Quality wood furniture has always been popular. But there are multiple kinds of wood used to make furniture. Two of the most popular are cherry wood and maple wood. These two woods have many advantages and disadvantages.
The main differences between cherry wood and maple wood are how durable they are, how they look aesthetically, and how much they cost. Each of these factors presents different advantages and disadvantages of using this wood for your furniture.
We have put together an in-depth description of both cherry wood and maple wood and what they can be used for. We’ll also go over the advantages and disadvantages of using both woods for making furniture.
Table of Contents
A Comparison of Maple and Cherry Wood
While both maple and cherry wood can be used to make beautiful furniture, each of them has its good and bad features. The following table is a simple comparison between the two woods in four different categories:
|Cherry Wood||Dark reddish-brown color that sometimes has a golden undertone, straight grain, and smooth texture.||More expensive than maple, but it’s not the most expensive either. ||The more durable of the two. It’s resistant to decay, and weather changes and can still support more than twice its weight.||It has the same flexibility and softness as maple wood, making it easy to personalize.|
|Maple Wood||Usually, a cream color that has a straight grain and a smooth texture. ||Not the cheapest wood, but it also isn’t the most expensive. It’s also widely and readily available.||Resistant to scratches and can support more than twice its weight. ||Very soft and flexible, so it’s easy to work with and personalize. |
Cherry Wood Aesthetically Pleasing
Cherry wood is a member of the hardwood family, but it’s still soft enough to be easily carved. Despite this, it’s one of the most durable woods for furniture.
Cherry wood is also considered one of the most aesthetically pleasing woods because of multiple factors. These factors include its vibrant and diverse colors and its smooth and simple grain pattern.
The Colors of Cherry Wood
The most common colors of cherry wood include:
- Dark brown
Depending on how often the cherry wood is exposed to sunlight, its shade will darken over time. If you don’t mind this, then it’s alright to put it anywhere in your house. If you would rather the wood stay roughly the same color for a long time, it’s recommended that you keep it out of the sunlight as much as possible.
Going from lightest to darkest, the heartwood (the wood closest to the center of the tree trunk) has a light brown and pinkish color that turns into a rich reddish-brown shade when exposed to enough sunlight.
The sapwood is a little further out and has a pale yellow color, like lemon meringue. The darkest color comes from the wood directly beneath the tree’s skin, which is natural cherry wood. It has a brown color with a red tint, and it is most similar to the color of the fruit the tree bears.
The Grain Pattern of Cherry Wood
The grain pattern of cherry wood is very fine and straight, and it’s smooth to the touch for the most part. It might have some wood pith flecks, which can disrupt the pattern and the smooth texture. Pith flecks are inconsistencies in the grain pattern that include:
- Mineral Deposits
- Worm tracks that create a brownish streak
- Gum pockets
- Wood knots
Certain types of cherry wood may have more or less piths in them. For example, sapwood is more likely to contain gum pockets or worm tracks. You can select the type of cherry wood you prefer based on the grain pattern and color you like the most.
Advantages of Cherry Wood Furniture
Cherry wood has many good qualities that make it a prime candidate for constructing furniture. The most prevalent advantages of cherry wood are:
- Its aesthetic properties
- Its flexibility and how easy it is to work with
- Its durability
- It ages beautifully
- Its economically friendly
Aesthetic Properties of Cherry Wood
Cherry wood is one of the few woods that is beautiful on its own. It doesn’t need any staining when it comes off the tree trunk.
However, if you did want to improve the appearance of it, cherry wood takes to staining like a woodpecker to fresh bark. Whether it’s a stain with a more natural tone or a stain that makes the color even more vibrant, staining cherry wood enhances both the visual aspect of cherry wood and the smooth grain texture it has.
Cherry Wood Is Very Flexible
Cherry wood is considered a hardwood, meaning its thickness is greater than three quarters of an inch. Despite this, it’s one of the most flexible and easiest to work with woods out there. It is easy to:
Its flexibility can be used to create all different types of furniture designs, from the most simple to the most intricate. Cherry wood is most commonly used for creating furniture such as:
- Dining room tables
- Wood Cabinets
Cherry wood is so flexible because it has the property of having a straight grained pattern, meaning there aren’t very many grain lines that deviate from the pattern. Because of this, tools glide over cherry wood very easily, which makes it easier to carve.
