Maple Vs Birch Plywood Comparison: 7 Differences In Detail

Maple plywood is excellent for fine furniture due to its elegant and subtle pattern in North America. Its hardness, consistent grain, and ease of working attract woodworkers from throughout the country. As a result, several products are made of maple plywood, such as kitchen cooking boards, cupboards, bowling pints, aisles, dance floors, house floors, etc. 

At the same time, birch is also a prominent name of plywood from Northern American forest due to its strength and incredible stiffness. Compared to maple, birch plywood is not less than durable.

Needless to say that it is hard to choose between them. Thus, this article provides deeper insights between maple vs birch plywood so that you can select the proper one for applications.

Overview Of Maple & Birch Plywood

Maple plywood

Maple plywood is a sturdy material made from wood sheets; then, it is compressed and covered with veneer. The scientific botanical name of this plywood is Acer Saccharum. Maple plywood often comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets available in ⅛ inch, ¼ inch, ½ inch, and ¾ inch thickness. Maple plywood is popular in Eastern North America.

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Birch plywood

Birch plywood – whose Latin name is “Betula pendula”- is pretty popular in construction projects. Unlike MDF, birch plywood uses veneers compressed together, usually with right angles with the plywood underneath, to form “cross bonded.” By doing this, woodworkers give birch plywood more resistance to shrinkage. 

Although birch plywood is not as hard as solid wood, the quality is not compromised. Compared to the strength and aesthetics, birch plywood is more powerful and appealing than other types of plywood, so it is often used for premium furniture only.

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Similarities Between Maple & Birch Plywood 

Availability

Maple and birch plywood is available in a wide range of colors and grains from light to dark, which suits both classic and contemporary interior design. Due to their high popularity, you can find maple and birch plywood in workshops throughout the USA.

Sustainability

Birch causes very minimal destruction to the biodiversity when being cut down for use. Therefore, birch is an ideal alternative for hardwood as it causes less harmful impact to the forest. Maple is also one of the most sustainable trees for wood because of its long life. In addition, it is also less devastating to forestry when trimming maple for wood.

Maple Vs Birch Plywood: 7 Key Differences

Appearance

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According to the appearance, maple plywood has a lighter color than birch plywood. The typical colour of freshly cut maple plywood is a light cream, yet it will gradually turn into reddish-brown if constantly exposed to direct sunlight. Therefore, maple plywood is not ideal for outdoor use.

Birch plywood, on the other hand, has a darker color than maple plywood. Thus, you won’t feel reluctant when using it for outdoor furniture. In addition, the grain structure of birch plywood is looser than that of maple. You can notice this characteristic to distinguish which is maple plywood and vice versa, birch plywood.

In addition to the grain characteristic, birch plywood often has a horizontal, longer grain structure and papery bark before milling. The maple plywood is usually straight, close grain with a fine, uniform texture of white sapwood. Some variants have a reddish tinge and tinge tannish heartwood. The grains of maple are distinctive and more knotty than birch.

Durability

In experts’ opinions, maple plywood is more endurable for vital external forces. Furthermore, maple plywood withstands high temperatures and moisture index quite well, so this type of plywood is often used for kitchen and bathroom furniture. In addition, it is also less prone to cracking, which makes it ideal for cabinet making.

Birch plywood is also highly durable; however, compared to maple plywood, birch is less water and temperature resistant, so it is not ideal for kitchen and bathroom. Birch plywood is rather chosen for doors, living rooms, dinner tables, TV stands, bookshelves as those items are less exposed to water and heat.

Stiffness

Maple plywood comes in two variants: hard and soft. Apart from the soft variant, divided into seven more irrelevant sub-categories, the rugged maple variant is more complex and denser than birch plywood. The particular index of maple is 1450, whereas that of birch is 1260. Due to this characteristic, maple plywood is stronger to vital force than birch plywood.

Workability

Both maple and birch plywood is easy to work with; however, maple plywood tends to burn with high-speed cutters. Therefore, burning is only for Force Majeure Clause. Otherwise, woodworkers should not burn maple plywood as it is very susceptible to fire. Instead, you can pre-drill for screwing or nailing. 

Birch plywood, on the other hand, requires more effort and tasks from woodworkers. For example, to handle a piece of birch plywood, woodworkers have to work with both hands and a combination of machine tools such as welders, lathes, etc.

Application

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The typical maple plywood is usually used for drums and butcher blocks. Hard maple plywood is often used for bowling aisles and dance floors. Due to its high-end characteristics, you can also find hard maple plywood in classic stand clocks. 

On the other hand, it is common to use birch for floors, crates, concealed furniture parts, knobs, chests, kitchen cupboards. So, what do these two share in common? Actually, they are both perishable and susceptible to bugs.

Maintenance

You should clean maple plywood with a dry cloth than wet ones because they may leave blotchy on the surface. For stiff stains, you can remove them with an exclusive cleaning liquid for maple plywood. 

When choosing the cleaning liquid from a store, remember to check the humidity of the liquid to ensure it does not exceed the accepted level. In addition, avoid using a liquid containing ammonia-based as it may destroy the surface of maple plywood.

For birch plywood, it is less susceptive to external factors than maple plywood. However, you also need to be careful and handle it with care when cleaning. It is also possible to remove stains with mild detergents with soft cloths to ensure dusting does not leave scratches on the surface of birch plywood. 

Metal scouring pads are completely forbidden when dusting maple and birch plywood as they will leave scratches on the surface of these two sensitive plywoods.

Price

Maple and birch plywood has medium to high prices in the market. Genuinely speaking, the price of maple plywood is slightly higher than birch plywood because maple can imitate some exotic woods, and the look is more authentic.  

A standard of 10-12 foot kitchen equipment made of birch plywood costs from $2000 to $4000. The same item but made of maple plywood has a higher price of $2500 to $6000.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is no fixed answer when choosing between maple vs birch plywood. Each of them has its own advantages, such as their impressive durability and eco-friendliness to the environment. 

According to the price, maple plywood is slightly more expensive; however, it is simply a small amount for those who are more well-off. On the other hand, for those on a small budget, birch plywood is a better option than maple plywood.

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