If you are planning on building a house, deck, shed, some furniture, cabinets, or anything in between, there is rarely a better choice than solid wood. Two extremely popular types of solid wood to consider include mahogany and maple. These are both very beautiful and common types of lumber to use, but there are some big differences between them.
Let’s figure out what makes these types of wood different from each other, and which one is best for you to use for specific purposes.
What Is Mahogany?
First, we have mahogany, which is a tropical hardwood tree that is generally found in the warmer parts of the Americas. This is a deciduous tree, which means that it does lose its leaves during the colder seasons of the year. This tree can however also be found in various parts of Asia and Oceania.
Mahogany wood has a very tight and straight grain that is sometimes interlocked and usually has no gaps, voids, or knots. It also has a very smooth texture. As for the color, mahogany is generally a deep reddish-brown, and will usually darken over time.
Mahogany is also a very dense and hard type of wood, and also contains a bit of natural resin and oils. This allows mahogany wood to be extremely durable and resistant to physical damage, moisture, and rotting, as well as fungus and pests. Due to its high level of durability, it is a good choice for both outdoor and indoor applications.
That said, mahogany wood is generally fairly expensive due to its aesthetic qualities and durability. This wood is therefore an excellent choice for various high-end applications, such as for making some beautiful doors and windows, furniture, cabinets, and other such pieces where aesthetic qualities are of paramount importance.
What Is Maple?
We then have the maple tree, which is another type of deciduous hardwood tree, found in the northern hemisphere. There are many species of this tree found in Asia, about 150 of them, which make up the vast majority of maple trees.
There are also about 10 other species of maple tree that are native to Canada as well as the United States of America. The most common type generally used for woodworking and construction purposes is hard maple otherwise known as sugar maple.
This wood usually has a relatively fine texture, combined with straight grain, although there may be some variations, and sometimes it can be a bit wavy, curly, or rippled.
The heartwood of maple has a reddish-brown color, although the sapwood is usually white or cream-colored, along with golden undertones, which is what is generally used for construction. Maple is usually harvested specifically for its sapwood.
Maple wood is one of the harder and denser types of hardwood found in North America, which is why it makes for a popular option for flooring, walls, furniture, musical instruments, and much more. It also contains a good bit of natural oils, which helps with rot, pest, and moisture resistance.
Mahogany vs. Maple: What Are the Differences?
Let’s figure out what the main differences between mahogany and maple wood are, so you can make an informed decision between the two.
One difference here is that maple is the harder of the two kinds of wood.
If we consult the Janka hardness scale, you will see that mahogany comes in at around 900 lbf, which is actually quite hard. However, maple comes in at over 1,450 lbf, thus making it much harder than mahogany. Both are resistant to physical damage, but maple is definitely the harder and stronger of the two.
What is interesting to note is that, although maple is the much harder of the two, it’s not quite as dense.
Maple comes in at about 44 lbs per cubic foot, whereas mahogany comes in at between 49 to 56 lbs per cubic foot, depending on the exact specimen. It is surprising that maple is both harder and lighter than mahogany, which is beneficial, as it makes it a bit more durable, yet also lighter and easier to work.
When it comes down to it, in terms of impact, scratch, and dent resistance, maple is the better of the two options. It’s just a bit harder, therefore making it stronger.
Pest and Moisture Resistance
Both mahogany and maple are resistant to moisture, and one could say that they are about even on this front. On one hand, mahogany is much denser, which means that moisture can’t penetrate it as easily, and it usually doesn’t have knots or voids. On the other hand, maple has more natural oils in it that prevent moisture from penetrating, plus it’s still pretty dense.
Appearance – Grain and Color
Maple has a fairly smooth texture, along with a straight grain (although the grain may also be wavy or irregular at times, combined with a few knots and voids, with a white-cream-golden color. Mahogany has an even smoother texture, along with a perfectly straight or interlocked grain, no knots or gaps, and a deep reddish-brown color. Most people would agree that mahogany is the better-looking of the two.
In terms of cost, mahogany is usually the more expensive of the two, coming in at roughly 15 dollars per board foot, whereas maple is going to cost between 8 and 14 dollars per board foot.
When to Use Mahogany Wood?
If aesthetics are your main concern, or in other words, beautiful appearance, we recommend mahogany, as it has a very deep and rich color, yet is also still durable. If you’re making high-quality furniture or cabinets, then mahogany is the way to go, especially if you don’t mind paying for it.
When to Use Maple Wood?
If you just need something super hard, durable, and resistant, such as for walls, floors, cabinets, furniture, and more, and you don’t want to pay quite as much, then maple is just fine.
Alternatives to Mahogany and Maple Wood
If you’d rather have some softwood and you’d like to save a bit of money when compared to maple or mahogany, options such as fir, pine, hemlock, and spruce all make for good alternatives.
We wrote in more details about wood similar to mahogany here.
As you can see, while both mahogany and maple are fine choices to consider, they are fairly different from one another, so choose wisely.