Maple and walnut are two popular wood types used for wooden projects. They each have unique perks that make them appealing choices for woodworking projects. But how do you know which one is right for your product?

Read on to find out more about the two wood types; their characteristics, similarities and differences, and uses of both maple and walnut wood.

Maple Vs Walnut: A Detailed Comparison

Here is a detailed comparison of the properties, uses, & pricing of Maple & Walnut wood:

What Is Maple Wood?

maple wood

Maple is a hardwood, coming from the sugar maple tree. It is deciduous, meaning that it loses its leaves in autumn and remains bare for a period of time before new foliage begins to grow.

One of the reasons why this tree is well-known is due to its sap. This sap can be used in the production of maple syrup which has a much stronger sugar content than other trees.

Maple trees are found in the temperate forests of North America, Europe, and Asia. They grow to around 90 feet tall and have rough, brown, or gray-colored bark.

What are the Benefits of Maple Wood?

Maple wood is a popular option for a variety of applications due to its numerous beneficial qualities. 

Wood is a beautiful, sustainable, and elegant wood that has been used to make furniture for hundreds of years. It is characterized by its straight grain, uniform color, and smooth texture.

Maple wood can be easily stained or painted to suit a variety of design styles and color schemes, making it a versatile choice for home decor. Also, it is long-lasting and has good resistance to moisture and decay.

The major drawback of maple wood is that it is prone to scratches. Maple has a light color and few grains, so it’s easier to see scratches and marks on it. Pets’ claws may leave noticeable scratches on the wood.

Another disadvantage of maple wood is that it can be challenging to glue the material.

What Is Walnut Wood?

Walnut wood blocks

A Walnut is a hardwood that comes from a deciduous tree. This tree, which grows in eastern North America, produces edible nuts when it is mature.

It grows to be about 120 feet tall with a trunk that can grow up to 40 inches in diameter. It has large leaves with pointed tips and a pungent smell when crushed. The two main species of walnuts are the Persian walnut (also called the English walnut) and the black walnut. The English walnut is native to Iran and the black walnut is from North America.

These deciduous trees are heavily used in the lumber industry and provide a number of benefits.

What are the Benefits of Walnut Wood? 

Walnut wood is known for its rich color and beautiful grain patterns. Its hardness makes it very durable, so it’s often used in construction projects.

The wood has some of the best bending properties of any wood species, hence, it’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for something that will hold up under stress or strain. Its fine straight grain makes it great for finishing projects such as cabinets, tables, chairs, etc.; it’s also very resistant to decay caused by mold or rot. The material glues well and has good shock resistance. 

The main disadvantage of the wood is that it tends to fade when exposed to direct sunlight.

1. Physical Characteristics: How Do Both Differ From Each Other?

Below are some of the physical characteristics of these two types of wood:

(a). Appearance

The appearance of wood varies based on factors like color, luster, texture, and grain patterns.

Maple Vs Walnut: Color 

Maple wood and walnut wood are both popular choices for a variety of woodworking projects as a result of their distinctive colors. 

Maple wood is known for its light, pale color, which ranges from nearly white to a creamy white with a purple, green, reddish or golden tinge. Walnut wood, on the other hand, has a much darker color, ranging from light brown to deep, rich brown.

The color of walnut wood can vary depending on the age of the tree and the growing conditions, but it is generally darker than maple wood. 

Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on the specific project and the desired appearance of the finished product.

Luster on wood

Both maple and walnut are beautiful woods that can add a touch of elegance to any project. They however have some differences in terms of their luster or shine when finished.

Maple wood tends to have a smooth and high, natural shine. It can be finished with a clear coat to enhance its natural luster or it can be stained to achieve a different color. While walnut has a naturally moderate luster and when finished with a clear coat, it can have a shiny appearance.

Maple vs Walnut: Grain Patterns 

The grain patterns of maple wood and walnut wood are slightly different. 

Maple wood is known for its straight grain pattern which can sometimes be wavy. The grain pattern in maple wood is subtle and refined. Walnut wood, on the other hand, is tight-grained and often more pronounced than maple wood. It is usually straight but can also be contorted.


The smooth texture of maple timber makes it a great material for furniture as it can be easily finished to a high gloss.

The texture of walnut wood is generally more open/porous than that of maple which gives it a slightly rougher feel.

Maple wood is generally smoother and more uniform than walnut wood. The texture of any type of wood, nonetheless, can vary depending on how it is cut and finished, so it is important to consider these factors when choosing between maple and walnut for a particular project.

(b). Hardness

Hard maple wood has a Janka hardness rating of 1450 lbf (6450 N) and a Janka rating of 950 lbf (4226 N) for soft maple wood. Walnut wood varies in Janka hardness depending on the specific species, but it generally falls in the range of 1010 lbf to 3684 lbf (4490 N to 16,356 N).

