Deciding between maple vs walnut wood for your furniture, cabinets, and flooring can be a tough task. Both types of wood come from the hardwood of the tree. However, I’ve found in my own woodworking projects they are quite different from each other. From my own experience, I will detail which type of wood is best for furniture, flooring, and cabinets.
Maple vs Walnut Wood
Maple wood is rich with streaks and variations that contribute to unique wood grain and works well in contemporary furniture. Walnut is a beautiful dark brown wood that looks great in a natural or linseed oil finish.
Although the two types of wood are popular for various purposes, they have pros and cons. Neither is a particularly heavy wood. Walnut is a moderately heavy wood while Maple is lighter and less dense.
One wood can work better for flooring, while another light brown wood might be more suited for cabinets. Since furniture is a sizeable investment, making the decision that best suits you is important. I will take a closer look into what makes each of these woods popular and give you an idea of what to expect.
Comparing Walnut and Maple Wood for Furniture
Before I dive too deep, here’s a quick overview of how maple and walnut compare:
|Lighter wood color
|Darker wood color
|Very strong wood,1,450 lbf Janka Hardness
|Moderately strong wood,1,010 lbf Janka Hardness
|Tight, straight pattern
|Open, varied pattern
|Cheaper than walnut, easier wood to source
|Faster growth rates, wider availability
|Very fast drying wood
|Slow dry to prevent cracks
|Cheaper than walnut,easier wood to source
|High demand, expensive wood
Maple Wood for Furniture
Hard Maple wood is one of the hardest domestic woods for furniture-making. Still, Maple wood, much like Cherry wood, is one of the softer hardwoods. What makes Maple wood appealing for furniture is that it is very durable and sustains any nicks and dents that may occur through use. As far as wear and tear, Maple is slightly better than Oak or Walnut furniture.
Most Maple wood is known for variation, with a quirky pattern and an irregular finish. As it is much smoother than many types of wood, it is the better hardwood to paint. This means that if you’re looking for a brightly colored piece, Maple wood is your best choice. But, Maple is also a difficult wood to stain without presealing the wood first.
Soft Maple tends to be the darkest of Maple varieties with red, brown or gray streaks in the wood. Light colors in wood tend to come from the outer layers of a tree and the sapwood.
Sugar Maple is not only valued for its maple syrup, its also considered a durable wood that can be used in many different applications. The hardwood lumber is used in furniture making and flooring. The sapwood of Sugar Maple can be extremely light in color, giving it a particularly creamy appearance.
Hard Maple wood is a heavy wood with great strength. This type of Maple is a popular choice because it can fit any style, from traditional to contemporary and even country.
Maple is also popular throughout homes as it can furnish many rooms. Maple is one of the least expensive hardwoods, you can look forward to quality furniture at a lower price.
Walnut Wood for Furniture
Walnut is considered one of the most beautiful types of wood. It is dark brown wood and has a luxurious feel and look to it.
In furniture making several distinctive characteristics make Walnut wood an excellent choice over other woods. Walnut is among the most stunning wood types for furniture, but there is a lot that should be considered apart from its beauty.
First, Walnut is a naturally dark-colored wood that varies in tone from medium to dark brown shades. Walnut grain has a consistent pattern and very little texture. It has subtle waves and long narrow loops that are interrupted by dark-colored knots.
Walnut wood is about average hardness for hardwood, and its construction is highly durable, although it may take scratches or dents with heavy use. Walnut wood won’t warp, and it absorbs shock well and naturally resists decay. This makes Walnut an excellent choice for indoor furnishings as it is premium wood.
Comparing Walnut and Maple Wood for Flooring
Take a look to determine which wood will work best for your floors.
Maple Wood for Flooring
Hardwood flooring is very popular and trending heavily. Maple wood is slightly harder than oak, and it is also lighter in color, especially compared to cherry wood. Although it is pricier, Maple wood is more modern and has less grain, presenting a sleeker and smoother look on floors.
However, Maple wood is more likely to turn yellow over time, particularly if the flooring is in rooms exposed to more light. Unfortunately, Maple wood is not a good absorbent of stain; therefore, the flooring will develop blemishes and spots when something spills on them. It tends to absorb stains differently, particularly dark stains, which can turn gray. Keep this in mind if you plan to have hardwood flooring in the kitchen.
Hard Maple is often used in flooring in high traffic public areas such as bowling alleys or gymnasiums. Canadian Maple wood is not only renowned for its maple syrup, its strength makes it ideal as a durable wood for flooring applications. Treated Maple is also a good choice for outdoor decking as it can withstand moisture and insect attacks.
Walnut Wood for Flooring
Walnut wood is the most sought-after domestic hardwood. Walnut wood is a superb flooring choice as it has a refined look and is a beautiful interior design gem that will instantly enhance the appearance and decor of your home. The color tones of the wood range from light brown to a darker chocolate brown.
