In this post, we compare two types of wood that are intrinsically different from one another, yet equally popular in woodworking circles. While teak is more exotic and often used in Asian furniture and smaller projects like cutting boards, Maple is readily available in North America and relatively affordable wood. Below we’ll give more information on teak vs. maple wood and the benefits we get from each type of wood is of particular interest to woodworkers. Once you have read this post, you should have a better idea about these two fine varieties of wood and how you can best use them.
Teak vs. Maple
Teak is a relatively hard variety of wood with a hardness of 2,330 (Janka hardness). It has a high degree of resistance to scratches and dents, but not as much as maple. But teak resists rot due to moisture, mold, mildew and insect attack quite well. It is all thanks to the natural oil that this wood secretes, which provides natural protection. These factors added to the fact that teak is not easy to procure, make it an expensive wood.
Maple, on the other hand, although quite a versatile wood is not as durable as teak. The case in favor of maple is that it grows quite abundantly almost all over the northern US and Canada, making it a cost-effective option as compared to teak. Although Maple is not as hard as teak at 1,400 to 1,500 (Janka scale), as a cheaper option, it serves quite effectively as a substitute for teak. However, you will not be able to use maple furniture outdoors the way you can with teak.
The botanical name for teak is Tectona Grandis, and it grows in tropical forests in Asia. It first used to grow in Myanmar and has been used since the 7th century to adorn the houses of rich, wealthy people. It was later used by the Dutch to build boats and ships.
Teak is exceptionally resistant to rot because of the natural oil it contains, which enhances its durability. This wood has been on the endangered wood species list for some time now, and dealing in teak continues to be illegal in many countries. Some countries have taken the initiative to control the cultivation and trading of teak wood, to make it a sustainable wood source once again.
Maple has a fair degree of hardness, and at 1,400 to 1,500 (Janka scale) it serves as strong wood, particularly suitable for making furniture. On finishing, maple shows character, and it takes stains and oils quite well. Woodworkers and furniture makers favor this wood a lot, due to the light, creamy shades, and its smooth grain pattern. It has a high degree of durability, but it is best used indoors.
Maple trees grow at various regions across the world, but the wood that you get in the US comes from hard maple, whose botanical name is Acer saccharum, and it also goes by the name of sugar maple and rock maple. The maple leaf features the national flag of Canada, and it is the national symbol of that country. The resin that the maple tree secretes is the prime ingredient for maple syrup.
Teak vs. Maple: Appearance
Teak wood comes with a mostly straight grain, but you may observe some waviness. The heartwood exhibits a golden to medium-brown coloration that darkens with age. The surface of teak has a natural luster, mainly due to the natural oils contained in the wood.
When freshly-cut, maple is creamy-yellow but it darkens to a reddish-brown if exposed to sunlight for a prolonged period. Due to the color-changing property of this wood, it is more of an indoor wood. As compared to other types of wood, you get a variety of grain patterns from maple, and the appearance can be even more spectacular in the case of spalted maple.
Teak vs. Maple: Durability
Teak is one of the most durable types of wood that you can find and far more durable than hard maple or any other variety of maple. The fact that teak was used for building boats and ships since time immemorial bears witness to the durability of this wood. The natural oils present in teak provides enough protection to teak so that it can be used to make outdoor furniture as well.
Although perhaps not as durable as teak, maple still has a high degree of hardness, and hence more durable than many other types of wood. Maple also has a high resistance to heat, cold, and moisture, which makes it possible to use in bathrooms and kitchens.
Maple is one of the harder woods, having a Janka hardness value of 1,400 to 1,500 (Janka scale), which makes it quite durable. It also withstands moisture and high temperatures quite well, making it suitable for use in kitchens and bathrooms. However, due to the way maple changes color when exposed to prolonged sunlight makes it unsuitable for outdoor use.
Teak vs. Maple: Maintenance
When we talk about wood lasting a lifetime, you could say that teak almost achieves this. Some of the best grades of teak can last for 80 years or more. Maple, on the other hand, will last for a fraction of the number of years that teak lasts. The secret to long-lasting teak is proper maintenance.
Maintaining teak is a bit tedious, but not that difficult. It needs a good first finish and should be waxed regularly to provide an adequate luster to the surface and some degree of water resistance. Teak needs to be refinished every few years.
Maple responds well to a suitable finish. But you need to apply the finish properly to avoid a blotchy surface after staining the wood. You can clean maple furniture by using a dry cloth (or dry mop in the case of flooring) and later with mild detergent and warm water. Ensure that spills and stains on maple are cleaned up as soon as possible. If you take these precautions with maple, you don’t need to maintain it much.
Teak vs. Maple: Price
When it comes to price, there is a vast difference between the cost of teak and that of maple. Teak is on the endangered species list, while maple is not. Hence, you can expect the price of teak to be exorbitant, and it is. Maple, on the other hand, is readily available and a sustainable type of wood, so you will end up paying considerably less for maple wood.
Teak vs. Maple: Sustainability
Teak is not a sustainable wood anymore, although governments of some nations have stepped forward to control the production and sale of teak. However, teak remains a scarce commodity.
Maple, however, is a different story. It grows abundantly, making it readily available and a much cheaper variety of wood. It also grows much more rapidly than teak. Hence, we can conclude that maple is a sustainable type of wood.
Teak vs. Maple: Comparison Table
|Botanical name||Tectona grandis||Acer saccharum|
|Color||Golden to dark brown||Cream to yellow or reddish-brown|
|Durability||Highly Durable||Highly durable|
|Hardness (Janka Scale)||2,330||1,450|
|Strength||Very strong||Strong wood|
|Maintenance||Easy to maintain||Low maintenance|
|Suitability for outdoors||Suitable for outdoor use||Not suitable for outdoors|
|Suitability for wood carving||Yes||Yes|
|Workability||A hardwood to work on||Easy to work on but tends to burn with high-speed cutters|
|Smell||Leathery pungent smell||No characteristic odor|
|Availability||Extremely rare||Readily available in the US|
|Special features if any||Secretes natural oils that preserve the wood||The tree yields a resin that produces maple syrup|
We have chosen these two types of wood for comparison due to their popularity and unique differences that set each one apart. Once the benefits that you can get from teak and maple, you will now be eager to work on either or both of these wood types in your woodworking projects. While you are likely to procure maple easily, finding, teak may be more challenging.
It would be best if you were careful about the authenticity of the wood that gets handed over to you in the name of teak. But you can use the information we have provided here to ensure that the teak that you have is the real deal.
When you are into woodworking, you will come across many types of wood. It is always good to be familiar with different varieties of wood and what the benefits of each one are. Every wood species has its unique characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. If you have information on various types of wood, you can use them in your woodworking projects. Whether it is teak or maple, both types of wood will do well for you in your woodworking projects.