Hardwood Floors Maple Vs Oak: Which Is Better?

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Hardwood has many types and maple and oak are one of the most commonly used among all of them.

If you are in the phase of choosing the right flooring for your house, and you have decided to get hardwood floors, you will also need to choose a certain type of hardwood for this purpose.

However, this process can be a bit tricky especially if you have to choose among the two most renowned hardwood types of all time. Therefore, we decided to make the task easier for you.

Maple floors are cheaper and feature a light color with a subtle grain, while the oak floors are a bit darker in color and can have rosy or gray undertones (depending on if it’s red or white oak) with a much larger grain. Both of these harwood types are extremely renowned and efficient.

However, if you want to choose best among them which suits your conditions and preferences, you will have to read this article till the end, and make sure you do not miss out on anything.

What Is Maple?

Maple is a type of hardwood which comes from a deciduous tree. Maple wood is made from sugar maple trees and has a reddish brown color, whereas sapwood can have a range of colors from white to cream.

Besides, it is known to have golden undertones, which look extremely beautiful with its light color. I have also written a whole comparison blog on hardwood floors matte vs satin that will help you choose the right finish.

Pros of maple hardwood floors

Maple is one of the most used flooring options for hardwood floors. It provides many benefits to the user, such as strength, durability, the ability to resist water and moisture, and much more.

Besides, it is also very durable and does not come in very expensive, which makes it among the most suitable candidate for hardwood flooring in every household.

Our Popular Article: Hardwood Floor Resurfacing Vs. Refinishing: Explained

What Is Oak?

In 2020, oak hardwood flooring dominated the market in terms of revenue share among different wood types, reported by Wood Working Network (1).

This shows the enduring popularity of oak hardwood flooring. Oak, a type of hardwood known for its durability, versatility, and timeless aesthetic appeal, has been a preferred choice for flooring, furniture, and various woodworking applications for centuries.

Though it is considered hardwoods and softwoods, it has mainly two subtypes; red and white oak.

Although the oak tree has over 600 species, the two mentioned above are commonly used as hardwood flooring.

Pros of oak hardwood floors

Oak is exceptionally strong and resistant to moisture and other liquids. Red and white oak provide different colors, as apparent by their name, and are equally liked by homeowners.

While it is a bit more expensive, oak is one of the most durable hardwoods with an exceptional lifespan that adds to its benefits.

Hardwood Floors Maple Vs Oak | A Detailed Comparison

We understand that you are curious to know the difference between hardwood floors maple vs oak. However, many factors must be kept in mind before you are trying to choose a hardwood type.

AspectMaple Hardwood FlooringOak Hardwood Flooring
Appearance and Colors-Light with golden undertones, subtle grain.
-May have brown or black streaks.
-Rosy (Red Oak) or slightly gray
(White Oak) undertones, distinct grain pattern.
Hardness and DurabilityJanka Hardness: 1450Janka Hardness: 1360 (White Oak)
Janka Hardness: Varies (Red Oak)
Cost$7-$11 per sq ft$8-$16 per sq ft
Total cost for a 150 sq ft room: $2050-$3150Total cost for a 150 sq ft room: $2200-$3900
Ease in StainingAccepts stain efficiently, can change tones.Excellent stain absorption, retains color well.
Scratch ResistanceSusceptible to scratches due to light color.More scratch-resistant due to grain patterns.
VersatilitySuitable for modern or contrasting decor.Ideal for vintage or traditional settings.
Sunlight SensitivityCan develop yellowish hue with oil-based finishes.Less prone to yellowing with proper finishes.

Below are some important characteristics every hardwood should have if you want it as flooring. Moreover, we’ve listed how each of these two hardwoods represents that feature in their domain so you can get a more comprehensive idea.

Therefore, make sure you read it carefully.

Appearance and Colors

Maple is known for its clean look and light color with golden undertones. It is a highly demanded product that gives the floors a natural finish.

Besides, maple offers a subtle grain pattern which is not entirely mute and not too loud; hence, making just the right statement, you would want with the hardwood floors.

Usually, people prefer maple in contemporary environments where modern aesthetics are supported by this hardwood’s light color and subtle undertones.

Moreover, some maple hardwood floors might even feature brown or black streaks on their surface with a creamy color.

