Most people know maple syrup comes from maple trees and maple is a type of hardwood, but there’s a lot more to know about this popular wood which is sought after for everything from rocking chairs or dining room buffets.

Maple wood is classified in one of two groups. Hard maples include both the sugar maple, (also known as rock maple) and the black sugar maple.  Soft maples have more varieties including the red maple, silver maple, and big leaf maple.

The majority of commercial hard maple is grown in the Great Lake states and the Mid Atlantic.  Different varieties of hard maple have a fine, even texture.  It is a stiff, strong wood which typically resists shrinkage.  Sugar maple wood usually displays a straight even grain pattern with lines running closely together. However curly and Birdseye patterns are not uncommon.  Unusual wood grain designs are often sought out for novelty chairs and tables or toys.

Most types of soft maple are grown in the eastern US.  The big leaf maple, however, grows along the Pacific coast. Soft maple has a similar appearance to hard maple but is usually lighter in color and is not as heavy or hard.  These varieties are also used for furniture and veneers.  Both hard and soft maple is rated as superior for holding nails and maintaining its integrity.

The natural light wood color often animates and opens up rooms.  It’s popular for nurseries and children’s furniture.  If you are faced with a room which receives poor natural light, consider using maple furniture to soften and brighten the space. A maple chest in the foyer or under a hall window adds a fresh and welcoming touch.

If you are a real fan of maple, why not get a maple table and chair set and enjoy pancakes with real maple syrup every morning!