Black Walnut wood floors are highly durable, although like many woods, they can be susceptible to insect attacks if not treated or maintained. The dark brown wood works particularly well in formal settings such as a dining room.
With its beautiful grain markings and exciting figuring, Walnut wood makes the flooring very unique and lively. Walnut flooring can be done in wood with color variations and no knots or wood with knots and color variations. The latter is the more popular choice for flooring.
Because it is not as hard as other flooring woods, Walnut is often made in a natural finish so that dents and scratches are less noticeable. However, the dents and scratches add character to the beautiful and rustic Walnut wood flooring.
Comparing Walnut and Maple Wood for Cabinetry
What is the difference between Maple and Walnut wood when it comes to cabinets?
Maple Wood for Cabinets
When it comes to purchasing the best cabinet collection, the wide variety of selections can pose a great challenge. Maple wood is a household name in cabinetry, as it is a common sight in many kitchens.
Maple wood is considered an extremely hardwood with a fine texture with natural colors ranging from creamy white to dark reddish browns that mellow over time. Maple wood may contain some wavy or curly graining, making it appealing for cabinets.
Even though it is considered a hard domestic wood, there are hard Maple and soft Maple variations. Lower priced than hard Maple wood, soft Maple is ideal for cabinets and musical instruments.
Walnut Wood for Cabinets
Walnut is a classic wood for cabinetry as it is dynamic due to its numerous possibilities. Although Walnut usually brings a vintage look to kitchen cabinets, it can elevate your cabinetry to more modern levels when paired with other materials like metals.
Walnut is a complex wood due to its colors, varying grains, patterns, and textures. This means that your kitchen will look unique. Although not necessarily a first choice, American Walnut can work well in a kitchen setting. American Walnut adds chocolate and red wine undertones to a color scheme. Like woods in general, the color of American Walnut depends on what part of the tree is used.
Pros and Cons of Working with Walnut and Maple Wood
Both Walnut and Maple wood have their own advantages. I find the choice between them often depends on the specific requirements for a woodworking project.
Advantages of Working with Walnut
- Finishing Excellence: Walnut finishes beautifully with oils and clear finishes.
- Detailing: Walnut is well-suited for intricate carving and detailing work due to its moderate hardness.
- High-End Furniture: Walnut often used in high-end furniture making.
- Musical Instruments: Walnut is a preferred wood for crafting musical instruments, such as guitars.
Disadvantages of Working with Walnut
- Cost: Walnut is generally more expensive than Maple.
- Hardness: Moderately hard, but not as dent-resistant as harder woods like Maple.
- Limited Availability: High-quality Walnut lumber not readily available in some regions.
- Dark Color: The dark color of Walnut may not suit all design projects.
Advantages of Working with Maple
- Workability: Maple is known for its ease of workability with hand and power tools.
- Uniform Appearance: Maple’s fine, uniform, and consistent color provides a clean and elegant look.
- Staining Capability: Maple accepts stains and finishes evenly, allowing for customization of its appearance.
- Cutting Boards and Kitchen Utensils: Often chosen for cutting boards and kitchen utensils due to its durability and safe food contact properties.
Disadvantages of Working with Maple
- Finishing Challenges: Achieving a deep, rich finish with Maple can be more challenging than Walnut due to its lighter color.
- Hardness: Hardness makes it more difficult to work with hand tools.
- Grain Variation: When machining Maple, the wood can produce fuzzy or torn grain, requiring extra work.
- Allergenic Properties: Some individuals may be allergic to Maple wood dust.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is Stronger, Maple or Walnut?
Neither Walnut or Maple is a particularly heavy wood. Maple wood is generally considered to be stronger and harder than Walnut wood. This strength and hardness can be measured using the Janka hardness scale: Maple wood typically has a Janka hardness rating of around 1,450 to 1,550 pounds-force (lbf). Walnut wood has a Janka hardness rating of around 1,000 to 1,100 lbf.
What is a Better Cutting Board: Maple or Walnut?
Both Maple and Walnut wood can make an excellent cutting board. If you want durability and a light color, Maple is a great option. If you prefer a darker board that can handle regular use, Walnut will work just fine.
Does Maple Go with Walnut?
Walnut and Maple can be paired together in interior design. The combination of Walnut and Maple can add warmth and contrast. Maple’s light color and uniform grain can complement something like American Walnut wood which has distinctive dark, rich hues. Balance Walnut furnishings by using Maple in lighter-toned elements such as chairs and shelving.
Knowing whether Walnut or Maple is better for things like cabinets and floors is helpful before you purchase. This article tells you about the different characteristics of Walnut and Maple, and how they look in your home. Ultimately, choose the wood you like the most, fits your budget, and looks good with the other elements in your home.