Cherry Wood is Very Durable
Despite its flexibility and the fact, it’s easy to work with; cherry wood is very durable. When properly taken care of, it can last from fifteen up to twenty-five years. A few things you can do to make cherry wood last longer are:
- Keep it out of direct sunlight
- Polish it once or twice a year
- Be careful when moving the furniture
- Keep it clean by dusting it wiping it down
Since it’s so durable, cherry wood is the ideal wood to use if you need a piece of furniture that can hold some weight. It’s capable of holding items that are much heavier than it is and still remain in great shape.
Aging Properties of Cherry Wood
While keeping cherry wood out of direct sunlight will make it last longer, putting it in sunlight won’t damage it too much and even improve its appearance. Sunlight gives cherry wood a darker color over time, especially during the first two years the furniture spends under the sun.
This process is a little bit different for cherry wood that has been stained. When stained cherry wood is exposed to direct sunlight, the stain color fades away in a few years. But the natural color of the cherry wood is restored and even looks a little brighter.
So, unless you want to retain the stained or original color of the wood or make it last a little longer, putting it in the sunlight will make cherry wood age beautifully.
Cherry Wood is Economically Friendly
The primary place that cherry trees grow is in the eastern area of the United States, with the most prized wood being cut from the Allegheny Plateau. Because of where they are situated in relation to a forest mill, it leaves a less overall carbon footprint because of the shorter transportation routes.
Using American cherry wood also serves as a more economically friendly alternative to using woods that are shipped from the rainforest. So not only will your furniture look good, but it will also help save the planet as well.
Disadvantages of Cherry Wood Furniture
Despite all of its advantages, cherry wood has its fair share of disadvantages as well. The main disadvantages of using cherry wood for furniture are:
- It’s expensive
- It’s hard to find
- Less resistant to water damage
Cherry Wood Can Get Expensive
Cherry wood is considered one of the most premium woods in hardware and can get expensive. While it’s less expensive than woods such as mahogany or teak wood, it can still cost a few hundred dollars. The average cost for one board of cherry wood that measures six inches by one inch is about fifteen dollars, but that can add up fast.
By the time you reach six boards of cherry wood, you’re already at almost one hundred dollars. To make sure any piece of furniture is sturdy enough to function, you’re going to need multiple boards of cherry wood.
Cherry Wood is Pretty Exclusive
One of the reasons cherry wood is so expensive is because it’s highly sought after and hard to find. The aesthetic look and unique visual appeal of it makes cherry wood a hot ticket item for those that enjoy beautiful furniture.
It’s hard to find cherry wood for a few reasons. These reasons include:
- The color might not be what you want
- You’re using only one part of the cherry tree
- Cherry trees take a while to grow
Since cherry wood can be rather unpredictable in the colors it chooses to flaunt, the color you want might not be available. No one can control what color a board of cherry wood will be, so you might have a hard time finding the color you want. This can potentially be easily solved with using a stain, but stains are also not a guarantee that you’ll get the color you’re looking for.
Even though cherry trees are pretty common throughout the United States and some parts of Mexico, they aren’t that big. The typical cherry tree is only about fifty feet tall and only four feet in diameter.
This size makes it difficult to get solid boards of cherry wood that are longer than six inches. The smaller production size makes cherry wood a little harder to produce, and therefore harder to find.
Finally, cherry trees can take about fifteen to twenty years to grow enough to where wood can be taken from them. Because of this long gap in the growing process, cherry wood supply might be further diminished. Lumber farms usually have multiple batches of cherry trees growing at a time but adding this factor into everything else makes it clear that cherry wood is an exclusive material.
Cherry Wood is Less Resistant to Water Damage
While a little water spill won’t damage your cherry wood furniture completely, it can get damaged if enough water gets on it. Cherry wood can uphold itself under weight and time, but water can cause it to:
- Get little black spots
- Color can fade if stained
Water can cause the fibers that bind the wood together to break, and this results in the wood peeling back. If the wood manages to get soaked in water, little black spots of mold and fungus can appear. Finally, the coloring of a stain can fade, especially if the water is spilled onto it soon after the stain is applied.
