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Science Table Buyer's Guide
Choosing the right Science Table is important; you need to find one that can handle your daily tasks in the classroom, but also the table that fits your budget and is built to last. Before purchasing science tables, there are three factors you must consider: surface, purpose, and durability.
Choosing the Right Surface
Science tables come in many shapes, sizes, and perhaps most confusing, surfaces. While science tables are almost universally black, did you know that there are at least five general classes of table surfaces? It is best to choose a surface more capable than your daily needs; this will ensure your tables are always rated better than the chemicals your curriculum is designed around. These are some of the most common science table surfaces:
- High-pressure plastic laminate. This is the most basic surface, a classic black laminate with superior resistance to scratching from every day use. While this surface is the most economical, it has limited resistance to the high temperatures and severe chemicals found in the lab. Science tables with this surface are best used for lecture, study, or harmless non-liquid experiments.
- ChemGuard laminate. This laminate has all the features of standard black laminate, but has outstanding chemical resistance and much better wear rating than standard laminate. ChemGuard science tables are excellent value for high school chemistry classrooms using a variety of weaker chemicals and heat sources. If you need a dual-purpose table for lecture and lab experiments, this is a good fit.
- Welded fiber with black powder coat. Because this is a chemically resistant finish, there are no seams to collect harmful chemicals or contaminants. In addition to superb chemical resistance, this lightly textured surface provides significant improvement in scratch resistance over standard ChemGuard laminate. Black powder coated surface table tops are made of a thick, 1" welded fiber (Gemweld) base with sturdy fiberboard core and have rounded safety edges. If you need a seamless chemical-resistant surface with improved scratch protection for chemistry or biology lab or classroom conditions, this is a good fit. Twice powder coated, these tables will not stain, etch or show effects when subjected to these standard lab chemicals:
- Sulfuric Acid 70%
- Nitric Acid 25%
- Phosphoric Acid 75%
- Sodium Hydroxide 25%
- Ammonium Hydroxide 25%
- Phenolic resin. Phenolic Resin science tables are impervious to many chemicals found in high school and college chemistry labs. In addition to superior chemical resistance this surface is typically thermofused, creating a seamless surface where the top meets the sides for ease of cleaning and disinfecting, a plus for biology labs. If you need a table that will see full-time laboratory use, such as a dedicated chemistry lab, or teacher's demonstration desk, this is a prime choice. Phenolic resin will not stain, etch or show effects when subjected to these standard lab chemicals:
- Nitric Acid 30%
- Phosphoric Acid 85%
- Sulfuric Acid 33%
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone
- Acetic Acid 98%
- Hydrofluoric Acid 48%
- Solid epoxy resin. The gold standard in science tables, solid epoxy resin surfaces are impervious to normal chemicals and heat. Rather than a laminate surface, the superior Epoxy Resin is solid, homogeneous, molded from modified epoxy resins, and completely oven cured during processing. Its soft, low glare surface is simple to clean. Solid epoxy resin is extremely durable and completely impervious to moisture, eliminating any future chance of swelling, delamination or exposure of the substrate. Solid epoxy tops are heat and char resistant to the point of being considered self-extinguishing. It shows even more resistance to chemicals than phenolic resin as it is not damaged by the following:
- Nitric Acid 70%
- Acetic Acid (glacial)
- Hydrochloric Acid 20%
- Sulfuric Acid 60%
- Methyl Alcohol
For dedicated institutional use, solid epoxy resin tables are the best choice, presenting the best chemical resistance and the most durable science table available.
Beginning science classes have little exposure to chemicals, and in many cases only need standard, high-pressure plastic laminate tables. In contrast, middle school and high school science classes may benefit from ChemGuard and welded fiber powder coated tables for chemical resistance during lab experiments. Phenolic resin and solid epoxy resin tables represent the very best surfaces and are recommended for dedicated laboratory conditions, such as advanced high school chemistry, or college-level labs, due to their improved chemical resistance. Prior to deciding, consider the following factors:
- Laboratory needs. If you’re planning to host many experiments in your laboratory, think about the types of tools and resources you’ll need. It might be best to purchase a number of basic tables and also a few tables equipped with sinks, power outlets, and white boards.
- Needs of students. To remain compliant with ADA standards, it’s helpful to have science tables designed to increase accessibility for disabled individuals. Most ADA compliant lab tables are mobile and feature abundant storage, a sink, and optional mirrors.
- Storage areas. A wide selection of science tables with storage compartments is available. From drawers and shelving to book nooks and cabinets, adequate storage can make a lab environment more comfortable and safe. Take inventory of available storage in your lab; if space is lacking, choose science tables equipped with additional storage as a supplement.
- Available lab space. For some labs, rectangular science tables are not ideal due to space constraints. In this case, consider round lab tables or those with risers to maximize work space without taking up additional floor space.
- Customization options. Today’s scientists and educators no longer have to settle for out-of-the-box products. The following customization options are available to tailor lab tables to your specific needs:
- Science table legs. Science tables generally come with solid wood legs that are a fixed height of 29" or 30" high. However, most tables are also available with 36" high legs that are a more comfortable standing height and for use with taller lab stools. Look for the adjustable height science table by Diversified Woodcrafts with legs that individually adjust to create unique table angles; perfect for physics class. Black plastic, vinyl or rubber boots are commonly used on the bottom of all wooden table legs to protect the wood from liquid spills or routine mopping. Most science tables will ship with these boots included or can be ordered additionally.
- Additional storage. Some science tables are available with optional book boxes, which give students a safe location to place books and supplies while not in use. For laboratories where potentially harmful chemicals are used, a secure book box may be the best, splash-proof storage area in the room.
- Power outlets. Typically needed in middle school and high school laboratories, optional power outlets can be added to customize most science tables. Add up to two outlets per table for optimum functionality in a lab setting.
Once you’ve evaluated your needs and options, the last step to choosing the right science table is a review of durability. Although the surface type of a science table significantly affects its overall durability, the quality of a table’s legs and supports play a role. The most common materials used as a science table base are hardwood, laminate, and metal. Determining which is best will depend on your needs; review this breakdown for an overview:
- Laminate. The least durable base available, laminate tables are only recommended for use in laboratories that do not conduct experiments with liquid. Best used in an elementary school setting, laminate tables are inexpensive but do not resist chemical damage.
- Hardwood. Natural woods, such as oak and maple, are extremely durable and sturdy. When protected with rubber feet, wooden science tables are not easily moved, thus preventing accidents in the lab. Because natural wood is somewhat susceptible to pest, water, or fire damage, carefully review the manufacturer’s treatment of the wood.
- Metal. Often created from steel, metal science tables are very strong and highly durable. Like other objects made from steel, tables with a metal base resist rust, deterioration, and damage, even when exposed to dangerous chemicals. Steel tables are sometimes available in adjustable height legs making them suitable for a larger range of student ages.
Between choosing a surface, evaluating durability, and ensuring a table meets a laboratory’s needs, the process of buying science tables can be overwhelming. However, once you complete each step, you’ll be equipped to purchase the best science tables for your laboratory. Follow this guide every time you shop for lab furniture to ensure your investment is protected for years to come.
Browse Worthington Direct’s wide selection of science and laboratory tables from the comfort of your home or office.