Soft Maple, as its name indicates is softer than Hard Maple. This makes it a better choice for those wanting to stain it as Soft Maples takes stain evenly unlike Hard Maple which is much more difficult to stain. Soft Maple is favored by wood turners as it turns and sands well. While it is softer than Hard Maple, it is still a hardwood and is a good choice for any staircase. Soft Maple is often used in high traffic areas in place of poplar because it is more durable and can be painted easily.