Black walnut has a Janka hardness of 1010 lbf (4,490 N). English walnut has a Janka hardness of 1220 lbf (5410 N). And Brazilian walnut is rated at 3684 lbf (16,356 N). 

In general, maple wood is harder than walnut wood. It is also more resistant to wear and denting, which makes it a popular choice for flooring and other applications where durability is important. 

(c). Density

The density of a wood type can affect its weight, strength, and other physical properties. Maple wood is slightly less dense than walnut wood. It has a density of 620 kg/ m³ which makes it suitable for furniture construction and other uses such as flooring. Walnut wood is denser than maple and the average density is 689 kg / m³. 

Denser woods are sturdier and more durable, but they may also be more difficult to work with and may require power tools. Less dense woods are easier to work with, but they may not be as strong or durable.

(d). Moisture-Resistance

Both maple wood and walnut wood are considered to be relatively moisture-resistant. However, they can still absorb and release moisture to some extent, and the amount of moisture they can hold will depend on factors such as the humidity and temperature of their environment.

Maple wood is known for its closed grain. The pores on the surface are small and tightly packed which makes it more resistant to moisture penetration. Nonetheless, it is not completely moisture-proof. The pores on walnut wood are slightly larger and more open than those of maple wood, so it is slightly more susceptible to water.

(e). Shrinkage & Swelling

Maple wood tends to be more stable and has lower shrinkage rates than walnut lumber. However, the amount of shrinkage can vary depending on the specific species of wood as well as the moisture content of the wood and the humidity conditions in which it is stored or used.

Maple is more prone to shrinking or expanding with changes in humidity. It typically has a high shrinkage rate, with tangential shrinkage of about 12% and radial shrinkage of about 5%.

Walnut is generally less prone to shrinking and expanding than maple. Tangential shrinkage for walnut wood is typically about 8% and radial shrinkage is about 6%.

(f). Thermal Conductivity

Thermal conductivity is a measure of how well a material conducts heat. It is a vital property to consider when choosing a material for applications where heat transfer is a concern; such as in the construction of buildings or the manufacture of household appliances.

The thermal conductivity of maple wood and walnut is around 0.125 W/mK. 

Both wood types are considered to have moderate thermal conductivity compared to other types of wood. Some woods such as oak have higher thermal conductivity values (0.197 W/mK), while others, such as Carolina poplar have lower values (0.090 W/mK).

2. Durability & Strength: Which Wood Is More Strong & Durable?

Both are commonly used in furniture and other woodworking projects because of their durability; they both have good resistance to wear and tear. However, there are some differences between the two kinds of wood in terms of their specific properties.

Maple is generally considered to be a harder and less dense wood than a walnut. It is also more resistant to dents and scratches. Maple is also known for its good shock resistance, which means it can withstand impacts without breaking or splintering. Maple wood can withstand the rigors of everyday use. It’s resistant to fungi but vulnerable to termites.

Maple wood is stronger than a walnut. The strength of these two kinds of wood may be more or less important depending on the project.

For example, if the wood will be subjected to heavy use or wear, such as in the construction of furniture or flooring, maple may be a better choice due to its greater strength and durability. But if the primary consideration is the appearance of the wood, walnut may be excellent as a result of its attractive dark color and grain pattern.

The walnut wood has good resistance to moisture and it can be used in all kinds of areas, including bathrooms and kitchens. It is not very resistant to rot and susceptible to attack by some insects. Among these insects, the moth stands out as the most problematic one.

There are a lot of ways to make your wood last longer, but the best way is to avoid factors that will cause decay. For example, don’t use untreated wood in a damp environment.

3. Walnut Vs Maple: Which Wood is More Workable?

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Walnut is very easy to work with just about any hand tool or power tool. No special tools are required to make a product from wood.

The density and straight grain pattern make it suitable for a variety of woodworking techniques. The wood, however, can be prone to splitting or chipping if it is not handled carefully. So ensure you use sharp tools and take appropriate precautions when working with them.

Maple wood is easy-to-work-with wood but it can be a bit tricky to work with hand tools. Its high density makes it more difficult to get the wood sawed, smoothed, and sanded. The wood is tough so you can get a lot of use from it without it splitting when being cut or drilled. With the right tools, you can turn maple lumber into furniture and veneers, or even use it as a cutting board. Maple wood can be used to make curved shapes and takes varnishing well.

