Key Differences Between Oak and Maple Hardwood Flooring

For most hardwood lovers, oak and maple are the top picks when it comes to hardwood flooring. Both are popular and durable, available in solid and engineered forms and many different types of finishes. Although there are some similarities between the two, there’s much discussion about which one is superior to the other. In this guide, we’ll help you explore the key elements where oak and maple differ.

Differences between Oak and Maple Flooring

Three essential factors make oak and maple stand apart from each other –appearance, durability, and pricing.

  1. Appearance: They differ a lot in grain patterns and colours. They also come in different species which makes the choosing process tricky.
  • Oak: There are two types of oak available – Red Oak and White Oak. Red Oak has a reddish/rosy tone and a medium to heavy grain pattern. White Oak has a brownish to slightly grayish tone and a less distinctive grain pattern. Both red and white oak are available in a variety of grades, unfinished and pre-finished forms.

The presence of various patterns like rings, wavy figures, stripes, flecks, etc. on oak makes it more desirable than maple. Also, oak having a slightly porous property holds stain well. This means it can have a beautiful finish with both light and dark stains. The rich, warm tones with unique graining patterns add a prominent charm and character to your space, making oak a timeless flooring option.

  • Maple: Maple hardwood can be broadly placed into two types – Hard Maple and Soft Maple. Maple has a lighter and creamier complexion than oak. It has light graining patterns with wavy, curly and straight lines. The non-porous property of maple doesn’t hold stain well. Dark stains may look blotchy on maple hardwood.
  1. Durability: Both these flooring types are highly durable. Here are the hardness ratings of oak and maple according to the Janka hardness test –

Red Oak – 1290 lbf (Pound-force)

White Oak – 1360 lbf

Hard Maple – 1450 lbf

Soft Maple – 950 lbf

The higher the number, the harder the wood. Hard maple, red and white oak are very hard and soft maple is medium hard in terms of resistance to tear and wear.

Among all the above-mentioned types, white oak is the most stable material. Besides hardness, it also displays the least amount of expansion and contraction with changes in temperature and moisture levels. It’s also resistant to fungi and bugs. So, it’s the best flooring choice for locations with extreme summer and winter temperatures as well as humidity.

Both oak and maple are resistant to dents and scratches. However, you must remember that there are several grades available and each grade may have different imperfections.

  1. Pricing: Generally, oak is more expensive than maple. However, each has several varieties whose prices depend on their quality. Average oak prices range from $4.99 to $7.49 per sq. foot while average maple prices can range from $3.74 to $5.75 per sq. foot. The price difference between oak and maple can range anywhere from $1 to $5 per sq. foot for materials and installation.

In a nutshell, oak is more expensive, offers more choices in grain patterns and is very durable. Maple is less expensive, durable, doesn’t offer many choices in grain patterns and can stain unevenly. Whether you want to go for oak or maple hardwood for your home, it depends on your stylistic preference and aesthetic choice. However, while one type may seem better than the other for several reasons, what matters most is good quality!

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