Oak vs. Maple Flooring: How Do They Stack Up?

Kenneth Wilson

If you're looking for durable hardwood flooring (Related: Is Hardwood Flooring In A Bathroom A Good Idea? (Pros, Cons & Everything You Need To Know)), oak and maple floors are both excellent options to consider. Both can give you distinct, durable floors with warm hues.

We talk to homeowners daily, and we've been noticing a pattern of questions such as: How does oak flooring compare to maple? Is maple flooring better than oak? Which one is cheaper than the other?

So if you happen to have the same questions, we got you covered in this article. We'll take a closer look at oak vs. maple flooring, their price, pros and cons, and more.

Oak vs. Maple Flooring: An Overview

In comparing oak vs. maple flooring, the better choice usually boils down to the more durable option, color options, and hardness. Both wood flooring options have similar qualities that their differences sometimes get easily overlooked.

The majority pick maple, but oak wood floors are also increasingly popular. You can count on oak flooring to last a lifetime as you may refinish it often. Professional touch-ups, in particular, can maintain their appearance for more extended periods.

Oak Flooring

Oak is dubbed the "king of hardwood flooring" for a good reason. It's an excellent durable wood that takes stains very well. Aside from that, there are other advantages to consider.


  • Elegant Aesthetic: Gorgeous hardwood oak floors can be as old as 200 years old. Historically, these floors are considered a sign of luxury as they add prestige and sophistication to any space. Oaks with prime grades are cleanly cut, offering a contemporary look. Meanwhile, rustic oak cuts have plenty of knots and antique-looking grain patterns.
  • Plenty of colors to choose from: Oak floors are available in different natural shades, from dark hues to limed white. Accordingly, you may also stain them with your color of preference. New quick-dry stains can set within hours, and you can coat it with polyurethane as fast as the next day.
  • Easily accessible: Oak wooden floors are readily available across the country. Not to mention, it's also reasonably priced.
  • Active grain patterns: Oak floors have an active grain pattern to conceal minor scratches and dents. This will help you save on repair and maintenance costs.


  • Oak is a heavy hardwood, which makes the installation process more difficult. You may want to hire a professional to carry out the installation safely.
  • It is common for oak trees to deal with blight-related problems. In some cases, it may ruin the wood’s appearance or strength.

Maple Flooring

Contemporary homes love maple floors. Homeowners can choose from different finishes to choose from– with the added benefit of excellent durability.


  • Suitable for contemporary designs: With its light finish and clean surface, the subtleness in maple flooring makes it a great option for open spaces.
  • Harder than oak: Although maple wood is more rigid than oak, it’s not as stable.
  • Staining is now possible: Unfortunately, maple isn't the best material for custom staining. This doesn’t mean it’s completely impossible, though. Latest factory staining techniques and UV color technology help stain maple flooring in different hues. With the lack of grain, homeowners can expect a precise color.


  • Noted to bend or twist faster than oak floors, despite its hardness. This is commonly observed if your property is located in an area with extreme weather conditions.
  • Limited color choices. You may choose pre-finished ones instead. Patching up a specific area in the home may be difficult if you can’t find the right color to use.

Oak vs. Maple: What's the Difference?

Hardness Janka Test

To determine the strength of wood, the Janka hardness test was introduced to find out its resistance to denting and wear and tear.

Oak has a score of 1290, with maple having a 1450 rating. That said, maple proves to be the harder choice among the two.

Don’t worry; this isn’t to say red oak will have poor durability. You may still install oak floors in areas with less foot traffic for aesthetic purposes.


Simply put, hardness does not determine the durability of your wooden floors. Sometimes, wood durability can be determined through its pattern and grain intensity. Maple and oak have different grain patterns.

However, the longevity of wood flooring will still depend on its installation.

Average Costs

On average, maple is cheaper than oak, costing $8 to $13 per square foot to cover materials and installation. Oak flooring will slightly cost you more, around $15 per sq/ft.

Popularity among Homeowners

So, which is the more famous option among homeowners? Generally, oak floors prove to be more famous for residences in the country.

Thanks to its heavy grains and a warm, rose-colored undertone, we can pinpoint oak's popularity. Not only does it add a dash of elegance to your space, but it is also expected to be durable.

However, the Jenka ratings do not lie. Oak cannot outdo maple in terms of durability and hardness.


Oak floors are an attractive choice for all your flooring needs, mainly because they are available in different colors.

White oak flooring stain coats evenly, giving you a beautiful floor that’s quite challenging to achieve with maple wood. Meanwhile, maple presents a natural creamy appearance. Some homeowners make the most out of this by using maple floors only in certain home areas.


Maple floorboards present a subtle grain pattern, which easily blends with modern decor. The light appearance of maple adds a sense of uniformity to large, open spaces.

In contrast, oak wood floors offer more personality. It’s considered classic hardwood flooring, complementing both contemporary and traditional interior spaces.

Oak vs. Maple: Which is the Better Choice?

Choosing between oak or maple flooring boils down to personal preference and budget. If your budget permits, oak floors provide more grain patterns and stains well– though it comes at a cost.

On the other hand, you can count on maple wood’s durable hard surface. You may have a hard time staining it evenly, though.

Both of these hardwood flooring options have their unique set of pros and cons. Don’t forget that these two require intricate, special maintenance to maintain their appearance for a long time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is maple hardwood or softwood?

Generally, maple is considered to be hardwood. It is available in several hardwood varieties such as rock, hard, sugar, and soft silver.
Pro tip: To determine a hardwood, see if it has tree leaves. If you notice scales or a needle-like appearance instead, chances are its softwood.

Is maple wood expensive?

Though maple wood boasts an elegant aesthetic and high demand among homeowners, it doesn't require you to break the bank. The tree usually grows large and abundant. Hence it's cost-effective pricing. However, it may be relatively pricier if you compare it to other hardwood.

Is oak cheap or expensive?

Oak has been a standard wood flooring material for many years. Yet, it's still considered a costly hardwood flooring option due to its high upfront costs. But, you can count on its cheap maintenance expenses to recoup the initial costs.

Final Thoughts

Now, the question goes: which among the two is best for your home? To sum it up, oak can be pretty superior to maple when it comes to your flooring needs. You can count on its durability, and it's also available in a broader range of grain patterns and colors.

Meanwhile, maple is an excellent choice if you're working with a tighter budget. Or simply, you may adore its look more.

Kenneth Wilson
December 31, 2021

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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