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If you are looking for a good type of wood to use for construction, then look no further, because maple is always a fantastic option. This wood is known for being very hard, durable, and strong overall. It’s a structurally sound material that can be used for many different purposes.

Moreover, it’s also resistant to moisture, so it’s ideal for outdoor purposes. With that being said, many people do wonder whether maple is a hardwood or a softwood, and how strong it actually is. These questions and more are exactly what we are here to answer today.

## Is Maple a Hardwood or a Softwood?

The maple tree is a deciduous tree that is a part of the angiosperm family, which means that it doesn’t lose its leaves in the autumn and during the colder season. On that note, because it is an angiosperm, it is also classified as a hardwood. Yes, the maple tree is a type of hardwood, not softwood. However, there are many different kinds of maple trees, as you are going to see below.

As far as North American hardwoods are concerned, some types of maple are exceedingly hard, while others are moderately hard. However, in the grand scheme of things, most varieties are very hard and durable. Let’s get to it and take a closer look at all of the different kinds of maple trees and exactly how strong they are based on a variety of factors.

## Maple Wood Strength: All You Need to Know

Right now, we’re going to compare all of the different types of maple out there based on five main factors, with the aim being to determine exactly how strong they are, and what the strongest type of maple is. We will be examining maple wood based on compressive strength, bending strength, stiffness, density, and hardness.

The types of maple we will examine include hard (sugar), silver, bigleaf, black, birdseye, quilted, striped, field, Norway, sycamore, red, ambrosia, Florida, and mountain maple.

### Compressive Strength

Let’s take a look at the compressive strength of all of the different types of maple:

- Hard maple – 7,830 lbf per square inch (54 MPa)
- Silver maple – 5,220 lbf per square inch (36 MPa)
- Bigleaf maple – 5,950 lbf per square inch (41 MPa)
- Black maple – 6,680 lbf per square inch (46.1 MPa)
- Norway maple – 8,560 lbf per square inch (59 MPa)
- Sycamore maple – 7,980 lbf per square inch (55 MPa)
- Red maple – 6,540 lbf per square inch (45.1 MPa)

In terms of compressive strength, Norway maple comes in first place, with sycamore at second, and hard maple at third. As far as hardwoods go, maple features average compressive strength.

For those of you who don’t know, compressive strength is also known as crushing strength. This measurement refers to how much weight a piece of wood can take parallel to the grain.

In other words, how much of a load can you put on a piece of wood vertically before it starts to buckle? As an easy-to-visualize example, imagine you placing a lot of weight on a table. How much weight can those table legs take before they buckle and snap sideways?

### Bending Strength

Let’s take a look at the bending strength for all of the different types of maple:

- Hard maple – 15,800 lbf per square inch (109 MPa)
- Silver maple – 8,900 lbf per square inch (61.4 MPa)
- Bigleaf maple – 10,700 lbf per square inch (73.8 MPa)
- Black maple – 13,300 lbf per square inch (91.7 MPa)
- Field maple – 17,830 lbf per square inch (109 MPa)
- Norway maple – 16,680 lbf per square inch (115 MPa)
- Sycamore maple – 14.220 lbf per square inch (98.1 MPa)
- Red maple – 13,400 lbf per square inch (109 MPa)

Field maple features the highest bending strength, followed by Norway maple, and then hard maple. The bending strength is also referred to as the modulus of rupture.

Unlike compressive or crushing strength, which is all about how much weight a piece of wood can take parallel to the grain, bending strength is about how much weight a piece of wood can take perpendicular to the grain.

For example, imagine hanging a stick horizontally on a wall, and then hanging a bucket off of the end of it. How many rocks can you put in that bucket before that piece of wood snaps and sends the bucket crashing downwards?

### Stiffness

Let’s take a look at how stiff all of the different types of maple are:

- Hard maple – 1,830,000 lbf per square inch (12.62 GPa)
- Silver maple – 1,140,000 lbf per square inch (7.86 GPa)
- Bigleaf maple – 1,450,000 lbf per square inch (10 GPa)
- Black maple – 1,620,000 lbf per square inch (11.17 GPa)
- Field maple – 1,711,000 lbf per square inch (11.8 GPa)
- Norway maple – 1,538,000 lbf per square inch (10.6 GPa)
- Sycamore maple – 1,438,000 lbf per square inch (12.62 GPa)
- Red maple – 1,640,000 lbf per square inch (11.31 GPa)

The stiffest type of maple is hard maple, followed by field and red maple.

For those of you who don’t know what stiffness is, this may also be referred to as the modulus of elasticity. This is all about how much weight a piece of wood can hold before it begins to bend.

In other words, how much weight can a piece of wood take perpendicular to the grain before it starts to sag? Imagine a 2×4” supported on either side by a cinder block, with you standing on the middle of it. How much weight do you have to put on the middle of that board before it begins to sag?

### Hardness

Let’s take a look at how hard all of the different types of maple are:

- Hard maple – 1,450 lbf
- Silver maple – 700 lbf
- Bigleaf maple – 850 lbf
- Black maple – 1,180 lbf
- Field maple – 1,150 lbf
- Norway maple – 1,010 lbf
- Sycamore maple – 1,050 lbf
- Red maple – 950 lbf

The hardest type of maple is hard maple, followed by black maple, then by field maple.

This measurement simply refers to how hard the surface is, or in other words, how resistant it is to physical damage, such as scratching and denting. This is usually measured on the Janka hardness scale.

### Density

Let’s see how dense or heavy all of the different types of maple are:

- Hard maple – 44 lbs per cubic foot (705 kilograms per cubic meter)
- Silver maple – 33 lbs per cubic foot (530 kilograms per cubic meter)
- Bigleaf maple – 34 lbs per cubic foot (545 kilograms per cubic meter)
- Black maple – 40 lbs per cubic foot (640 kilograms per cubic meter)
- Field maple – 43 lbs per cubic foot (690 kilograms per cubic meter)
- Norway maple – 40.3 lbs per cubic foot (654 kilograms per cubic meter)
- Sycamore maple – 38 lbs per cubic foot (615 kilograms per cubic meter)
- Red maple – 38 lbs per cubic foot (615 kilograms per cubic meter)

The heaviest type of maple is hard maple, followed by field maple, then Norway maple.

The density of wood simply refers to how heavy a piece of wood is in regard to a specific area or size. This is usually measured in pounds per cubic foot or kilograms per cubic meter.

Knowing how dense a piece of wood is can be important because it tells you something about its durability, as well as how easy that piece of wood is to work with.

## Is Maple Strong?

In terms of overall strength, maple is a hardwood, and it is fairly average. As far as hardwoods that can be found in North America go, maple is pretty middle of the line in most regards. It’s not the strongest and it’s not the weakest, and this goes for all five of those categories as discussed above.

## Summary

You should now know everything there is to know about how strong maple is, as well as whether or not you want to use it for your next project.