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Wood Species

Janka Rating

Acer saccharum

Also known as: Bird's-eye Maple, Black Maple, Curly Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple, Rough Maple, Sugar Maple, Sweet Maple, Thumbnail Maple

Origin: Throughout most of North America. Commercial species are concentrated in the eastern United States and Canada, particularly in the mid-Atlantic and Lake states.


The sapwood of sugar maple is a lovely creamy white, while the heartwood ranges from creamy white to light reddish brown. This wood has a closed, subdued grain and a uniform texture, with medium figuring. The figuring is variously described as quilted, curly, "bird's-eye," and "fiddleback." During the grading process, interestingly figured boards are often culled from the group and sold at a premium. Due to its light color and durability, maple is a popular choice when a "contemporary" look is desired for a wood floor.

Resistance, Durability:

Like black maple (B. nigrum), sugar maple is classified as a hardwood (other species of maple are considered soft). And like teak and white oak, it has a high crushing strength. It is stiff, strong, dense, and extremely tough, with excellent shock resistance. It is notably resistant to abrasive wear; and for this reason, it is the hardwood flooring of choice for such high-traffic/hard-use locations as bowling alleys, basketball courts, and other sports facilities.

Janka Hardness: 1450

Hard maple is a harder and more durable variety of wood flooring. It is over twice as hard as Douglas fir, roughly six percent harder than white oak, about eighty-nine percent as hard as wenge, twenty-four percent softer than jarrah, and close to two thirds that of santos mahogany's ranking of 2200. In comparison, black sugar maple has a ranking of 1180.


Sugar maple is so hard that machining of the wood can be difficult. Yet it does sand satisfactorily. However, because of its density and light color, sanding marks and finish lines will stand out more clearly than in darker woods, so extra care must be taken when sanding and finishing maple hardwood floors. It is fairly resistant to splitting and has good holding ability.

Main Uses:

Sugar maple has been called "nature's perfect flooring," and it is known to have been used as a flooring for sports activities going back over 150 years. There is practically no limit to the uses that can be found for sugar maple. As flooring, it has been used to create a bright, cheerful, and elegant ambiance in countless homes, as well as providing a highly durable surface in gymnasiums, bowling alleys, and dance floors. In addition, this resilient wood is used for lumber, furniture, cabinetry, shoe lasts, tool handles, bowling pins, musical instruments, spools and bobbins, wooden novelties, piano frames, crates, and pulpwood. Last but not least, its sap provides a delicious, edible distillation in the form of pancake syrup.

What is a Janka Rating?

"It is one of the best measures of the ability of a wood species to withstand denting and wear. It is also a good indicator of how hard a species is to saw or nail.

The hardness of wood usually varies with the direction of the wood grain.

A common use of Janka hardness ratings is to determine whether a species is suitable for use as flooring."

Colored Bamboo

Some species have different janka ratings depending on how they have been treated.

Bamboo is one example of this. If left with a natural finish, Bamboo falls at 1380 on the hardness scale. If you carbonize it to get a darker color, the rank falls to 1180.

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