Maple and pine are totally different kinds of trees so the wood that we get from them is also different. The primary difference between these two types of wood is that maple is hardwood and pine is softwood.
Although maple and pine are two different types of wood, they share a few similarities. The main similarity between these two kinds of wood is that they are both light-colored. They are also both resinous kinds of wood, but apart from that, they each have unique features that are useful to know.
Hardwood and Softwood
Before we get into the intricacies of maple vs. pine, let us first consider what constitutes hardwood and softwood:
Hardwood is wood that comes from deciduous trees. It means that these trees shed their leaves during autumn. They come under what we call “angiosperms” which is indicative of the type of reproductive system of these trees.
Angiosperms bear enclosed seeds. The majority of all types of wood in the world is hardwood. While most hardwood is hard, there are some exceptions. For example, balsa is a hardwood, but it is softer than several types of softwood.
Softwood comes from evergreen trees. A few examples are pine trees, spruce, cedar, and redwood. These trees come under the group “gymnosperms” which means that they reproduce through open seeds called cones. These cones produce pollen which gets transferred to other trees, which help in propagating the species.
Maple vs. Pine
The key difference between maple and pine is that maple is a hardwood whereas pine is a softwood. Pinewood is a lightweight and cost-effective wood. Furniture made from this wood is extremely popular.
It also has a considerable resistance to shock. The main attraction of pinewood is the rustic look that the finished wood has – it even looks good if you don’t apply a finish.
You can get different types of pine such as white pine, yellow pine, and red pine. Each type varies in color, texture, and grain pattern.
Maple on the other hand belongs to the genus Acer. It has about 128 species in existence. Like pine, you will find maple growing in various places across the United States. The national flag of Canada features a maple leaf.
Maple has a tight, straight grain pattern and like pine makes some excellent furniture. It also has the distinction of having its sap used to produce maple syrup.
Maple is a very hard wood, one of the hardest you can find with the exceptions of perhaps mahogany and a few other exotic types of wood. You will hardly see any grain patterns on maple.
The wood is light brown and may range from cream to light chocolate brown. You would have to use caution while staining this wood because the stain takes a bit of time to penetrate the wood.
Although maple is best-known for flooring, you can get a variety of furniture made out of this wood.
Pine primarily grows in the northwest region of the United States, but also grows in other places. It grows much more rapidly than hardwood trees, so it is a more sustainable option than any hardwood.
Pinewood plays a key role in the construction industry for making 2 by 4 studs and beams in framing. It also makes good furniture, cabinets, picture frames and so on. The knotty patterns and the unique lines of the wood grain give pinewood its characteristic rustic look.
Maple vs. Pine: Appearance
Maple is a pale, almost white wood and it has a tight, even grain. The tightness of the grain tends to mask wood’s pores. There is the occasional interlocking of the grain pattern, and you may also see a certain extent of curling or figuring.
Maple also comes in the form of “spalted” maple which is a type of maple affected by a fungus. The exposure to the fungus creates a haphazard but striking pattern called spalting. Spalted maple commands a high price in the market. Another rare and expensive variety of maple you may come across is “birdseye” maple.
There are different colors for pine as well, but the colors are more limited in comparison to maple. The light color of this wood opens a variety of possibilities for staining it in different colors, tints, and hues.
Pinewood also looks good if polished with a bit of wax polish. The main attraction of pine is the knotty appearance, which, in combination with the marked lines of the wood grain gives the wood a rustic appearance.
Maple vs. Pine: Durability
Hard maple’s Janka hardness rating of 1,450 lbf makes it a moderately hard wood. This results in durable and long-lasting furniture made by this wood. The furniture tends to resist denting, chipping, and gouging, a desirable property for flooring material.
However, pine is much softer than maple with a Janka hardness rating of only 380 lbf it is subject to physical damage. But the wood has better dimensional stability than maple and it can withstand extreme weather conditions much better.
Maple vs. Pine: Maintenance
Maple furniture needs minimal maintenance, but you might have to pay a bit of attention to maple flooring. To prolong the durability of maple flooring, you need to refurbish it every year or so.
Some flooring planks come with a pre-finish coating provided by the manufacturer. The extra layer sustains prevents the wood from abrasion and contamination.
Even if maple flooring comes with a pre-finish, it will eventually wear off, especially in places of high footfall. So, you need to follow a maintenance schedule for such pre-finished flooring sections. But be careful to follow the correct procedures to avoid potential damage to your precious hardwood flooring.
Pinewood is a softer and more porous type of wood, which you may find challenging to clean. Also, it is more prone to getting scratched and dented than maple. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid using pinewood flooring in high-traffic areas.
Maple vs. Pine: Price
Maple is loved not only for its good looks and durability but also for its reasonable price. Although hard maple is more expensive than soft maple, it is generally cheaper than most hardwoods except figured maple.
Pine is lighter, easier to work with, and cheaper than maple. But that being said, pine and maple are both easily available across the United States, and they are both considered to be among the cheapest types of wood available.
Maple vs. Pine: Sustainability
Maple and pine are readily available all over the United States. Although pine wood grows the fastest, they are both harvested sustainably. They are more sustainable than several hardwoods like mahogany.
Pine furniture is usually made from pinewood from plantations which are highly regulated. Pinewood grows extremely fast, so it’s easy to replace it as fast as it is harvested, which makes it highly sustainable.
Maple Vs. Pine: Comparison Table
|Acer saccharum||Pinus lambertiana|
|Color||Nearly white to off-white||Pale yellow to off-white|
|Durability||Mechanically durable but no resistance to rot or insects||Moderately durable|
|Hardness (Janka Scale)||1,450 lbf.||380 lbf.|
|Strength||Strong wood||Moderately strong|
|Maintenance||Less maintenance||Low maintenance|
|Price||Moderately priced||Cheap to moderately priced|
|Suitability for outdoors||Indoor use only||No|
|Suitability for wood carving||No||Some species|
|Workability||Easy to work with||Yes|
|Smell||Odorless||Faint, sweet odor|
|Availability||Easily available||Abundantly available|
|Special features if any||Maple syrup comes from maple sap||Knotty, rustic appearance|
Having read about the finer details of both these types of wood, you will agree that each one has unique features. As a woodworker, knowing about maple vs. pine in detail can be very useful in getting the best out of each one. You can select the most suitable wood for your next woodworking project. Try maple or pine for some spectacular results!