4. Cost & Availability: Which Wood Is Affordable & Easy To Get?

Maple wood tends to be less expensive than walnut wood. This is due in part to the fact that maple is more abundant and widely available, while walnut is a more scarce wood. The price of a piece of maple or walnut wood can vary depending on factors such as:

  • Availability: Maple wood is widely available and found in most lumberyards. It is commonly grown in the United States, which makes it relatively obtainable. Walnut wood is not as widely available and may be harder to purchase. It is often used for high-end furniture and cabinetry and may be more expensive due to its scarcity.
  • Quality: The grade of a piece of wood can affect its price. For example, maple wood with a straight, even grain and minimal knots will typically be more expensive than maple wood with a more irregular grain pattern or a higher number of knots/defects. Similarly, walnut wood with a rich, deep color and a straight, even grain will typically be more expensive than walnut wood with a more subdued color or a more irregular grain pattern and defects.
  • Quantity: Purchasing a large order is usually more cost-effective than purchasing small orders. Suppliers often offer discounts for bulk orders, as it allows them to sell a larger quantity of product at once and reduces their overhead costs for handling multiple small orders.
  • Location: The location where the wood is sourced can also affect its price. Wood that is sourced locally may be less expensive than wood that is imported from a different region or country.
  • Size: standard size boards tend to be less expensive than longer or wider boards. This is because standard-size boards are easier to produce, which makes them less expensive to purchase. Longer or wider boards may require more specialized equipment to produce. 

It is also worth noting that the specific size of a board can affect its price, even within the range of standard sizes. For example, a 2×4 board may be less expensive than a 2×6 board

5. Uses & Applications

Maple and walnut are popular choices for woodworking projects due to their durability, versatility, and attractive appearance. Here are some common uses and applications for these wood types:

Maple Wood Uses:

When you hear maple you’re probably thinking of something other than wood— syrup. Maple is not just syrup: it’s a raw material that can be worked into products for your home or workplace.

  • Furniture: Maple is often used to make furniture, such as tables, chairs, and dressers due to its strength and durability. 
  • Kitchen cabinets: Maple is excellent for kitchen cabinets because the hardwood can withstand wear and tear. It is resistant to moisture which is important in a kitchen environment.
  • Heavy-duty flooring: Maple is popular for flooring due to its resistance to dents and scratches which makes it a good wood material for high-traffic areas. It is a versatile choice for different decor styles as it can be stained or finished in a variety of colors.
  • Musical instruments: Used for the construction of musical instruments such as guitars and drum sets due to their tonal qualities and even harmonics.

Other uses of maple wood are veneer production, kitchen accessories, baseball bats, toys, etc. Craftspeople, in particular, appreciate maple wood because of its unparalleled detail. It’s a great choice for carvers and sculptors alike.

Walnut Wood Uses:

Some common uses for walnut wood include:

  • Furniture: Walnut is often used to make high-end furniture, such as desks, tables, and chairs, due to its rich, dark color and attractive grain pattern. It is also a great fit for use in furniture that will be subjected to heavy use because of its strength.
  • Cabinetry: Walnut wood is used for cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms due to its attractive appearance and resistance to moisture.
  • Gunstocks: Wood is a popular choice for gun stocks due to its strength and ability to withstand the recoil of firearms.
  • Paneling: Walnut is often used for paneling in homes and offices as a result of its attractive appearance and durability. It is rot-resistant and has excellent shock resistance too.
  • Musical instruments: Walnut is sometimes used in the construction of musical instruments, such as guitars and basses, due to their attractive appearance and tonal qualities.
  • Veneer: It is sometimes used as a veneer for walls, floors, and furniture to project a sense of luxury. 
  • Craft projects: A great wood material for crafts because of its attractive appearance and versatility. It is easy to work with using a variety of tools.

Frequently Asked Questions

In regards to strength, maple is the superior wood. Walnut might not be as strong as maple, but it can also hold up to wear and tear. If you want to use wood for a product that will get a lot of use, then go with maple instead of walnut because it is more long-lasting.

Yes, it does. The color of maple wood will change over time from its light color to a warm golden honey tinge. This is because the wood reacts with oxygen in the air and sunlight to create a darker color.

Ironically, walnut wood gets slightly lighter in color over time. 

The natural screening effect of acrylic is a key element in maintaining the beauty and integrity of your maple furniture. It’s the best way to maintain the natural luster of your maple wood so it doesn’t yellow over time.

Apply a clear coat over the finished surface of your piece. This will help keep UV rays from penetrating into the wood; which can cause yellowing over time.

Walnut trees are not too tough to find yet the wood from them is one of the most costly luxurious wood types available for woodworkers.

Walnut is more expensive, but maple is of higher quality.

Key Takeaways

Both maple and walnut wood are perfect for projects due to their durability and versatility. Maple wood is popular amongst woodworkers for its creamy white color and its smooth texture with straight grain. It is easy to work with; making it a good choice for beginners.

While walnut wood is known for its rich, dark brown color and its attractive grain pattern. It is also prone to chipping or splintering if not handled carefully.

In terms of uses and applications, both maple and walnut are suitable for a variety of projects, including furniture, cabinetry, flooring, and musical instruments.

Ultimately, the two materials are great for various projects. The choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

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