Soft maple prices level off
Soft maple is favored by cabinetmakers for its versatility but not its price, especially of late. It has been one of the domestics particularly affected by inflation. But prices, as of August, appear to have stabilized, according to hardwood dealers interviewed by Woodshop News.
“Soft maple, right now, has been in high demand. We primarily carry a white material in that, and prices have been up. It’s kind of flattened out right now, but I would say compared to six to eight months ago, there’s been a 40 to 60 percent increase,” says Chad Muterspaw of CR Muterspaw Lumber in Xenia, Ohio.
“We’ve seen price increases with other species, but soft maple has been one of the ones that’s been most affected by [inflation] when it used to be fairly affordable. So, we started offering alternatives. Usually, people using soft maple for cabinetry like to paint it. With prices going up, we started [suggesting] brown maple and sappy cherry, because cherry prices have not gone up. We’ve got a lot of customers painting that. Cherry and any red oak, it seems like mills have plenty of it and prices have not changed at all. We definitely have some guys taking advantage of that, but it’s just weird to think about painting cherry.”
Clint Dillon of Steve Wall Lumber Co. in Mayodan, N.C., says demand for soft maple has remained strong, regardless of price and whether projects are being stained, clear coated or painted. Hands down, his customers prefer the premium grade for its light color and uniform background.
“Prices seemed to have leveled out pretty good. We’re still moving a ton of [soft maple] for cabinets, especially painted cabinets which are a big thing right now,” says Dillon.
Soft maple prices “got up to about as much as hard maple and for years [soft maple] was always considerably cheaper than hard maple,” says John Sliney of Vienna Hardwoods in Fairfax, Va. “It’s pretty stable, more stable than poplar, so some people prefer it over poplar for painting. The curly with figure in it, if you can find it, is pretty desirable.”
Retail prices for 4/4 FAS soft maple were quoted at $4.85 to $6.20/bf.
This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue.