Acacia and maple are both hardwoods with distinct characteristics. Acacia has recently become an affordable alternative to maple, especially for cutting boards and kitchen countertops and many readers wonder what the differences are.
Acacia is known for its durability, water resistance, and beautiful contrasting grain patterns, making it ideal for furniture, flooring, and kitchen accessories. Maple is lighter in color, with a straight, fine grain and a smooth texture. It is strong and shock-resistant, often used in furniture and cabinetry.
While both woods have their advantages, the choice between acacia and maple depends on the intended application and desired aesthetic.
Acacia vs Maple
Acacia is a native of Africa but today it grows in various parts of the world including Australia, Asia, Europe, and even the United States. Although it grows widely in America, acacia is often imported from different countries.
Maple is native to the United States and Canada, although several species grow in Europe. The maple leaf features on the National Flag of Canada.
Acacia is an ancient type of wood that has been used since biblical times. There are records of it being used in 700 C.E. to make baskets. Acacia is the wood that is believed to have been used to build the Ark of Covenant also known as Noah’s Ark.
Acacia also has some non-woodworking uses. It is used in the medical, food, and perfume industries.
Maple is a pale wood with an even, tight woodgrain. Many maple species grow in the United States, the two major types being hard maple and soft maple. Whereas hard maple is good for making furniture and molding, soft maple makes butcher blocks.
Hard maple makes good furniture, sports equipment, and drums. A non-working use of maple is for making maple syrup from hard maple. We also call hard maple “sugar maple” due to this reason. Maple chips make good smoking material for smoking meats and other foodstuffs.
Acacia vs Maple: Appearance
Acacia is a medium-to-dark-brown wood with pale sapwood and darker hardwood. Figured patterns also occur in the woodgrain that the Australians call “ringed.”
Maple is a light-colored wood with a straight-grained pattern. But there is some extent of interlocking and you may also see circular rings in the pattern. A unique variety of maple is “birdseye” maple which features woodgrain patterns that resemble the eye of a bird.
Acacia vs Maple: Durability
Acacia is a tough and strong wood which makes it useful for making furniture, flooring, and other load-bearing wooden structures. In ancient times people used acacia to make ships and boats. Acacia has a fair degree of resistance to moisture and it is useful for making decks and patios.
Maple is a fairly hard wood and if you take hard maple with a Janka hardness rating of 1,450 lbf. Therefore, it is suitable for flooring and you can also make good furniture from it. Hard maple is the favorite choice of lumber because it resists scratches, gouges, abrasion, and denting adequately.
Acacia vs Maple: Maintenance
You can use acacia outdoors but you might have to maintain it a bit. It’s easy to maintain acacia furniture. You can use some commonly-available household cleaners to clean it. After cleaning it applying tung oil or boiled linseed oil (BLO) improves the condition of the wood.
Today, you can even get pre-finished maple for flooring. But even these pre-finished boards would need some maintenance after some time. Ultimately, the more you clean maple wood, the more you can get out of it.
Acacia vs Maple: Workability and Uses
Acacia is a fairly flexible wood, particularly when the lumber is freshly cut. It is easy on hand and machine tools. The wood exhibits dimensional stability meaning that it doesn’t crack, warp, or shrink easily. However, you would do well to keep the wood moisture-free.
Acacia has antibacterial properties making it good for kitchenware like bowls and cutting boards. It makes good bathroom fixtures like cabinets and soap dishes.
The Hawaiians use acacia (Koa) to make boats. Since Koa is a good tonewood, they also use it to make musical instruments like the famous Hawaiian ukulele.
Acacia also has some non-woodworking uses. It makes a thickening agent for the food industry. It also is used in the pharmaceutical and perfume industries.
Maple is a good wood for furniture and flooring, particularly for dance floors, basketball courts, and bowling alleys. It is used for flooring in both residential and commercial properties. Maple makes good veneers, musical instruments, cutting boards, baseball bats, and turned objects. A non-wood woodworking property is to make maple syrup from the sap of the sugar maple tree.
Acacia vs Maple: Price
As acacia grows throughout the world it is understandably reasonably priced. Maple is also a reasonably-priced wood but hard maple costs a bit more than soft maple. In general, all varieties of maple are cheaper than many other hardwoods. However, the exception is figured maple which can be expensive due to its exquisite patterns.
Acacia vs Maple: Sustainability
Acacia nor maple appears on any of the lists of endangered wood species. So, we can conclude that both these types of wood are sustainable sources of lumber.
Acacia vs Maple: Any other characteristics
Acacia produces water-soluble gum used for thickening in the food industry. It also finds use in the pharmaceutical and perfume industries. Maple on the other hand is well-known for the maple syrup that comes from the sap of the sugar maple tree. Maple chips also make excellent smoking material for smoking meats and other foodstuffs.
Acacia vs Maple: Comparison Table
|Botanical name||No standard classification||Acer saccharum|
|Color||Medium to dark brown||Nearly white to off-white|
|Durability||Highly Durable||Mechanically durable but no resistance to rot or insects|
|Hardness (Janka Scale)||1,430 lbf. to 4,630 lbf.||1,450 lbf.|
|Strength||Strong to extremely strong||Strong wood|
|Maintenance||Low maintenance||Less maintenance|
|Suitability for outdoors||Yes||Indoor use only|
|Suitability for wood carving||Yes||No|
|Workability||Good||Easy to work with|
|Availability||Abundantly available||Easily available|
|Special features if any||Used in the food industry as a thickening agent||Maple syrup comes from maple sap|
You might choose either acacia or maple for a woodworking project and get satisfactory results from both. Moreover, they both are sustainable, attractive, and durable. There are no legal issues about procuring either wood. You might have a bit of difficulty procuring acacia sometimes since many types are imported. But this issue will not arise with maple because it is native to the United States.
If ever you have challenges acquiring acacia you can turn to maple and you’ll be sure to find it in your local lumber yard. We hope that this information has given you a better insight into these two commonly used types of wood and that you can use them effectively in your future woodworking projects.