Maple is still considered a leader in domestic hardwood sales, particularly for its classic looks that make it visually appealing to consumers, according to dealers interviewed by Woodshop News. Sales are relatively steady with both hard and soft variations of the wood, though preference between the two fluctuates depending on price and projects.
Matt Gilland of Superior Veneer, which sells hard maple veneers, says the market is consistent year after year. He says maple can be used in a variety of applications and demand is quite steady.
“I don’t believe our maple sales have changed any over the last several months. I think it’s stayed the same on the demand. It’s selling pretty well. We sell 4x8 or 4x12, so it seems like we stay consistent across all size ranges,” says Gilland. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily a color thing; it’s more that it’s readily available.”
Bob Laurie of L.L. Johnson Lumber Mfg. in Charlotte, Mich., says hard maple prices are down because China has limited what it’s bringing in and that soft maple sales have been steadier.
“I’d say soft maple prices are down slightly, but they haven’t dropped like the hard maple. We always see cycles where all of a sudden it changes and hard maple will probably climb again. But when, I’m not really sure. And the thing is the upper grades in hard maple are still doing good; it’s the lower grades and the commons that are really taking more of a hit as far as demand goes,” Laurie says.
Laurie sees soft maple as a popular choice for wooden countertops, cabinets and furniture. Hard maple is popular for flooring. While there is a higher demand for white wood, his company also offers the brownish heartwood.
“There’s a big demand for wormy soft maple,” Laurie adds. “It has pin-sized holes with color around it that gives it character. We’ve had quite a demand for that. People use it for cabinets and furniture pieces because they like that rustic look. Rustic is in, but it varies by region.”
Jerry Anton of O’Shea Lumber in Glen Rock, Pa., has seen hard maple sales tail off while soft maple sales have gotten stronger.
“Lately, hard maple sales seem to have dropped off in the past couple of months and the pricing has stayed pretty consistent. With soft maple we’ve seen an uptick, even though the pricing has actually picked up a little after having been pretty flat over past several months,” Anton says. “Some people still like the hard maple, though, because it’s a little whiter and a little harder.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue.