s stained.

Whereas with Cedar, it’s perfect for that outdoor furniture that you want to last longer naturally, and if you’re concerned about costs, it’s the most cost-effective option between the two. Yes, it has a few concerning points, like its sensitivity and color fading over time. However, these are things that can be avoided.

References

streetdirectory.com – Cedar Wood Benefits

HGTV – Is Cedar a Hardwood?

For Dummies – Types of Wood for Woodworking