However, this is not predictable, and you will be lucky to have this added contrast in the maple hardwood boards.

Even without these, maple hardwood floors can be used to match the light colors of your modern decor, or they can be used to add contrast to the darker-tone furniture and muted walls.

Oaks grain patterns

In both scenarios, maple is suitable due to its versatility and ability to adapt to the surroundings, making it highly suitable for use in combination with various colors.

On the other hand, oak is similar but not entirely the same as maple. As mentioned earlier, there are two varieties of oak hardwood; red oak and white oak.

Red oak features a more rosy color and undertones, while white oak alternates the rosy with a slightly gray color.

Both look extremely beautiful with the slightly dark and orangish hue of the oak hardwood.

Furthermore, oak has a distinct and slightly louder grain, making it appear fuller and grabbing attention immediately.

All oak varieties have rings, flecks, waves, or strips in their grain, making a beautiful textured pattern on the surface of your wooden flooring.

Besides, oak is usually used in vintage settings or areas with darker tones where the undertones and hues make much of a statement.

However, you can also use oak in contemporary environments rather than traditional ones, as it can be used in contrast with lighter-colored furniture.

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Hardness and Durability

Both oak and maple have reasonable hardness and decent durability, allowing them to give you years before they can get damaged or show signs of weariness.

Usually, the hardness and durability of hardwoods are measured by the Janka Hardness test.

This test factors in the wear and tear that the hardwood would take over the years and then gives a rating accordingly.

The higher the rating, the more durable the wood type. Let’s take a deeper look at these qualities in both the hardwoods.

Hardness Matters

Maple is quite durable and hard, as it has a rating of 1450 on the Janka Hardness Test. This is a very optimum number for hardwoods, meaning that the hardwood floors will surely last you for many years.

Generally, maple can take a lot of traffic and wear and tear. As it has a very light color, it does not show much scratching or denting or make it more visible and highlighted.

Besides, the fading of color is also very rare, and maple is known to retain its original form for years.

Furthermore, maple has no significant weakness against liquids or moisture as the subtle grain does not allow much moisture to seep into the surface, which might damage the wood.

While, due to its sturdiness, oak has been used for various purposes. One common use of oak was in constructing sailing ships and boats.

This is evidence of its strength and resistance against moisture which is unmatched by most other hardwood types.

Longevity of maple and oak

Among the subtypes of oak, white oak is considered slightly harder and more durable than its counterpart. White oak has a rating of 1360 on the Janka Hardness Test, which is quite reasonable.

However, if you pair it up with the resistance to water and the naturally scratch-resistant surface of the oak, you will see how durable and strong oak is. According to Mannington Mills, Inc., maple is naturally a hardwood with a smoother surface texture, making it more susceptible to displaying scratches and dents compared to oak (2).

This makes it the ideal hardwood for flooring in commercial and domestic environments, as it can withstand extreme pressure and harsh treatments.

Related Sources: Stripping Vs Sanding Wood Floors: Which One To Choose?

Cost

If your flooring choice is not affordable, all its perks and advantages will be useless to you. Therefore, the cost of the material matters a lot when deciding between two or more hardwood choices.

While both of these hardwoods are considered generally affordable compared to the more exquisite and high-end hardwood types, they still have a price difference which you can exploit for a more affordable approach while enjoying the greatest benefits.

AspectMaple Hardwood FlooringOak Hardwood Flooring
Cost per sq ft.$7-$11$8-$16
Cost for 150 sq ft.$1050-$1650$1200-$2400
Additional Costs*$1000-$1500$1000-$1500
Total Estimated Cost$2050-$3150$2200-$3900

Maple is a slightly cheaper option among hardwood floors. Even though it provides the user with many benefits, it is only priced at $7-$11 per square ft.

We usually give our readers an estimate of the total cost of a 150 sq ft. room so they can have a better idea of how much the total cost of the flooring option would be.

Maple flooring will cost between $1050 and $1650 for the size mentioned above. However, you must add another $1000-$1500 for the other charges (labor, transport, etc.) and the staining and finishing costs.

Cost comparison of oak and maple hardwood floors

But even with these, maple is very affordable as high-end flooring for a room with the same dimensions will cost around $4k-$6k.

