Both maple and oak flooring are known as hardwoods. Hardwood flooring is most preferred for its natural beauty and aesthetic value. Most times, a building with hardwood floor installed is worth more than those without. There are several species of hardwood out there; walnut, hickory, cherry, and so on.
This article will focus with maple and oak. Maple and oak flooring are closely related. Mostly in terms of their woody appearance and durability, since they are both hardwoods. Not only are they popular, but they both also exist in solid and engineered forms. But there exist differences which will be brought to your attention in this post.
Differences Between Maple and Oak Hardwood Floors.
We will be discussing the differences per subtype of these hardwoods. Oak exists mainly as red oak and white oak. Maple floors on the other hand exist as soft and hard maple.
The difference in looks is visible in their grain pattern and color, this shall be discussed even further.
Oak exists in two forms. The red oak has a reddish/rosy color tone. As for the grain pattern, it is heavily pronounced on the wood. The white oak’s grain pattern compared to red is less distinctive and visible, its color tone is brownish or slightly grayish.
The two forms of maple are very hard to tell apart as their grain pattern and color are the same. However, Hard maple has a tighter grain pattern and a lighter color compared to soft maple. The latter type has colors of brown, grey, and red.
Comparatively, the grain pattern of oak exists in different forms; rings, wavy figures, flecks, stripes, and so on. Thus, oak offers a more varied look to customers, unlike maple that has only wavy, curved, and straight lines to offer.
Keeping them side by side, the maple is less appealing in terms of beauty, even with its general light and creamy look. Also maple wood has a non-porous property, though the presence of grain pattern will allow for staining.
This will result in a blotchy and uneven color appearance. So best be careful of the color option you select for your home or office since no alteration can be made. Oak floors can be stained with ease to afford you a color change of your choice from time to time.
This property is dependent on the strength and hardness of the material. This is measured on the Janka scale.
White Oak-1360 pounds per force (lb/N) Hard Maple-1450 lb/N Red Oak-1290 lb/N and Soft Maple-950 lb/N.
The higher the number, the harder the wood and the stronger it is. The stronger a wood is, the more resistant it is against general wear and tear, as a result of the high movement of people and traffic.
Dents and scratches are very difficult to come by on maple floors, but not impossible. If a maple floor has a scratch, it almost ruins the entire appearance of the floor. A scratch on a maple floor is more conspicuous to see, compared to if it appeared on oak. Oak floors can take more damage without getting their appearance altered.
Also, you can use wood stains, wood finishes and other similar means to remove the scratch with ease.
Despite coming in second on the Janka scale, it is more stable than the maple flooring type. It is less likely to respond to climate changes, which is the general cause of floor warping, expansion, and contraction.
Temperature changes and moisture has little effect on oak hardwood compared to the maple. It is also resistant to fungal and insect attacks, humidity has little effect on oaks. The same cannot be said for maple floors.
The cost of flooring types is dependent on several factors with the availability of raw material for production coming on top. The more available the wood, the cheaper the hardwood floor.
The maple tree has a more abundant growth compared to its counterpart and other exotic hardwoods; teak and mahogany. It also has a fast-growing rate which allows it to replenish and be plentiful, after being cut down. Quality of floors is also a major effect on the price. Either way, oak is the most expensive of the pair.
The expression first impression matters holds true even for flooring. Maple floor with its creamy look has aesthetic value. But it comes shortly against its counterpart. The heavy grains and a nice, warm rosy tone features of the oak make it stand out more.
Plus the looks of this floor give that impression of a durable and strong floor type. In conclusion, oak floors have more aesthetic value thanks to their varied grain pattern, and more durable, even though weaker.
Maple floors on the other hand do not offer a lot of styles to choose from. Not to mention that it’s sparse grain pattern makes staining very difficult and uneven.
Which Is More Expensive Oak or Maple?
Oak flooring is more expensive because it’s durable and not as readily available as the maple. Also, it comes with more grain pattern options. Maple flooring on the other hand is less expensive, but not as durable as oak flooring. Also, it comes with not many grain pattern options.
Which Flooring Is Best, Oak or Maple?
The answer to this question varies quite a lot from individual to individual. Even so, such a conclusion can only be achieved with an in-depth analysis of their advantages and disadvantages. The highlighted features are in comparison to each other, cons among others.
Pros of Oak Floors
The following are the advantages compared to each other;
i. The stability of oak floors is higher than that of maple. Despite the latter’s strength, it is more prone to warping, which unbalances the floor.
ii. The aesthetic value of oak is more impressive than its counterpart. Having different shades of red and brown, makes it attractive to homeowners especially. The ability to get stained easily offers a new color experience if the need for it does arise. This makes it more commonly sought for than the maple.
iii. Since the oak stains easily, a more uniform and professional look is achieved much better than the maple floors.
iv. The initial procurement is higher than that of maple, but the overall cost of maintenance and care makes it cheaper. Scratches and scuff marks are very easy to deal with, unlike on the other floor. But no matter the cost, it is budget-friendly.
Cons of Oak Floors
Despite the many advantages, problems abound which pertains to the oak floor, in comparison to each other;
i. It is quite a heavy hardwood, so it is easy to mishandle, which has undesirable effects on the entire flooring experience. It is thus unsuitable for DIY work and thus it is best installed by a professional.
ii. In unprocessed form, it is vulnerable to fungal attack. That means that as trees, getting infected is easy and possible. Diseases such as blight once it infects trees, especially hardwood, will be weakened. Thus the normal properties are halved or are reduced.
Advantages of Maple Floors
There are some favorable characteristics which push this choice as the best to use. Most people prefer it for its usage in contemporary homes. There are;
i. It has a subtle grain appearance. This means that the grain pattern is barely noticeable, though present. This makes it a good choice for flooring large, open and expansive areas.
ii. The high strength it possesses makes it a good option for high traffic areas. Using it in low traffic areas is not a bad idea either.
iii. Maple floors have good stability, better than most species of hardwood trees. Only oak trees rival their own stability.
iv. Maple floors have a high resistance to dents and surface scratches. This is due to the combination of its hardness and little to none porosity level.
Disadvantages Of Maple Floors
Despite the desirable features of maple that might make maple a better choice than oak floors, there are a few downsides to it;
i. It is undeniable that it possesses good stability and hardness like no other hardwood. However, it is more likely to get affected by weather conditions, worse if the weather condition is extreme. The wood if affected is more susceptible to bend, twist, or warp faster than oak.
ii. The color variety of maple floors is very limited unless choices are made with the prefinished ones. The choice to change their color is also out the window.
Since it has little porosity, attempts to stain will result in a messy and blotchy look. So finding the most appealing of its type is a hassle, stressful, and sometimes unfulfilling.
In conclusion, oak flooring is the best in terms of stability and aesthetic value. Not only is the floor more resistant to weather conditions, but it also offers a wide variety of beautiful flooring to choose from.
Some homeowners do prefer the creamy and non-graining look of the maple, it goes well in some certain areas of a building. Gyms and basketball courts do find this floor more useful than most. So even though the oak floor is generally the best, the maple floor is still useful in its own way.