Oak vs. Maple Flooring: Pros and Cons Compared

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Oak vs maple flooring - differences, cost pros and cons

Oak flooring is good especially if you’re looking for durable hardwood flooring. But how does it compare to maple? Is maple flooring better than oak and how do they compare? If this is your question too, this article takes a deep dive into the comparison, differences, pros, and cons of oak vs maple.

The choice between the two types of wood floors is usually informed by different aspects such as durability, color options, strength, and hardness. Generally, these two wood floor types offer the same qualities, with subtle differences that can be overlooked.

Most homeowners may choose to go with maple, but oak is also fairly as popular. Oak usually gives a lifetime performance because it can be refinished. If done by a professional, sanding, color matching and touch-ups can give it a superior appearance over a long time.

Which one is harder – Oak or Maple?

When it comes to strength, maple is harder than oak wood. The Janka hardness test is often used to determine the strength of wood by measuring the resistance of a wood sample to denting and wear and tear.

According to the oak vs maple hardness Janka test, oak has a score of 1290 while maple is rated 1450. Therefore, of the two, maple will prove the hardest hardwood material for flooring, but that does not mean red oak performs so poorly in terms of durability.

If you’re using this comparison to determine the hardest hardwood floor to install, the best would be hickory, which is rated 1820 on the Janka hardness test.

The hardness test is useful when it comes to deciding where you want to install the floor. For example, some people want to install a wood floor in high traffic areas such as stairs to minimize damage.

Others may choose to install either oak or maple for aesthetic purposes. White oak and red oak, for example, are very beautiful even though they may not be the hardest compared to maple hardwood.

Hard with a rating of 1290 Janka hardnessHarder then oak with a rating of 1450 Janka hardness
Durable flooring,and hard enough to last longer.Highly durable flooring that can last for decades.
Red Oak more popular due to heavy grains, nice-warm-rosy undertone. Fairly popular compared with Oak.
Has different colors. White Oak stains evenly with beautiful finish. Has creamy look and adds aesthetic value when used in some house sections.

Durability – Which one lasts longer?

In some cases, the durability of wood is determined by looking at the pattern and intensity of the grain. Both maple and oak may have very different grain patterns even though their weight is more or less the same. Their durability is also fairly the same.

Note that hardness does not directly translate into durability. The longevity and appearance of all solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring depends more on the conditions and method of installation.


Which of the two is the most commonly installed in homes? People looking for the hardest wooden floors often choose hickory, but when it comes to maple and oak, the popularity index of oak is fairly high.

The reason why red oak is very popular is that it has fairly heavy grains and has a nice, warm, rosy undertone. This gives it the edge of beauty as well as the impression of hardness or durability.

To the eye, this durability of floors can be easily believable but as per the tests, it may not outdo maple.


Oak has different colors that make it very attractive for different homeowner flooring needs. The white oak flooring stain evenly, making it end up with a beautiful finish that may not be easily achieved with maple.

Maple, on the other hand, also has its own beauty points. It has a creamy look, and that is why some people use it to enhance the aesthetics of some sections of their houses.


Maple vs oak cost, maple is slightly cost friendly than oak with a price tag of $7 to $11 per square foot for materials and installation. Oak flooring cost more with price range of 1$ to 6$ more than maple flooring per square foot. However, in some cases the prices may be about 15$ or more per square foot or more for both oak and maple flooring.

Oak vs Maple Floors Pros and Cons

Before you choose, understand what pros and cons you will be dealing with – from cleaning to maintenance, cost implications to installation charges, and much more.

Pros of Oak Hardwood Floors

The following are the advantages of oak flooring compared to maple.

  • The stability of oak floors is higher compared to that of maple, or even hickory in this case.
  • The aesthetic value of white oak floors is impressive and that is why it is a more common flooring option for homeowners preferring hardwood floors.
  • Oak stains very well, leaving the planks looking uniform and professionally done.
  • Oak is cheaper compared to maple, so if you’re building a home on a budget, this can fit in so well for you.

Cons of Oak Hardwood Floors

Despite the advantages, you may find oak wooden floors to have the following disadvantages:

  • Oak is a very heavy hardwood and as such, it can have serious effects on the floor especially if not installed by a thorough professional.
  • Blight is also a common problem with oak trees, and in some instances, it may affect the appearance and strength of the wood.

Advantages of Maple Wood Floors

Maple is by far the number one choice for most people constructing contemporary homes. It offers a variety of finishes to choose from while still giving impressive durability. Here are some of the pros of maple wood floors over oak.

  • Maple has a subtle grain structure, making it a great choice for finishing large and open spaces.
  • It is suitable for both high traffic and low traffic areas of the home.
  • Maple floors are more stable compared to wooden floors made of other species of hardwood trees.
  • Maple floors are more resistant to dents and surface scratches due to its’ little porosity.

Disadvantages of Maple

Even though maple is usually chosen over oak, it has its own downsides, some of which are as follows:

  • Despite the stability and hardness, some maple floors start to bend and twist faster than oak, especially in extreme weather conditions.
  • The color choice of your floor when it comes to maple may be a bit limited unless you choose from prefinished ones. If you’re looking to patch up a small area of your home, you may find it difficult to find the right color.

In conclusion, selecting between oak and maple hardwood flooring can be challenging. Each of these two species of trees makes hardwood flooring that comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. What you shouldn’t forget is that both maple and oak floors will require special maintenance to keep them looking great and even last long.

Maple is lighter, brings a contemporary look in your house, with a decent performance at an affordable price tag. Oak flooring provides a traditional homes appeal with longevity, more grain pattern, but more costly. White oak flooring ranks on top choice for an area that needs water and decay-resistant wood floor. Oak flooring ranks as the best option where grain pattern counts to provide a richer flooring apple.

Is Maple a hard or soft wood?

Maple is a hardwood from broad-leaved deciduous trees. It’s available in many varieties rock, hard, soft silver, sugar, all of which are hardwoods since they have tree leaves. The tree leaves look determines it as hardwood while the needle-like or scales groups it as softwood.

Is maple wood expensive?

Maple has great aesthetics grain that increases its demand. However, it’s more abundant and grows larger making it less expensive than Walnut but still more costly than some hardwoods due to its strength and attractiveness.

Is Oak cheap or expensive?

Oak is one of the most sought and used woods for furniture, flooring, and other structural use. However, it one of the most expensive hardwood flooring in terms of initial costs but less expensive when compared to walnut and other maintenance costs.

Source and Reference

Hosking wood: Wood hardness chart?

Photo of author


Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

3 thoughts on “Oak vs. Maple Flooring: Pros and Cons Compared”

  1. “some maple floors start to bend and twist faster than oak, especially in extreme weather conditions”….

    SW Washington… wonder if this is extreme weather?
    The humidity I know affects our cabinetry…. and the craftsmanship on the house is a little suspect… floors are not perfectly level. We have old laminate we will replace as the kitchen is overhauled. You can feel the uneven spots with the laminate flooring but no strips stick up noticeable. I really want hardwood, not so much “engineered” and have been reading about white washed white oak when “maple” popped up. Thoughts?


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