Other than being about 30% softer, having more color variations and being somewhat less expensive, Soft Maple is very similar in most respects to Hard Maple. “Soft Maple” is not a specific species of maple, just a broad term to describe the type of maple. Whereas “Hard Maple” is typically specifically referring to the maple species Acer Saccharum. There are several different maple species that are considered “soft maple”, including Bigleaf Maple, Box Elder, Red Maple, Silver Maple, and Striped Maple. Each of these maple species vary in strength, hardness, weight, and characteristics but all are considered soft maple. Soft Maple has a general Janka Hardness rating of 950, but varies per species (see Janka Hardness of Maple Species chart).
Just because hard maple appears to be the best wood, based on the wood hardness scales, it may not be the best type of wood for every wood project. Soft maple can actually be used as a valid substitute for hard maple on some projects calling for a moderately dense wood. Soft maple is slightly easier to machine, won’t dull cutting blades as quickly, or burn as rapidly when being shaped as hard maple. It glues, screws, and nails satisfactorily. It dries slowly with minimal shrinkage and movement. It can be polished and stained to an excellent finish, especially in brown tones. It can also be stained and finished to look a lot like a cherry wood. However, if your wood project requires a hard strong wood (ie. a workbench, butchers block, flooring etc..) then it would be best to stick with hard maple.
Hard maple (Janka 1,450) is roughly twice as hard as soft maple (Janka 950), because it grows about half as fast as soft maple. However, in most cases hard maple is nearly twice the cost of soft maple. There are basically four ways to tell the difference between hard maple and soft maple, which is another whole article in itself, but the basics include: the weight of the wood, the look of the endgrain, a chemical testing, and examining the leaves on a living tree.
ABOUT OUR SOFT MAPLE STAIR PARTS
Our soft maple stair prices are about the same price as our Ash wood stair parts, and just slightly higher than our Beech Wood and Alder wood stair parts. Our soft maple stair parts are of top quality, affordable, and made in the USA. Soft Maple stair systems and parts are very available coast to coast, but the soft maple species may vary. We can typically have soft maple material delivered to our mill the same day and produce custom soft maple stair parts within days.
Our most popular soft maple stair parts by category include:
6A10 Soft Maple Handrail – Inexpensive popular handrail with wood stair customers. SKU LJ-6A10
6041 Soft Maple Handrail – For those looking for a wall mounted handrail for an enclosed stairway. SKU LJ-6041
4091 Soft Maple Box Newels – SKU – LJ-4091 – Available as a fluted box newel, standard box newel, and raised or recessed box newels.
5300 Soft Maple Balusters – ¾” Hampton pin top soft maple balusters work well with the 6010 or 6000 stair handrail. SKU LJ-5300 – This Hampton pin top is also available in ¼” with the 5200 series LJ-5360
Soft Maple Stair Treads – SKU LJ-8070 – Available on our website in 36”, 42”, 48”, 54”, and 60” lengths. Or we can custom make soft maple stair treads to suit your needs.
For the best soft maple hand railing, stair balusters, treads, risers, winder treads, and stair fittings check out our wood stair parts catalog!
We offer everything from soft maple baluster, soft maple handrails, and soft maple wood stair treads. Although the name Soft Maple may have you thinking it would be more susceptible to scratches and dents but it is actually much more scratch resistant than softer woods. It has several natural grain options to choose from and is compatible with clear coating. Soft Maple is very similar in looks to hard maple, yet distinguishable from many other different types of wood – if are looking for a hardwood, but would like a darker and more unique you may want to look at our more exotic woods like Brazilian Walnut or Purple Heart. Whether you are looking for hard maple, or soft maple stair parts, either would provide a classic wood look – Soft Maple provides the same maple look without the hard maple price.