To avoid damage and problems like this, simply making sure that your cherry wood furniture is kept dry and is placed in a dry environment. If you make sure, no water or moisture gets on the furniture, avoiding water damage should be fairly simple.
Cherry Wood Summary
Cherry wood has a very unique look to it that can’t be found anywhere else on the woodworking market. Its unique look is made even more apparent by how it ages over time and how it reacts to sunlight.
But the visual treat comes at a price since cherry wood is one of the more expensive woods out there. But if the beautiful look and the fact that cherry wood ages well are worth the price tag, then cherry wood can definitely be a worthwhile investment.
Maple Wood Has Strength and Beauty
Maple wood is an incredibly strong type of wood that is especially sought after for its light, creamy pale color and smooth grain. It also comes in two varieties, known as soft maple and hard maple. As far as furniture goes, maple wood is commonly used for:
- Bowling pins
- Bed frames
- Coffee and kitchen tables
- Hardwood flooring
The Color of Maple Wood
A unique feature of maple wood is that it usually isn’t the heartwood of the tree trunk you see being used in furniture. Rather, the sapwood is used for furniture. The sapwood of the maple tree tends to have a creamy white color with a slight tan undertone. It’s also known to have light reddish-brown streaks in it.
The natural look of maple wood is already aesthetically pleasing, but it also stains well and looks just as appealing. Certain staining colors bring out specific features of the maple wood, such as its natural cream color and little dark reddish-brown streaks embedded in the wood.
However, maple wood will still darken over time. While it won’t get nearly as dark as cherry wood, it can start to look more light brown than pale cream. You can slow down this process by keeping your maple wood furniture away from the sunlight, same as cherry wood.
Maple Wood Grain Patterns
Like cherry wood, maple wood has a straight grain pattern and is smooth to the touch. The primary difference between the grain patterns is that maple wood is even more fine. So fine that sometimes different patterns can be made, naturally or by hand, to customize and personalize furniture. Some of the most popular patterns to get, include:
- Wavy patterns
- Curly patterns
- Flame patterns
- Tiger stripe patterns
- Ripple patterns
- Birds eye view patterns
It’s a bit of a gamble when you use maple wood for your furniture since you don’t know what pattern you might get. You can get rid of the pattern by lightly sanding the wood until it’s smooth, but don’t sand it too much, or it can become less durable.
Soft Maple and Hard Maple
Technically speaking, “soft maple” is used as a term that describes several different species of maple trees. It has a greyish white color that sometimes has flecks of darker colored wood embedded in it. It’s about twenty five percent softer than hard maple and can bend fairly well while still being very strong. Despite this, it isn’t very stiff and has low shock resistance.
Hard maple, also known as sugar maple, is not only more durable than soft maple, but it is the most durable of the maple species. It has immense durability and strength, but it is very hard to work with and carve.
Advantages of Maple Wood Furniture
Maple wood is one of the top choices for wood furniture because of the many advantages it is. These advantages include:
- It looks visually appealing
- It’s easy to keep clean and maintain
- It’s affordable
- It’s more sustainable
- It’s very versatile
Visually Appealing with Warm Colors
With its wide range of warm colors, from a light cream to a rich brown, the natural beauty of maple wood is undeniable. In addition to the colors previously mentioned, maple wood can also come in shades of:
- Chromatic gray
The multitude of colors gives you numerous opportunities to find a shade that matches the decor of your home. Maple wood also has less grain than other woods, making it appear cleaner and neater.
Easy to Clean and Maintain
While maple wood has less grain than other woods, it still requires some maintenance. Maple wood can lose the slight golden luster it has over time because of dust and dirt. To solve this, you only need to wash it with soap and water once or twice a month. Even giving it a good wipe down with a kitchen wipe would do the trick.
You also might have to maintain the area around the maple wood furniture. Even though maple wood has less grain, it can still create a slight layer of grainy dust, especially on hardwood floors. But sweeping around the area whenever you notice this is a quick solution to this problem.