On the contrary, oak is slightly more expensive than maple but still very affordable compared to the exquisite hardwood types.

With all the perks and benefits it provides, oak will cost you around $8-$16 per sq ft.Using the same formula, flooring a 150 sq ft. room will cost around $1200-$2400.

Again, you must add one to two grand for finishing and staining.

Even though it is slightly more expensive than maple, it won’t cut your pockets deep, and you can still get the best oak and save much money by installing hardwood floors yourself.

Ease In Staining

Installing hardwood floors means you will stain them at some point. No matter how much you think you won’t want to do that, staining is a default process for hardwood floors which has many benefits such as customization of color, enhancement of wood grain, better appearance, locking in necessary moisture and a lot more.

Hence, a hardwood floor should be able to receive the stain efficiently so the best results can be achieved.

Oak's water resistance

Maple is good at receiving a stain and can give you the desired tone. As it is already very light in color, it can get a darker shade very easily, and you can change the hues, too, if you want.

However, you can only give the stain one or a maximum of two coats if it’s too thin. This is because the muted grain of the maple floors is not very open and does not allow too much stain inside the surface.

When it comes to oak, it is one of the best receivers of stain among all the hardwood types.

It is considered the king of hardwood mainly because of its strength and other features, but staining is one of the most prominent among them.

Whether you want to make the color light or dark or change the tone entirely, oak will easily receive a high number of coats and will absorb the stain very efficiently.

Besides, oak is known to retain the color of the stain for a long time, so you don’t have to re-stain it frequently.

Maple vs Oak Flooring: Which is Better?

Maple and oak are both equally renowned and popular hardwood types. They are not considered superior as both have perks and benefits.

Maple and oak were included in the list of the most extensively used hardwood species for floorings in 2019.

Oak moisture resistance feature

You shall choose the right type of hardwood for your wooden floorings according to the overall theme you selected for your house, the budget you have at hand, the look you are trying to achieve, and your personal preference.

Make sure to get product samples first and place them on the surface of your floors so you can determine which of these two will suit the surroundings the best.

It is recommended to check the color, grain patterns, and other factors to create a balanced look in your room.

A suitable way to choose between them is to check your budget and see how much you can stretch it.

When you have your maximum budget, look out for the best quality oak and maple in the given price bracket.

However, make sure to factor in labor, staining, sanding, and finishing costs which will be added to the price of the hardwood.

This will streamline the varieties for you and then you can match them with the existing theme of your house and see how much you can customize the floors with stianing.

If you are still confused, consult a flooring expert who will better guide you in selecting the right hardwood for your floors.

Conclusion

Maple and oak are both very strong and reliable flooring options which give a decent appearance too.

Therefore, choosing between them is certainly not an easy task. However, the guide above will help you make the decision wisely so make sure to follow it precisely to make the most well-versed choice.

FAQs

Q. Is maple hardwood floor better than oak?

White or Red Oak flooring may come at a slightly higher price point, but it offers a broader range of grain patterns and excels in terms of stain absorption. Maple, on the other hand, boasts a harder surface that enhances durability but can exhibit uneven staining and provides fewer options in terms of grain patterns.

Q. Do maple floors scratch easily?

While maple is a dense and hard hardwood variety, it does have a notable drawback when it comes to scratch resistance. Its light color, ranging from creamy white to light brown, makes maple susceptible to scratches and less resilient in this regard.

Q. Do maple floors go yellow?

Over time, maple floors tend to darken in color. However, if they are finished with oil-based polyurethane, they may develop a yellowish hue when exposed to direct sunlight. To prevent this yellowing effect, it’s advisable to use water-based sealants and take precautions to minimize sun damage.

Q. What wood is better with maple?

Maple complements several wood types beautifully, including walnut, white oak, cherry, and red oak. Its versatile and neutral appearance allows it to harmonize with the rich, dark tones of walnut, creating a striking contrast.

White oak’s natural elegance combines seamlessly with maple, while cherry offers a warm and inviting partnership. Additionally, the combination of maple and red oak or white ash can yield a balanced and aesthetically pleasing design in various woodworking and flooring applications.

Q. Are maple floors out of style?

Maple hardwood floors will never go out of style and their light color and fine grain will match any room design. They are always a good pick for people who like simple and open spaces.

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