Both soft and hard maple wood species are employed for kitchen island tops and countertops. Hard maple (1,450 on the Janka hardness scale) is the industry standard among kitchen island tops and countertops makers: It’s more scratch – and impact-resistant than beech, cherry, or walnut but not so hard that to dull the knives edges. This food-safe, closed-grained hardwood has small pores, making it superior to other wood species in blocking bacteria and moisture. But when it does form stains, they’re hard to hide on its light, amber-yellow surface. Maple kitchen island tops and countertops also are more expensive than beech wood and shrink more than cherry and walnut as humidity decreases.