Maple Wood is Very Affordable
Maple wood is not the cheapest wood on the market, but it is much less expensive than cherry. While cherry wood was about fifteen dollars per six inch by one inch board, maple wood is typically only ten dollars per board. While the five dollar difference between the two prices doesn’t seem significant, it can add up fast. Maple wood is also widely available since it mostly comes from the abundance of maple trees that are in the U.S. and Canada. It’s one of the most widely available and affordable woods on the market.
Even though maple wood is one of the less expensive woods, that doesn’t mean its quality is any less worthwhile. In many cases, such as durability, it can outperform other luxury woods such as mahogany or teak wood. The fact that maple wood is so affordable is because it’s widely available, rather than low quality.
Maple Wood is More Sustainable
Because of the wide availability of maple trees that can supply both hard maple and soft maple, maple wood is available at a much larger scale than cherry wood. Maple wood also grows about twice as fast, meaning as soon as lumber is harvested, a new one can start almost immediately.
Since maple wood is also shipped in the U.S. and from Canada rather than across the world, it leaves less of a carbon footprint. The shortened travel distance gets you the wood you want faster and harms the planet a little less at the same time.
Maple Wood is Very Versatile
Maple wood is easy to carve and work with, so it can be used to create almost any piece of furniture that you want. It’s also resilient against weather inflicted mutations such as:
Maple takes staining very well, with the color lasting a long time and even enhancing the natural beauty of the maple wood. Maple wood is one of the most versatile woods to use to create custom made furniture.
Disadvantages of Maple Wood Furniture
Even though maple wood has many advantages, it also has its fair share of disadvantages. These include:
- Sensitivity to humidity
- Can scratch easily
- Color can fade over time
Sensitivity to Humidity
While maple wood is resistant to heat or humid weather, extreme humidity and heat can cause it to morph and change, including:
Contracting and expanding maple wood means the fibers that hold the wood together swell with heat and then release it, causing its size to diminish or to grow. If this happens to maple furniture, it can cause the frame or the screws to come loose, and the furniture falls apart.
But you only have to worry about this if you live somewhere that has extreme humidity. Essentially, if the weather is humid, almost eighty percent of the year, then maple wood furniture isn’t the best idea. An easy way to combat this is getting a dehumidifier to keep the air moisture balanced.
Maple Wood Can Scratch Easily
Even though maple wood is strong and durable in the sense it can last a long time and uphold more than its fair share of weight. It can still scratch easily. The light color of the wood makes scratches even more apparent, and the disruption of the smooth grain easily noticeable.
Fortunately, you can refinish the wood to make the scratches less apparent. Depending on how many scratches are on the wood and how often the wood gets scratched, you may have to refinish it a few times a year.
Color Fades Over Time
As is the case with cherry wood, the natural color of maple wood can change over time. But rather than getting darker, the color of maple wood usually fades the more it’s exposed to light. This can result in the wood having a dual toned effect, meaning the wood has the appearance of two different colors.
This effect can look very aesthetically pleasing to some. But if you would rather the wood maintain a solid natural color, make sure it stays away from natural sunlight as much as possible.
Maple Wood Summary
Maple wood is visually appealing and is easy to match with almost any decor since it comes in a variety of colors and is easy to stain. But in addition to looking beautiful in any home, maple wood is much more sustainable and affordable than cherry wood. Even though it’s less expensive, it has the same amount of durability and strength as cherry wood or other more costly woods.
The only thing maple wood isn’t too strong against is extreme heat and humidity. If you want to put your maple wood furniture outside, make sure where you live isn’t humid and is relatively cool most of the time. If the wood ends up shifting in size by expanding or contracting, then it can damage the wood and by extent the furniture.
Cherry wood and maple wood are both good candidates for creating furniture, and each one has good things and bad things about it. Whether you chose to use maple wood or cherry wood for your furniture, knowing what each of them have to offer and at what cost is important.
The similarities between cherry wood and maple wood are apparent, as both are sturdy woods and will last a long time. But the differences in appearance and maintenance between the two can be the deciding factor when choosing which one will work best for your family and your lifestyle.